avatarby Neva Bodin

When I was a new mother, I bought a basic set of oil paints and a canvas and copied the picture of dolphins from the front of a Readers Digest magazine. A friend, who was taking a correspondence course in painting, told me my sky was wrong, (too roily, should be smooth) and my dolphins had the strokes going the wrong way, (I had them going around instead of the length of the dolphin). Discouraged I put my paints away and didn’t touch them for a couple years.

Then I learned about an artist who held a free painting session each week in her home for Newcomers in town or anyone interested. I showed her my painting. Oh, she said. Skies that are smooth are the mark of an amateur. And the round strokes show the roundness of the dolphins. Encouraged I became an artist.

The Challenge-Oil painting by Neva

As an oil painting artist, I have enjoyed hours of relaxing, exciting, enjoyable creativity that has made my soul sing. As well as brought in some income to support my “Hobbit.” (Habit plus hobby).

I am still upset with my then friend whom I let stifle my newfound interest for two years. I had drawn in charcoal since grade school, often spending hours with a like-minded friend in high school drawing together, taken a semester of art in college, and always wanted to paint pictures. And, I still forget the lesson that others may not know what they are talking about when it comes to me personally. And that I should make my own decisions.

Many Mules-oil painting done from black and white photo by Neva

Counsel and advice from others should definitely be considered and weighed for worthiness. Credibility also considered. But, sometimes we must gather courage and press ahead anyway.

This is true of writing or painting. I am so thankful to the instructor and now life-long friend who at 101 is unable to paint due to macular degeneration, but who can still give advice and encouragement. She gave me an immeasurable gift in her encouragement and then critique of my artistic attempts over 40 years ago. For even though I have had to drop the art for a year or so at times due to 50+ hour jobs, or family commitments, I have always been able to get back to it and experience the pleasure.

And I have the beautiful memory of having helped a lady in her 80’s, resident of a nursing home where a friend and I decided to meet and paint weekly so the residents could watch us (and eat our cookies too we found out).

Sentinel of the Prairie-Oil by Neva

Her name was Laverne, a wonderful lady who mentioned that she had always wanted to be an artist. She came each morning to watch when a nursing aide pushed her wheelchair to the dining room where we were set up. My friend, Kathy, and I pooled our resources and set Laverne up with a canvas, palette, brushes and paints. And lots of guidance and encouragement.

Sometimes Laverne was late, waiting for an aide to bring her. Finally one morning, tired of waiting, this lady, now determined to be an artist, arrived pushing her own wheelchair, with her paint supplies getting the ride in the seat! For ever after, she walked on her own, pushing her wheelchair to our painting session.

She had a new brightness to her visage. She mentioned how she now noticed landscapes, foliage, and scenery in a more detailed way when her son took her for a car ride. She would visualize and plan how she might paint it!

I moved perhaps a year into our endeavor, and I received a card at my new abode, signed by Laverne, featuring a beautiful country scene of a red, round barn that she had painted and used to print greeting cards. How wonderful to know Kathy and I played a part in encouraging someone, who had considered herself too old to pursue a dream and reach a goal! And sharing the joy for this art is so gratifying.

Wedding Over-oil by Neva donated to ART 321 for auction


  1. I loved this post, as it reinforces my belief that no one should ever criticise someone else’s work, or hobby. Whenever someone says I can’t or shouldn’t do something, or that I’m doing it all wrong, it makes me want to do it all the more.


    1. Good for you! I’m too easily led by other’s remarks, especially when it comes to my abilities. Even when I realize I am more capable sometimes just because someone has confidence in me. Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. WE all have gifts we share. This post proves we are all in this together and I applaud you following your passions.

    I think many people give up when faced with unflattering words, but finding the strength, like you, to follow the call is priceless. It is made even more so when shared with others who might struggle with doubt. Thank you for this inspiring post. Doris


    1. Thanks Doris. I love sharing what I’ve learned so far in art with others and trying to inspire them, same with writing, nursing, or anything I’ve done. I’ve always felt if I can do it, so can anyone else with an interest.


  3. Neva, your friend may not have meant to squelch your creativity, but some people don’t know how to provide constructive criticism. Maybe she’ll read this and see the error of her ways, and perhaps you two can be friends again.


    1. Actually saw her one day about 4 or 5 years ago after no contact for over 20 years. She talked about joining my painting group. I encouraged her. I reintroduced myself and invited her to come paint with our group. Never saw her again. Hopefully she still paints. We need to have faith in ourselves and where we are lead. I’m sure she never meant to discourage me.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Very inspirational post. Perked up my spirit reading it. In junior high I had an interest in painting, but never pursued it. Instead, focused entirely on news writing and creative writing. Maybe in my old age, I’ll take a lesson or two on painting and give it a whirl.


  5. I so enjoyed this post, Neva. My mother was an artist and got the inspiration to begin painting when she had four small children and no painting experience at all. Later in her life she was able to take classes and learned so much she began teaching herself. As a child I used to copy National Geographic pictures by drawing them and coloring them in. I have taken painting classes and loved them, however, I have found my favorite medium to be acrylics. I no longer have even one of my paintings as I gave them all away to people who admired them, but hopefully, I’ll have time this winter to start again. My problem is that I like to do too many things! Thank you for sharing your beautiful work and inspiration with us. It’s so wonderful that you have been an inspiration to others!


  6. What a wonderful story. I have always believed it is never to late to follow your passion, try something new , or just enjoy yourself.


  7. Sometime the discouraging comments of others can be damaging to our creativity. This happened to me recently when a lady called one of my news stories, “poorly written.” This comment really injured my ego. But I now understand how that comment has instilled in me to work harder at being the best I am capable of in making my stories even better.
    Thanks for this post.


  8. Wonderfully inspiring post, Neva! God gives us gifts, and those are gifts to us — we need to use them to be a blessing to others and to return our gift to Him. You and my other creative friends are my encouragement and I thank you for that gift of inspiration and encouragement. Beautiful post — thank you!!


  9. That’s a lovely story, Neva. I conjured up the image of the old lady pushing her wheelchair with more spirit in her steps than for a long time. Painting is something I’ve tried but know I don’t have the skills to do more than make a poor copy of what I see, but I appreciate the efforts of others with the gift!


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