Robert Wilson finds inspiration in many places.
His art is inspired by photos he sees in magazines, by nature and by his deep faith.
His greatest inspiration, however, came from his late wife, Christine.
Wilson, 84, was named grand prize winner of the Assisted Living Federation of America's 2012 Art Showcase.
His acrylic painting, “Adorable Child Exploring the Beach,” was chosen from among more than 200 entries. The judges, assembled through the federation's partnership with the American Art Therapy Association, said they chose the piece for his representation of the theme: carpe diem, meaning seize the day, and its overall artistic merit.
“I just couldn't believe it! God is really pouring it on me now!” Wilson said. “I'm just so happy. It's such an honor to know that they will be displaying my art at the (federation's) headquarters and that others can enjoy it after I'm gone.”
Wilson, known as “Bo” at Legend at Rivendell Assisted Living where he resides, is what one might call a late bloomer. It wasn't until his two sons were grown and he was settling into retirement that he began to dabble in art. He completed his first painting in his garage, sandwiched between two vehicles. He was in his 60s at the time.
“She's (Christine) the one that inspired me to paint. She said, ‘You're always sketching and drawing … now, why don't you add some color to it.' Who would ever have thought 20 years ago, this would come about,” the retired electrician said.
With his wife's encouragement, he signed up for an art class. He took 10 lessons, then decided to try it on his own.
“After I finished my first painting, Christine said it was good … so I kept painting.”
As a descendant of famed Comanche chief Quanah Parker, Wilson is intrigued by Western and Indian art.
He also loves to paint mountain scenes, which remind him of his honeymoon trip to Colorado and the cabin he rented for $5.
Wilson also taught himself how to carve.
“I found some blocks of wood being thrown away and thought, ‘I'm going to see if I can carve.' I didn't know I could do it. I just decided to try.”
Wilson misses his wife, who died last year, but he has found comfort and joy in sharing his art and
“I've had a really good life,” he said. “It amazes me — the things that God has done for me.”
He encourages would-be artists to take some lessons and give it a shot.
“If you've got it in you, you can do it on your own. It's never too late to discover new passions in life.”
To honor Wilson's achievement, the Assisted Living Federation of America will sponsor a painting party with Oklahoma artist Greg Burns for the residents at Legend at Rivendell.
And Burns will help congratulate Wilson during a champagne reception and showcase of Wilson's art from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 22. The public is invited to the reception at 13200 S May Ave.
For more information, call 691-2300.
Donna Walker is sales and marketing director for Legend at Rivendell.