JacLynn Morris is the first to tell you, she’s not exactly Grandma Moses, but she is having the time of her life in her mid-seventies thanks to a newfound passion.
Growing up in a home in upstate New York, Morris’ creative mother used to paint the backgrounds in the animation cells for Walt Disney films. Morris said, “Neither me nor my siblings felt artistically inclined; however, all of us actually were in our own ways. As a mom, when my children were young, I helped with their science projects plus art projects.”
Morris explained, “Staying home for over a year during the pandemic, I signed up for online art classes at Brentwood Art Center in Santa Monica. We had vacationed there during the summer, and I was familiar with the center. I found myself spending hours drawing and painting mostly with acrylics, ink, graphite, and watercolors. I attended eight lessons; each was two hours long and there was a small group of people in the class. The instructor was entertaining, skilled, and kind. No one felt bad that they had no clue what they were doing. He taught us how to blend paint, so it flowed, and we painted the sky, reflections, and water and my first piece was a strawberry.”
She continued, “All of a sudden, I created something recognizable and three-dimensional. I then painted a picture of my daughter in the pandemic. She was wearing a mask which I felt would be easier and, to my surprise, people recognized it was Emily. The class taught me how to look at things and see them differently. Instead of drawing circles for the eyes, I could tell eyes came towards you, and if you make the color light in the front, the back recedes. I could apply little things that taught me how to make things look real. And “Pandemic EM,” as we called my fateful painting of Emily, was the beginning of my journey painting what meant something to me. As I started painting my grandchildren, I wanted to leave something special behind that would touch people I love or remember a special moment that their (Grandma) Bibi created.”
Morris stated she was as surprised as anyone at what happened when she posted some of her work on Facebook. She said, “People I barely knew – wanted to buy some of my pieces. Temple Sinai also just accepted me as an artist in their upcoming first art show in October. Judaic themes appear in realistic and abstract ways in several of my pieces and so do moments that bring me joy, like a little girl dancing with her dad – a new groom touching his wedding ring – a puppy racing across a field. And in each piece – fantasy shines. The little girl’s dress takes on a glow, the puppy’s ears and tail become a rainbow of movement.”
She added, “I still take classes online through the Brentwood Art Center. An additional surprise came after my son, Peter, and his wife moved back to Atlanta.
Their youngest daughter Peri, age nine, was given a choice of activities, and she said, ‘I want to paint with Bibi.’”
Morris shared, “Peri and I now take a class with my teacher and it’s one of the most amazing experiences. There are times I am astounded by Peri’s talent and ability.”
To continue to grow as an artist always learning, Morris commented, “I was thrilled when I finally got into Gary Bodner’s class, which are extremely popular. Gary is such a gifted artist and the most generous of teachers. He has taught me so much about painting, how you can convey anything in any color you want which opened a world of possibilities for my imagination.”
Morris said, “Painting has become my passion and it’s especially wonderful because it has enhanced my life with connections and, most of all, it makes other people smile.”
JacLynn Morris will exhibit her paintings at The Temple Sinai Art Show on Saturday, Oct. 14 and Sunday, Oct. 15. For more information, visit www.templesinaiatlanta.org/artshow. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.