In a studio with three glass walls overlooking Lake Eufaula, Sharon Lackey looks forward to teaching her three grandchildren how to paint.

“Tom, my husband, built the studio for me and it’s just beautiful,” she said, smiling sweetly in remembrance. “I enjoy painting in there. I’ve got one area for watercolors and another for oils and they are both my favorite.”

She waited a long time for that studio, opting not to battle with the children over who got to use the kitchen table.

“I didn’t paint at all for 20 years while I was raising my children, but raising children was so rewarding I’d do it all over again,” the mother of two said. “The position of mother to Leslie and Michael created a commitment that would last for decades. This commitment had major blessings and life-altering circumstances.”

Now that her children are grown, September’s Artist of the Month for the Southeastern Oklahoma Fine Arts Association is just now getting professional lessons in her craft.

“I’ve been painting since I was a child, sometimes on any kind of paper I could find,” Lackey said, laughing. “I didn’t get any kind of professional help with it until a few years ago when I retired.”

Since then she’s studied with local art teacher Christine Verner, who taught her about oils. To learn about watercolors she probed the minds of Vernon Mauk of upstate New York, and Cletis Smith of Edmond.

She also studied with Cleta Curtis of Missouri, who instructed her in oil portraits.

In fact, one of her favorite portraits is in oil. It shows a young Choctaw woman “who looks like my Choctaw grandmother, the more I look at it,” Lackey said.

Her favorite medium? She’s got three: watercolors, acrylics and oil.

Her first inspiration? Her mother, Florence Thompson.

Her greatest joy? “Introducing my three grandchildren, 11-year old Michael, 8-year-old Nicholas, and 6-year-old Lane, to art. To me it is imperative that children learn to appreciate and understand art in all its varied forms,” Lackey said.

“Recently I acquired a pottery kick wheel. Each child had a turn at spinning the wheel, molding the clay and adding water to the process. I was glad we placed the wheel outside so the garden hose would clean both the boys and the wheel.”

Being what she calls a “stay-at-home grandmother” is a very rewarding time in her life and she’s not wasting a minute of it. But then, she’s always been a busy woman.

“This venture is art is an exciting one. In times past my efforts had been in children’s activities like rodeo, barrel racing, showing Herefords across the country, dance, school activities — FFA, 4-H — and sports,” Lackey said, recounting a busy life of “raising children, cattle and horses.

“Now I have time to follow my passion in art. I thoroughly enjoyed the children’s interest, but now I am enjoying developing mine.”

Contact Susan Brittingham at 421-2029 or sbrittingham@mcalesternews.com.

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