July 2, 2016

Partly cloudy

Garver takes top honors in amateur division

Evelyn Garver can’t remember a time when she didn’t like to paint and draw. The 72-year-old Lafayette Township resident liked art in high school, but after she married and had children, she set aside her paintbrush for awhile because “paint and babies don’t go together.”

But talent doesn’t dry up just because you take a little break, and after Garver got a job, she found herself doodling landscapes on Styrofoam lunch cartons on her breaks.
When she took her kids to the county fair and they were old enough to ramble the grounds on their own, she spent the afternoon watching an artist work and dreamed about painting her own scenes.

She reached a point about two years ago when she could start painting seriously again, and she poured over books and instructional tapes, watched PBS shows that featured artists like Bob Ross and settled down to work.

“I like oils, I like the way they work,” she said. “It’s like magic — you put the brush down and it just goes.”

She brings landscapes to life from her imagination, sometimes using a photo as a starting point.

“The painting just takes off. I learned a lot from Bob Ross, but I’ve tried to develop my own style. Practice is so important.”
Her daughter and son-in-law built her a studio in their basement, complete with places to hang her work. Her son-in-law also helps her with framing. Once a week family members gather, and she paints while they share potluck. Sometimes, though, they paint with her.

“I try to teach them what I know and talk them through a painting,” Garver said. “I’m proud of the kids trying to paint.”
Garver exhibits her work at the county fair, where she won blue ribbons in her classes. But the painting process itself is what she loves.

“The one you need to please is yourself. If you’re happy, that’s what counts.”