Two Artists in Residence

So Old
Judy K. Patterson

Growing up on the Jersey shore, I didn’t think I was an artist. I played the piano and loved nature, especially the ocean, the sand and sunshine surrounded by a loving family.  

I always wanted to have a job; women were so stifled and controlled.  I chose New Jersey College for Women (now Rutgers) and thrived there, learning to be a teacher.  There were so few careers for women in the fifties; a woman’s place was in the home.   I always felt that my biggest success in life was my three children, even if I couldn’t add it to my resume.

Being an Artist
I first set up an easel in my closet which had one window, getting up in the middle of the night to do something creative for myself.  Over the years I took lessons in art, entered the University of South Florida, majored in art, finishing with a master’s degree in fine art in 2000.  A window opened for me, excitedly meeting women with goals like mine. During this time, my favorite pastime was ballooning as a three-women team on Sunday mornings when the wind was gentle.

My house is my safe harbor.  Over the years it was remodeled. The grass was removed to create a jungle, the back deck was turned into a piano room, the carport converted to a garage, and the studio was attached to the house. The joy of living and learning are the same. 

My garden means a lot to me.  Bromeliads and succulents are survivors requiring little water or care.  Nature’s erosion and new growths keep reoccurring in new ways and shapes.  Finally, through Poetry, Great Books, OLLI, Operatunity, and Mermaids, I have a fabulous life and treasured friends. 

Aging is an art.  Loss is only half of it.  Aging brings growth, expansion, and liberation.  I paint, carve and print, enjoying decaying, rotting, rust, and patterns.  You must have passion–a vitality of the life force.  Accept and be kind to yourself as you are.  Have radical hope and compassion for those who need help.  Survive with dignity and laughter and pass it on.

Now, being So Old and excited to be entering a new and hopeful stage of life that requires new questions, new answers and a quiet courage, I continue my quest for meaning, identity, possibilities and self-realization. I’m finding excitement in being So Old; it’s a fierce ride with an acceleration of time left.  I am a little ashamed of my years, afraid my independence will decrease as I get older.  Aiming as high as I can, I weave the tapestry of life in my artwork.  When finished, I shall wrap it around my family and friends and at the end, pull it up to be my shroud.  I accept my life, eroding but a spark left. Learning, loving, family, friendship and the arts make my life valuable, giving me hope for continual renewal.

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M.A. Sinnhuber

M.A.Sinnhuber’s art is surprising in its unexpected use of brave, bold color to unusually define ordinary shapes. Her definitive use of brilliant color began when she noted and studied sun and shadows in California and Arizona workshops, where she viewed color more vividly than the more grayed palette of her hometown, Pittsburgh. M.A.’s study has included printmaking, watercolor, pastel, batik, oil, gouache, though she prefers acrylic for its quick drying.

She studied art at the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University and with well-known artists privately, nationwide.

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Judy K. Patterson is a longtime OLLI member and an artist. She is also longtime member of  Tampa Bay Great Books and has taken many OLLI classes, particularly literature and poetry courses. She is active in a poetry group. She recently joined Operatunity SIG and is a member of the Talking Movies SIG.

M.A. Sinnhuber is an accomplished artist and poet. Her chapbook, The Leaving Field, was published by MadBoooks in 2013.  A member of Madwomen in the Attic since 2004, she has been published in Voices from the Attic, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Vox Populi, Sandhill Review, and Pittsburgh City Paper.  A life-long Pittsburgh resident, now in Clearwater, she is working on a full-length manuscript.

38 Replies to “Two Artists in Residence”

  1. Judy, how I enjoyed your art, but your essay says it all for women of a “ certain age” who well remember the struggle to just be a person. Thank you for that , especially in these times.
    Old curse: May you live in interesting times…..we certainly do

    1. Dear Ann

      What genuine friends I found in OLLI. Doing these times we live in, I am lucky to have all of you. “Interesting” has lots of meanings. Cheers!

      1. Dear Cath,

        It’s a simple fact that for me to know you has been very special. I am deeply touched by your thoughtfulness. You bring much joy into my life. Thank you. Cheers!

    1. My Mom too! She’s the best and one of the great blessings in my life. We all talk once a week and she keeps up with our comings and goings. She is amazing! Don’t let her “So Old” fool you! She still swims every morning!

  2. Hi ladies, what a lovely and colorful way to start the week. Judy, I loved your painting and drawings (inkings?)–especially the self-portraits (selfies, I mean), and your essay is very cool. Aging is an art, as you say. And your paintings, M.A. Sinnhuber, are quite vivid and striking. Congrats all around!

    1. Dear Bob,

      I appreciate your comments. The “Inky drawings” are woodcuts. I make a design, put it on wood, carve it, and print it. The print comes out backwards so I have to make the design that way. Thanks again. Cheers!

  3. Judy, you are a role model for me. As you age, you’ve just become more creative, more insightful and more meaningful to those of us who count you as a friend and mentor. I love your inquiring mind and artistic verve. Keep on truckin”

    M.A., while all I have of you is a selection of your art, it is wonderfully alive. Thank you for sharing your visions.

  4. I love all the art displayed. Judy, I admire you so much, not to mention your philosophy of life and old age. As you would say: “Cheers!”

    1. Dear Cindy,

      You suggested to me that I write this article many years ago. It has taken quite a few years, but here it is. My gratitude for your support. Definitely Cheers!

  5. M. A. Sinnhuber does not hesitate once the brush or pen is in her tight fingers. Either tool—both tools—encourage her to express herself, clearly, daringly, eternally. For she has seen and experienced life, sometimes harshly, most times blissfully. She does not shy away from describing the power in her soul, her willingness to grasp new visions with powerful hands and heart. We await her full manuscript, to arrive, hopefully, any day. It will be complete. As her life has been.

  6. Judy and MA, thank you for sharing the beautiful visual art. I cherish time spent with you during OLLI literary events, savoring poetic expression. Judy, thank you for wrapping us in the tapestry of your artistic life. Your perspective on the art of aging is inspiring. Indeed, there are new questions and new opportunities for growth as we age. Thank you for the reminder to embrace radical hope and to demonstrate compassion.

    1. Dear Li nda,

      Your comments here and In our Live Poets group have a special place in my heart. Keep seeing all the beauty around us. Cheers!

  7. Judy, I feel priviledged to get to know you a little more through your essay. I always experienced you are a compassionate and giving person but now I realize you are still becoming, still growing. Best wishes as you continue down the road to where somewhere.

    1. Dear Judy,

      Thanks for your message. We old trees are no less beautiful than young ones. We are not on a downward path, but on an ascent. Cheers!

  8. Dear Judy: I love all that you write and say about aging. I’m basing my own aging process on your philosophy : I know that I’ll think of your words when life is difficult . Thanks so much for letting us share your passage through this part of your life. Love to you.
    M. A. Sinnhuber – love your art work!

    1. Dear Joyce,

      Very special thanks to thoughtful you. You have a special place in my heart for all the thoughtful things you do and are. Cheers!

  9. Dear Judy: I loved your art work and your thoughtful essay on aging, a topic very close to my heart. I am inspired by your courage to face the many challenges that aging brings and your delightful insights into the freedoms and joys that can be inherent in this life stage. I admire you so much!
    You exemplify the beautiful artist with sensitivity and soul. Always my best.

    1. Dear Evelyn

      You can’t know how much your comments mean to me, I am very fortunate to hear your poems and comments in our Live Poet group. Many thanks. Cheers!

  10. Dear Judy, LOVE your art and your words about living when you’re SO OLD. You are an inspiration and a joy for me.

    M.A. — love your art!

    1. Dear Anne,

      Thank you so much for your generous comments. May this year bring you countless good tidings that you so well deserve after this past year. May you have the greatest year of good health and much fulfillment. Cheers!

  11. Thank you, Judy, for sharing some of your art. I stare and stare at each, seeing something new with each new look and ask myself as you have titled one “Why Oh Why Do I Feel This Tingling of Joy”. So many different styles each tailored to the subject and its message. You and your work are treasures. And thank you for your insights and perspectives in our OLLI poetry group and the Operatunity SIG. With gratitude…

  12. Dear Jay,

    Heartfelt, warm thank you for your generous comments. You and Operatunity make my heart sing. Cheers!

  13. Judy, thank you for your beautifully written, lyrical and wise essay! Your artwork echoes with this same sense of insight and vitality.
    M.A , Strong and vibrant paintings. Your colors sing.

  14. Dear Judy, I was away in Poland during part of June and July and missed your artwork. It’s beautiful!!! I have always admired your spunk and graciousness in spite of your age . . . and now I admire you even more! My love to you.
    MA: Your paintings are lovely and so colorful and full of life!

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