By MaryAnn Kromer
PHOTO BY MARYANN KROMER
Rebecca Price is pictured with an original oil painting of her granddaughter, Olivia.
Rebecca Price's artwork is featured at Tiffin-Seneca Public Library this month. The local arrtist's 30 pieces include watercolor, acrylic and oil paintings, sketches and painted drawings.
"This is a portion of my personal art collection from the last three years," Price said.
A graduate of Columbian High School, Price said she remembers winning poster contests and art competitions at that level. She went on to take more instruction at Terra Community College and from private teachers.
Books and research also added to her skills.
A mentor guided Price into commercial art. For 20 years, she operated a business doing lettering and designing logos for local companies. "No DUIs in one of these" was a slogan she composed for Service Cabs.
"I've lettered hundreds of buildings and designed logos that were seen worldwide," Price said.
For signs, she designed and painted them while her husband did the carpentry and construction. Then seven years ago, her husband died. The artist had to find a new way to continue her creative pursuits without a partner.
Making a living was not as important to her as finding a reason to keep living, she said.
Her idea was to do art activities with the elderly in retirement homes and care centers.
"I used to volunteer and do manicures for years, and I'd talk to them. They wanted something to do," Price said. "I could draw and that was something I needed to do. So, I could draw and create something that they could do."
She began by making 36 ink drawings of birds, flowers, still lifes, old advertising, scenery, animals and seasonal items. Then, she had them enlarged and printed on big sheets of art paper elderly eyes can see more easily.
The pictures could be finished with paint, chalk or markers. This shortcut allowed residents to complete a work of art in one session.
"They can do it in a matter of two hours. They love it," Price said. "But I don't do this alone. I do it with volunteers who assist me."
Six area nursing facilities were glad to have Price come in and guide residents through art projects. The artist works with about 80 senior citizens each week. While their hands and minds are occupied, residents also experience a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Price has participants sign each piece. They can decorate their rooms with their work, enter it in senior art shows or give it to family members.
"Everybody comes into their room and compliments them, and they tell me about it," Price said.
The display at the library includes a number of these drawings Price has completed herself. She said her favorite probably is one of blue jays on an oak branch.
In addition to satisfying her need to create, Price said she enjoys the appreciation she receives. Residents always ask her why she comes to teach them.
"They are my fans, my support team and they keep me going, giving me a purpose for my creativity," Price said.
Teaching seniors also has produced funny moments.
During one session, a woman wanted something from another table across from where she was sitting. Rather than wait for Price or a volunteer to get the item for her, she decided to get it on her own.
"She just crawled under the table," Price said.
The library exhibit also includes several of Price's original oil paintings. Most are are portraits of loved ones or paintings she gave as gifts to family members and friends.
"My Version of Peace" is an adaptation of the famous 1898 painting, "Peace" by English artist William Strutt. Price added different animals, changed the background and gave the child in the picture the youthful face of her late husband.
Price said she often asks other people to look at her work and give their opinions before finishing a given piece.
Although she does not paint or draw every day, she is always composing new works in her mind, visualizing and arranging the subjects she wants to capture.
"I draw from photos, from life and from memory. I sketch them, draw them and then play with them," Price said. "It's something that's always in my mind. ... I'm always creating. Always."
On occasion, Price offers private instruction for start-to-finish projects. For more information, call (419) 447-0659.