KEARNEY – At 101 years old, Connie Elton is living proof that passion for art never goes away.
Elton is the feature artist at this year’s Creative Changes Art Show and Sale that runs from July 6 to 8 at the Kearney Community Centre.
The show begins July 6 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. with a wine and cheese, and the show and sale run July 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and July 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission for July 7 and 8 is free.
Elton spent many summers at her Sand Lake Cottage putting brush to canvas.
Jo-Ann Robertson has many fond memories of her mother painting with other local artists.
“I remember her going off to places that were near the cottage, lakes or rivers on the way to Algonquin Park,” she said. “This was out in the fresh air, painting.”
She says she would do everything from sketching to painting out in the wilds.
Off Elton would go with her easel and canvas.
She says her mother’s reaction to being chosen as feature artist at the show was delight.
“She thought it was wonderful,” she said. “She was very honoured. This is the first time they’ve (had a featured artist). It was a great honour for her to be chosen as the very first one.”
Over the years Elton has sold her paintings at the show.
Robertson is hoping to get her mother transferred to Muskoka Landing in Huntsville so that she may attend the art show, which she has never missed.
Robertson says her father spent some time at the residence and her mother volunteered there when she was in her 90s.
“That’s partially so she has an opportunity to be at the lake and partially because of the art show because we want her to be there for that,” she said. “She’s still amazing.”
Despite macular degeneration, Elton is still painting and enjoys art classes. One of her most recent works will be up for sale at the show.
“She’s still painting, which is amazing,” said Robertson. “A lot of people lose the drive.”
Elton, who was born in 1911, graduated from the Ontario College of Art in the early ‘30s and worked in advertising until 1937, when she married.
“She painted all through the years. We lived in Rosedale and she went to the local community centre and painted there regularly,” she said. “And in the summer she would paint up at the cottage and would paint with other people around that painted.”
Elton and her father built the Sand Lake cottage in 1951.
“At that point there were no roads in so they had to take everything by boat,” she said. “All the cement, all the lumber, and they rowed.”
Elton’s love for the area’s beauty stemmed from visits as a child.
“Her grandfather was part of a hunting group that had a hunt cabin up in the Sand Lake area,” said Robertson. “My mother tells the story that she had many aunts and he always encouraged his daughters to learn how to hunt and shoot.”
Robertson says the area is Elton’s spiritual home.
Elton’s earlier work was primarily done in oil and moved into watercolour in the later years, and she has an affinity for landscapes.
“My favourite one is one we have in our living room,” said Robertson. “She used to do this class at a community centre and they would work from slides.”
She says the slides would often come from people’s trips abroad.
“The one I like is of a man from India with a turban,” she said. “To me it reminiscent of my grandfather, the one who helped her build the cottage.”
She says it is the bone structure of the face that reminds her of him.
Each of Elton’s four children have gone around their homes to collect pieces of work from their collection of Elton’s work. There should be about 20 paintings on display.
“It will be a retrospective of what each of us have,” said Robertson. “She still has her portfolio from her art college days and it’s really getting tattered with thin, fragile pages.”
Robertson took two of the sketches from Elton’s life drawing classes and had them laminated, which will be on display. There is also a painting of the cottage that will be on display.