July 24, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Local artists display winning ways in cover contest

Senior Living Editor

Every year The Gazette invites professional and amateur senior artists to enter the Senior Living cover art contest. Senior Living featured the winners in the professional division in December. This month’s issue honors the amateur artists.

First place: Hallie Hetrick
Hallie Hetrick’s room at The Inn at Medina is filled with her artwork. Roses bloom on the lamp on her dresser. Decorative plates hang on one wall, adorned with birds so lifelike you expect them to burst into song. Several saws that served as canvases for Hetrick’s paintings, one depicting a winter scene, the other full of springtime, hang beside the window.

At 91, Hetrick knows her way around the palette. She picked up a paintbrush in high school and never looked back.
In the 1940s, she had the opportunity to study art in New York City.

“When my husband was in the navy, he played bass fiddle in the band,” she said. “We were stationed in New York, and the band was playing in places like the Copacabana.”

Although she got a kick out of hearing first-class singers of the day like Rosemary Clooney, she got a bigger charge out of attending night school classes for art. During the day, she painted plaster figurines at a local company.

“They would be lined up in a row, and I’d have to paint the same thing over and over.”

Hetrick enjoys using acrylic paint — she likes the fast drying time — but spent many years developing her china-painting techniques, too.

“Erna Mastney was my teacher,” Hetrick said, explaining that she loved the china work so much she bought her own kiln. She also started to paint on more unusual items, like saws.
Hetrick’s advice to young artists?

“Be persistent, and take art classes when you can.”

Second place: Evelyn Garver
It’s the second time in the winner’s circle for Evelyn Garver of Lafayette Township. Garver, 73, started painting about three years ago. Inspired by an artist she watched at work at the county fair, as well as the work of Thomas Kinkade, she began her own artistic journey by tuning in to TV artist Bob Ross for how-to hints. Add to that classes at Michael’s, and Garver was good to go.

Oils quickly became her favorite medium, and she works in the basement studio her daughter and son-in-law created for her at their home.

“I do more work in the winter,” Garver said, explaining that in summer, the garden becomes her focus.

She’s garnered a number of ribbons at the county fair and gives paintings to her children and grandchildren.

Garver encourages the talent she sees in her grandchildren, and they often paint side by side in the studio.

“Sometimes it’s hard for me to keep my hands to myself when they ask for help with a painting,” she said, laughing at her eagerness to share her growing expertise. “We solve that by working out the details on scraps of canvas or paper first, then going to the painting.”

She lives by the “practice makes perfect” school of discipline, but tells beginners “not to worry too much about the way paintings look in the beginning. Paint to please yourself, but practice is what you need. Keep an open mind, and don’t be afraid to try different things. Study how the light hits something, where the shadows fall. And if something doesn’t work at first, start again.”

Honorable mention
Pauline Cogar, Jacqueline Montgomery and MaryAnn Vithous received honorable mentions for their entries.