LEWISBURG — Her basement is spacious — huge, really — but unlike most it isn’t dark and damp. It is, instead, bright and airy. It’s no wonder Pat Baylor has no trouble working here. A large glass door lets in plenty of light, allowing Baylor to spend hours at a time working on her favorite pastime — painting.
In this basement are tables filled with piles drawings waiting to be brought to life with the stroke of Baylor’s brush. Plastic bins line a wall on one end of the room, filled with completed works waiting for a new home.
Baylor flips through several paintings. There are pictures of animals, pictures of landscapes and flowers — several of her favorite things.
“It’s very hard for me to paint something I don’t like,” she said.
Baylor, a native of Danville who now lives in Lewisburg, has been painting for as long as she can remember and said that though she goes through phases on subject matter her dedication to painting hasn’t wavered. It has, rather, gotten stronger.
Baylor’s love of art and, specifically, painting, started while a student at St. Cyrils Academy in Danville, where she graduated from high school. She continued her education at the University of Maryland and took art classes in college at Enterprise, Ala., while her husband was stationed at Fort Rucker. Her career counseling people with drug and alcohol problems eventually led to her habit of giving away her work.
“I’d have individuals in my care for six months or so,” she said. “I would always paint each person a watercolor at the end of their time with me and write a personal note on the back that pertained to them.”
As her career progressed (she eventually retired as the program director for New Life Addiction Counseling Services, Inc., in Pasadena, Md.), Baylor found herself painting more often and trying out different mediums.
“Watercolors aren’t as forgiving as acrylics, and with acrylics you can cover up your mistakes, but acrylics just aren’t as smooth,” she explained.
She’s also tried out some untraditional mediums.
“I did the picture of the girl in Taiwan that hangs in my upstairs hallway, in a form of art called batik,” she explained. “It took three months to complete that picture.”
Since retirement in 2010, Baylor has had more time to work on honing her talent. She took additional art classes from Sharon McEwen, a Selinsgrove artist, and now spends much of her free time drawing or painting.
Along the way, she has continued to give away paintings to places like the Danville Area Community Center and other organizations that often auction them off to raise funds.
“I rarely keep any paintings,” said Baylor. “Unless something really strikes my fancy, then I’ll hold on to it. But I like to donate them.”
Baylor’s artistic process includes finding her subject matter first, rather than sitting down with brush in hand and then trying to decide what to paint.
“I tend to draw a lot of things at one time and then sit down and paint,” she said. “I have to first find something interesting to draw, though.”
Sometimes that’s a scenic snowfall, colorful spring flowers or a beloved pet. Baylor’s collection of paintings in her basement studio includes dozens of cats, dogs, fairies and flowers, and more. Since she paints weekly, her collection will continue to grow, until she finds a new home for each one.
“Sometimes I paint something particular for someone and other times I just let people pick what they want,” she said.
There are a few close to her heart that she won’t part with, though, including one of her dog and the batik painting that took months to complete. And while she has no plans to give up watercolors, Baylor said she’s not done exploring opportunities to try new things.
“I’d still like to learn oil painting,” she said.
Most recently, she said, she’s giving some thought to getting her paintings into the hands of some very special people.
“I’ve been thinking about what I would like to do in the future with my painting,” she said. “I would love to paint picture for children in the ‘Make a Wish Foundation.’ The children could tell me what they want, and I could paint it for them — and I would like to find other people who would like to do this with me.”
Jerri Brouse is a freelance writer who lives in Lewisburg. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.