palsy. It’s a condition that, among other things, affects her posture and makes her hands tremble.
It makes it difficult for a woman whose hands used to float over a piano’s keys, play the organ at church and entertain family members with accordion solos to lift a fork to her mouth.
Despite her challenges with mobility and dexterity, Wilson began painting again in July.
“I don’t think she thought she could do it,” said Joel Wilson, her son. “I really don’t think we thought she could paint again.”
Her daughter Joanne Hummel, 76,visited from Oregon this summer and brought acrylic paints, brushes and canvasses.
She helped her mother create her first painting in nearly a decade.
Art has always been a part of Wilson’s life, but she can’t pinpoint exactly when she started putting oils to canvas.
“I’ve been painting on and off for years, and then I stopped painting because I couldn’t anymore,” Wilson said. “I don’t know when I started painting. I just know that I didn’t paint always.”
Joel Wilson, 77, said she picked up painting as a hobby when all of her six children grew up and she had more free time. Wilson was born in an area that is now part of the Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
Her family later moved to Houghton after the refuge was established. Joel Wilson still lives on a farm in Houghton about eight miles northeast of Columbia. Houghton is where Wilson started a family, herded dairy cattle and lived surrounded by horses. While riding, Wilson kept a pencil on hand to sketch her surroundings. Joel Wilson lovingly calls his mother a “horse nut” and remembers the detailed pencil drawings of horses she did before she began painting.
“I rode horses all my life,” Wilson said. “I like to paint animals, especially horses, but now I just paint what I’m thinking and use my imagination.”
She often gifted paintings to family members. Amanda Keefe, Wilson’s granddaughter, has a painting of a mountain and stream she received for her wedding displayed in her Aberdeen home.
Wilson shared her appreciation for art with her family members. Keefe remembers watching episodes of Bob Ross’ “The Joy of Painting” with Wilson.
Time spent with her grandmother nurtured her interest in cooking, art and animals, among other things. “She gave me confidence and made me believe I can do anything I want to,” Keefe said. Since she gets fatigued quickly and needs assistance in opening the paints and cleaning the brushes, Wilson can’t paint as much as she’d like now. She often thinks of things she’d like to paint, though. Precision is still important to Wilson.
Though she can’t use oil paints anymore because of their pungent smell, she uses acrylic paints. Watercolors tend to run, she said. Joel Wilson said that while his mother’s recent paintings might seem crude, those seeing them have to think about the physical challenges she has to overcome to create the paintings. “It’s absolutely inspirational to me,” he said. “It’s never too late to do what you love.”