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Faith, friends help overcome obstacles to art

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Photo by Hank Lohmeyer Artist Lynn Miller shown in her small, dining room studio as she would work on one of her watercolors.

Lynn Miller of Cedaredge has decided to take a different path in life than others who might think their years of contributing to community are past.

Reaching a milestone in life that would signal others to take to their rocking chairs, Lynn decided instead at age 80 to take up watercolor painting. Today she produces gallery quality work. Some of her paintings have sold. She has been commissioned by a neighbor for work. And she is a regular exhibitor at the Cedaredge ImpressionZ Artists Co-op Gallery on Main Street.

In addition to that, some of her favorite artworks are available in sets of greeting cards that can be found at the ImpressionZ Gallery.

Her art career began with a course of lessons she has taken under instruction of Laverne Evans in Hotchkiss, Lynn said. She was attracted to the idea of art lessons by the promise of completing a first painting the first day of class. And she did.

Lynn says she didn't like her first painting very much and didn't think that it was very good. Nevertheless, with the encouragement of friends she kept at it. A very special friend also encouraged her: "God kept me at it," Lynn explains.

Her work improved and today it shows a marked improvement going far beyond some of her amateurish first tries.

But while her new life as an artist blossomed (her floral watercolors are considered quite good) Lynn encountered a challenge that might have put other artists back into their rocking chairs again. Her sight began to fail. She has lost sight in one eye from glaucoma. But despite that setback, Lynn has kept painting and producing art - some of her best works yet.

Lynn's friend, Vickie Street, sees her story as something that should inspire others who may have reached a point in life where they feel there's nothing left for them to contribute or to do.

"She could have just retired," said Vickie. "But instead she opened a whole new chapter of her life and found an undiscovered art talent also."

"Vickie has been with me on my journey," Lynn said.

Lynn is not a self-promoting type of person, as her friends in Cedaredge know. Lynn has been active in her church, the Cedaredge Community United Methodist Church. She and Vickie were among those who helped organize the Methodist Women's Thrift Shop when it started out in the church basement some years ago. Until recently, she has volunteered regularly at the shop's new Main Street location. Lynn has been a recipient of volunteer of the year honor from R.S.V.P. for her work with the Thrift Shop.

Lynn's art career has been a journey aided not only by God, but also by some of His "angels" who live in the area -- almost everyone in the valley knows at least a few of them. Far from giving herself credit for her artistic accomplishments, Lynn credits with heartfelt thanks "all of the angels who have helped me."

Most folks who live in Delta County know about the kind of angels that Lynn is referring to. They are always there for others when needed offering friendship and assistance, especially in times of need. These local angels have been looking over Lynn's shoulder as she progressed with her artistic work.

One was her Hotchkiss art teacher who helped get her started and offered real professional support along the way.

There were friends who gave encouragement early on.

Another of Lynn's angels is the professional who mattes and frames her paintings for display. When Lynn became discouraged as her sight in one eye began to fail, this angel encouraged her with the words, "Don't stop painting! I won't let you stop. You are doing wonderfully."

Another of her local angels helps by reproducing some of Lynn's best work onto the greeting cards which are packaged for sale at ExpressionZ.

Lynn's artworks have won honorable mention ribbons at the Edge of The Cedars exhibit in Cedaredge, and this year one of her paintings was awarded a $50 sponsor's prize.

All of the paintings she has done are watercolors -- it's become her medium. She works on her paintings at a simple table top studio set up in her dining room, and also sometimes at her classes in Hotchkiss.

She hasn't been able to travel to Hotchkiss for a lesson in a while. So, without any coaching which she so appreciated from her teacher, she works at her small home studio and uses her imagination, "somewhere in my head" as she terms it, to suggest subjects.

Vickie Street, in a testament to her courage and faith and the art she has produced for others to enjoy, surprised Lynn with a short biography that appears on the back of each greeting card.

Christening Lynn's enterprise "Out Of Your Rocker Creations," the short bio that Vickie wrote reads as follows:

"Lynn Miller never touched a paint brush until she was 80 years old and looking for something to get her up and out of her rocker. A friend suggested watercolor painting classes. The total loss of vision in one eye has not deterred her from the joy that painting has brought into her life. She hopes her story will serve as an inspiration to other seniors to get up out of their rockers and try new endeavors. 'You're never too old!'"

Photo by Hank Lohmeyer Lynn Miller is shown with a display of her watercolors at ImpressionZ Gallery in Cedaredge.
Photo by Hank Lohmeyer Lynn completed this watercolor of a pair of cardinals in winter after losing sight in one eye.
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