Two senior citizens – living down the hallway from each other at Ripon’s Bethany Manor Apartments – share their talents producing award winning art.
Wanda Thompson and Don Cox have completely different styles that they use in creating sought after pieces.
Thompson for years has hunted down barns in the Midwest that she has photographed. She then paints them into the grain structure of slices of Myrtle Tree trunks that are found in the southwestern Oregon region. In addition to her barns she has used the same wood slices to accentuate birds and animals that she envisions in the wood grain patterns with dynamic results.
She uses acrylics along with pen and ink noting the ink dries out quickly and “you’d better be quick.”
Before she began self-teaching herself art, she made wedding cakes from her home along with children’s cakes. She recalls making wedding cakes for five of her six sons, but the last one waited until he was 49 to get married and she had already sold her cake pans.
Early on she began painting rocks and gourds, with different artistic images – one rock resembled a car that she took down to her auto shop and gave as a gift. It is still on a desk in that service department, she said. Also three of her painted rock owls were given to the mechanics in the service department.
She and her late husband volunteered to manage the small RV park at Sharpe Army Depot in Lathrop years back. She said the commander was so thrilled with the rock she painted for him he gave an order that all the rocks on the base belonged to Wanda. She and her husband had made lamps out of the gourds with appropriate art work on the gourds and gave some to the different commanders when they left the base.
When the couple arrived at Sharpe they planned to stay only several days in one of the spaces. The cost was only $5 a night. They were soon asked to sign on as the permanent hosts of the facility – which they did – and stayed in that position for several years. They managed the park so well that the base commander said the Army was going to add eight more spaces for them to oversee.
Wanda said that it was some time later that she met her artist friend Don Cox, saying he had a completely new technique with his art, using colored pens – not knowing anything about acrylics – he did water colors. They have been painting together ever since at the Bethany apartments, she noted.
Together they have painted 140 greeting cards in one day. She added that he goes to a water color class every day in Hughson. Cox has spent much of his time working with black and white line drawing coloring books and Wanda adds rocks, and pools of water sometimes near a cabin, with trees adding to the artistic charm of the landscape creations.
Cox’s favorite painting in his apartment is that of a Swiss Chalet that he had drawn in just two hours detailing a winter scene. Also in his apartment is his collection of Swiss Chalet coo-coo clocks – most of them work but others are used for parts.
He has been drawing since he was 12 years old in the pencil medium. He began with color in 2008 and has been doing it ever since. Zentangles are the rage in the art right now, he said, with 10,000 different designs that he is now using in his creations.