Garrison Green resident Hertha Reich has been painting for more than 60 years – a fact that surprises her when she pauses to think about it.
She began painting as a young mother in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “I started with oil painting. It was smelly and messy, but oils were the only thing available at the time,” recalls Hertha. “I’ve always liked learning new things so painting attracted me.”
To keep an eye on her two young children, Hertha painted at home. Over the years, she continued to paint and attended art classes at the University of Regina, where she switched to watercolours. When her husband passed away in 2011, she moved to United’s Garrison Green to be close to her daughter, Denyce Lundeen and son Allan Reich.
“Growing up, my mom was always doing artistic things,” said Denyse. “Copper tooling, needlepoint, petit point, and of course, the painting.”
“She painted at home for 15 years,” said son Allen. “I think it was mostly landscapes, but the quality of her work really picked up after she came here.”
Hertha moved into Garrison Green seven years ago. After getting used to her new surroundings, she started going to the art studio. “It was my haven. The teachers are always very friendly and always ready to suggest positive solutions to any problem I raised.” The studio is staffed by professional artists, and they helped Hertha improve her work. “I’ve done so many different themes,” said Hertha. “Sunsets, flowers, landscapes.” These days, if someone is looking for her, the best advice is to try the art studio first. She is almost a permanent fixture there.
“She has gone from abstract paintings to paintings that have fine detail,” said Allen. “The depth of her work has really improved. Over the years she must have done more than 100 paintings. She has inspired both of us. We’re not painters but we both love photography, so I guess her artistic side has filtered down to us.” She has also inspired other residents who might not have considered painting or other artwork before. Hertha enjoys taking part in the trips that United offers into the countryside. “Being a prairie person, I enjoy going to the mountains.”
She has become a prolific painter, continuing to use watercolours and acrylics. Some of her work lines the hallways, common rooms and the art studio. Garrison Green decided to honour that work by putting on a showing. “I was so surprised at having a show like this,” said Hertha. “I was excited to see all of my paintings set up in one place. Some of them go back several years.”
Will she continue to paint? “Oh yes!” She smiles and reflects for a moment. “I might like to change my style. I like variety, so I’ll ask the studio artists for their suggestions. You’re never too old to learn – even at 96!”
Photos and video by Sherana Productions
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