Barbara Boldt is not someone who paints as a hobby, she is a painter. That is not to say that she doesn’t enjoy painting but as her only source of income, painting is her full-time job. At 79, she paints as often as she can in between promoting her painting and her daily activities.
In addition to creating her own masterpieces, she has owned several galleries in the past 30 years where she exhibited her work along with other local painters. She now paints out of her home studio. She has been there 10 years and has told her landlord that the only way that they are getting her out of there is in a hearse. Although she dislikes having to deal with the technical and business sides of selling her artwork, she manages to balance both and has clients world-wide. She is also set to release a coffee table book full of her painting and poetry soon.
Barbara encourages other seniors that it is never too late to take up painting. As long as you can move and see a bit she says you can paint. Barbara would know. She didn’t start painting until she was 45. In 1975, Barbara had finished raising her three children and wanted to go to school or find a job. But her husband wanted her to do something from home since she answered the home phone for his realty business. When running errands one day she noticed a sign for art lessons. She copied down the phone number but it took her months before she had the courage to call. Fortunately, she did call and during her three years of studying under the late artist, Aeron McBryde, she discovered her natural ability for painting.
In addition to being her job, painting is also a form of stress relief that has carried her through the deaths of two of her children and relationship break-ups. She was in the middle of one of her paintings when she got the phone call that her youngest son had been killed. Instead of her usual small precise strokes, she covered the canvas with angry red swatches. The result is hauntingly beautiful. This became the start of her deeply personal “Heart” series where Barbara allowed herself to paint from the heart. Other painful memories were brought up including her tumultuous childhood in Germany during World War II. In many ways, “painting saved my bacon,” explains Barbara. Her painting and gallery gave her focus and a reason to get up each morning.
Although she no longer exercises, she stays fit by keeping an active lifestyle. She cleans, cooks, gardens, teaches art lessons and of course paints. She attributes her longevity to a balanced diet, the occasional glass of wine and her busy lifestyle. She used to smoke in the 50’s like most people but quit cold-turkey the day the Surgeon General’s report warned about the negative health effects of smoking. Looking at Barbara, you would never guess she is turning 80 this year. Like many seniors, she feels years younger than her biological age. Sometimes this comes as a disadvantage though, Barbara warns. She is expected to keep up with younger people and doesn’t get any breaks.
Because she was not officially employed while she raised her children her Canadian Pension Plan doesn’t cover her cost of living. Thus painting is a necessity. Although she isn’t living the typical golden years, she is certainly living a colorful life and is sure she would still be painting even if it wasn’t her only source of income. By the end the interview, Barbara was eager to get back to painting. I left the interview inspired by her talent and hard work and wondering what talents lie hidden in all of us.
Barbara’s oil and pastel paintings cover her walls at her home studio. You can see some of her masterpieces on her website or make an appointment to view her paintings in person in Fort Langley, BC. If Barbara has inspired you and you live close to her you can receive art lessons from the Barbara in person.
About the Author: Kelly Neufeld is the marketing coordinator for Impowerage. She enjoys interviewing seniors and discovering their inspiring life stories. If you have an inspiring story to tell, please contact me at Kelly@impowerage.com.