Everything's game for Elba artist Patricia Burr
Submitted by Gretel Kauffman on August 18, 2009 - 6:38pm
When asked how old she is, Elba artist Patricia Burr has to think about it a minute.
"Well," she says, "I was born in 1918, so that would make me...my goodness, that would make me 91. But," she adds with a laugh, "I don't feel it."
She doesn't look it or act it, either. Burr, who has resided in Elba for the past 68 of those 91 years, is still a working artist.
"I've enjoyed drawing for as long as I can remember. But in fifth grade, my teacher noticed that I would always draw in my books after I finished my homework. She called my parents and said, 'You know, it would be nice if your daughter could go to the art school.' Of course, I was all atwitter. I think that was really the beginning of it all."
The art school that her teacher recommended was the Albright Art School, now the Albright Knox Gallery. It was there that she took lessons every Saturday throughout grade school for 50 cents a week.
In 1939, after graduating from Buffalo State College, Burr was hired as Elba High School's first art teacher. Two years later, she moved from her native Buffalo to her current home.
Her love of art is evident just by opening up one of her 14 "fun books," which are filled with photographs and sketches of everything from carefully arranged fruit to strangers seen in restaurants.
"Always bring a pen or pencil with you wherever you go," Mrs. Burr advises, pointing out to me an impromptu drawing of the back of a friend's house. "You see a lot of different, interesting things."
She says that one of her greatest influences was Don Getz, a well-known Ohio watercolor painter from whom she took some classes.
"He was always very well-prepared for everything. We would all watch him and say, 'Wow, this guy knows how to do it!' We all hoped that someday we could be as good as Don. My friends and I would go on short road trips to find interesting things to draw, and sometimes Don would come with us. We all had a blast."
Now, Burr paints about three days a week and it usually takes her two days to finish one painting. She tends to work with acryllics and paints mostly landscapes and portraits, although she has been known to paint everything from pets to whiskey bottles, as pictured below.
"There's nothing I don't like to draw," she declares.