Marj Hart of Cabot has no formal artistic training, but if you look at her artwork or the ribbons attached to them, you might think otherwise.
Her most recent accomplishment was receiving the Best of Show award at the Arkansas State Fair in the Adult Creative Arts category for her acrylic painting Amos, and for her colored-pencil drawing Arkansas Day Lilies.
Though she’s a writer by trade, Hart said, she has always enjoyed painting and drawing, but because she is now retired, she has plenty of time to spend on one piece if she wants.
“At one time, I studied under an artist, but I couldn’t afford it, so I’m mostly self-taught,” she said. “My big thing [in my art] is detail. Detail is what it’s all about.”
She did her first painting when she was 13 years old, and that got her excited, the now 85-year-old said, but art always took a back seat when it came to life at home.
“I started raising children, and I took a hiatus for about 30 years because I was supporting my kids,” Hart said.
Then she got back into art and found someone who could sell her artwork, and she was able to enjoy some extra money from her paintings and drawings.
Faces take the cake when it comes to her favorite things to paint.
“There’s just something that happens,” she said. “[When you’re painting], you find the people looking back at you.”
She hasn’t lived in Arkansas all of her life. She lived in Chicago, Ill., where she worked with the WGN network as a writer and editor until she moved to Southern California, where she worked primarily as a magazine writer.
Every painting or drawing Hart does is from a photograph, Hart said, because she can’t find anyone who can sit still long enough for her to paint.
Hart is given photographs of flowers to draw or finds portraits in magazines or books that she wants to paint.
“I really paint and draw for pleasure. I love doing it,” she said. “Being retired is neat because of the time you can spend on something.”
Time isn’t a factor for Hart anymore. She said she has the liberty to spend 15 to 20 hours on just one piece if that’s what she wants to do.
When she was awarded her ribbons at the Lonoke County and Arkansas State fairs, she said, she gasped with excitement.
“It was so much fun,” she said. “At the [Lonoke County Fair], I stood around so I could listen to what people were saying about my art.”
She said that when she told people at the Arkansas State Fair how old she was, fairgoers were taken by surprise.
“Age just means that I’ve got a lot of time to kill,” Hart said.
When she talks about retiring, she encourages others not to take the “rocking chair route” but to find something they are passionate about and can spend time doing.
“Art is a way of communication,” she said. “I love the idea of someone getting to see what I am excited about.”
Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501)244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.