Artist enjoys exploring creativity

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For Alexandra woman Beth McArthur the arts are not only a place to finally explore her creativity, they provide a cathartic element as well.
Mrs McArthur said she had always wanted to try painting but she only finally put brush to canvas after the death of her husband, Dick McArthur, six years ago.
‘‘Becoming a widow and having had a tragedy, I realised life was short and anything could happen. I thought I didn’t want to die with an undiscovered talent. I’m not saying I’m an undiscovered talent, I’m still in the process of learning, but I just wanted to try.’’
Now she experiments with a range of colours, styles and media and enjoys working both in a homestyle studio and outside among the schist rocks of her Central Otago home.
But she is self-deprecating, denying she has any ‘‘special ability’’.
‘‘I’m not an artist, I’m just having fun.’’
That fun includes painting landscapes, flowers and abstract artworks, some of which have words woven into them.
Words are providing further expression for Mrs McArthur in her own written work, another area she has started exploring only since the loss of her husband.
Twenty months before Mr McArthur’s death, he had fallen down a steep rockface at their property, becoming a tetraplegic. He was brave and philosophical about the tragedy, but Mrs McArthur said she realised she still had ‘‘a lot’’ inside her to express about the trauma of the experience, which deeply affected the McArthur family.
In 2011 Mrs McArthur did a creative writing course tutored by well-known writer Steve Braunias, and Braunias included a piece of her writing about Mr McArthur’s accident in one of his subsequent books, Civilisation — Twenty Places On The Edge Of The World. He praised her writing style and has encouraged her to do more.
Mrs McArthur said she did want to do more writing, including about the journey following her husband’s accident, and more painting as well.
It was always a matter of finding the time, but she said it was important for all to explore their talents and creativity.
‘‘It’s never too late to start something.’’
Mr McArthur — akeen art lover, who invested in various artworks — would be ‘‘surprised’’ but proud of her artistic endeavours, Mrs McArthur said.
‘‘Dick loved buying paintings; he was a real art lover.’’
She has taken several art classes and is now looking forward to viewing the artworks of the Central Otago Art Society’s Alexandra Blossom Festival exhibition.
Mrs McArthur is secretary of the society, which has more than 100 members.
More than 150 paintings are registered in this year’s blossom festival exhibition, which includes a special ‘‘blossoms category’’ to mark this year being the 60th anniversary of the blossom festival.
The judge of the ‘‘blossoms’’ category will be Invercargill artist Lyn Henry, and the judge of the other sections will be Alexandra artist Bruce Potter.
It was great to see a variety of artworks side by side, and nice to be ‘‘part of something bigger’’ by being a member of an art society, Mrs McArthur said.
She encouraged others to go forth and paint, sculpt, photograph or write — depending on what they felt like exploring at the time — and attend classes if they could.
Painting classes ‘‘teach you to look at things in different ways, to see them differently’’, Mrs McArthur said.
‘‘You paint what your mind wouldn’t normally see.’’ – The Central Otago Art Society Alexandra Blossom Festival art exhibition opens to the public at the Alexandra Community Centre on September 22 and runs for a longer period this year, until October 2.
Artist Lyn Henry will hold a pastel workshop in Alexandra on October 2.
For more information or to register email centralotagoartsociety@gmail.com