Phyllis Beall sees beauty all around her.
“I can see Turtle Mountain there from my window. Some people might say it’s just a big rock. I see it changing all the time, the light, the leaves, the colours. I like to paint it,” she said.
Her apartment is filled with paintings, her own and those of family and friends who share her love of art. One of her latest watercolours celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday, a scene of Vernon’s main street showing it in the time of horses and wagons, and a modern street scene.
“I’ve always been painting or drawing. My mother was an artist and she encouraged me and so did teachers.”
Beall points to one of her mother’s painting and one she did herself of her parents’ farm in Richmond where she grew up. After attending Vancouver School of Art, Beall married and had three children, keeping her art up doing greeting cards and invitations. She also made the plans for the house she and her husband built. She has always painted her own Christmas cards, and this year’s two designs, a local church and a robin in winter, are already being printed.
“I have to have a reason for painting anything,” she said. “It might be part of a scene that interests me or the shapes or the movement. Colour means a lot to me. I can’t grow flowers on my north-facing balcony, so I made that flower picture.”
Beall appreciates all art styles. Some of her paintings are by her great-grandchildren and a bright abstract is by her daughter-in-law.
“I love that painting. I couldn’t do that but I love it,” she said. Her whole family celebrated her 95th birthday, July 4, last summer. “That was wonderful, everyone together.”
She worked in a government office at the Coast after her children were grown up and started painting again seriously after retirement.
“I just walked into an art store one day and bought all the materials for watercolours,” she said.
She and her daughter attended a month-long art school in France in 2000 and that trip and other travels to England and Eastern Canada provided new subjects to paint.
“I like to paint in plein air, I paint from photographs or pictures only occasionally,” said Beall, who moved to Vernon in 2004 where she joined the Painting with Friends group at the Arts Centre and was a member of the Okanagan Artists Guild.
“I tried to get people who like to paint or who want to try it together here. One of the younger women — she was in her early 80s — was doing very well and people come and go. I think people don’t realize they can still paint, or learn to paint when they are older but an artist will always want to create in some way.”
One of Beall’s favourite paintings is of a house on a beach on a lake where children are playing in the water.
“It’s my happy painting. Not all my paintings turn out the way I want them to but they seem to please people. I have sold a lot of work but all I need is to have people enjoy them,” she said.
She has done the painting she wants to be used on the cards at her memorial service, a peaceful scene of trees.
“We will all go,” she said. “For now, I’m going to keep painting as long as I can hold a paintbrush.”
Beall’s cards and some small paintings will be sold at the Canterbury Court Craft Fair Nov. 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 3011 Gateby Place, Vernon.