Breland: An old window shade brings art to life

Published 10:38 am Friday, March 25, 2022

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It began with a paint-by-number kit given to me as a young teen. As I joyfully painted, I had thoughts of getting materials and being able to paint my own pictures. I usually sketched with pencils and loved that too.

I expressed my desire to my parents and they did the best they could with four children, all wanting something different! Dad had paint scraps and from somewhere he brought me a clean window shade, made of a lightweight canvas. There was also paint left from the kit and the brushes.

Dad tacked the shade to the wall and I sketched a copy of the painting of Jesus praying in Gethsamane. I used everything I had to finish that painting. Dad attached it to a board and built a lovely frame.

No lessons in art or painting, but I was so proud. I found a joy I had long been seeking. I still have the painting. The kit colors changed over the years, but I keep it for Daddy’s frame, if nothing else.

In high school, I was often called to draw colored chalk pictures on the blackboards for different holidays and any other artwork needed. Later on in life, I took a correspondence art course from Famous Artists, which I never finished because I was than busy with my own family!

I did a number of pencil sketches of children over the years, and one of my grandfather. My art work was kind of scattered until after I had worked at The Daily News for a couple of years. I went there in October of 1971. I had covered a short art class at the YWCA, which whetted my interest.

I was assigned to write a feature story about an artist named Carl Thorp, who moved to Franklinton in retirement. He had started art classes, but besides painting, Carl did something else quite newsworthy. He made a small-scale model of the Town of Franklinton.

We had quite a nice visit. I took photos of the little town, which was wonderful, and took story notes. We also talked about his oil painting classes. I said if there were any openings, I would like to come to class. He said, “How about next Tuesday evening?”

I was flabbergasted. I had no idea it would be that soon. For several years I went to Carl’s classes and his art teaching was remarkable. I learned to use a painting knife, and for many years, that was how I painted.

Then, along came an interest in portraits, and they seemed best done with brushes. Most all since then have been with a brush. I have also studied with Ann Warner of Franklinton — a wonderful teacher.

I was working at the newspaper, writing stories about people, already in a creative job. Painting was just for fun, but people started asking for paintings and I found myself busy. I have painted many portraits — of old and young people, brides and children. I have lost count — but at least 50-plus — as well as numerous paintings of various other subjects.

I’m telling you my old story — to especially invite you to the Washington Art Association’s Show and Sale on Sunday, March 27, from 2 to 5 p.m. at Clifton. You don’t have to buy anything; just wander and look at the beautiful artwork — from paintings, jewelry and woodwork — all professionally staged.

Sara Nelson is very kind to share her beautiful home for the show. It is located at the crossroads, 28035 Winfred Bateman Road, across from Sherman’s store in Clifton. Everyone is welcome. It’s a good Sunday afternoon ride and there is no admission.

Enjoy refreshments and see creative work by local people. I will be there with mine and I am looking forward to seeing you!

Retired as Associate News Editor, Bob Ann Breland writes a weekly column for The Daily News. You can email her at