Inspired by the mountains of Mesa, Ariz., Betty Finstad knew she wanted to re-create the landscape on canvas.
The problem was the retiree had never picked up a brush or palette knife before, and she had no supplies.
“I had never painted before,” Finstad said.
Still, the beauty inspired her and her brother-in-law invited her to use some of his supplies and join him in an art class he was taking. She said she took him up on the offer, first taking some classes — loosely structured with an instructor who spent more time talking about her process than giving actual instruction. She then got her own canvasses and paints and tried it on her own.
That was six years ago.
Now the resident of Lighthouse of Superior is an award-winning artist. Finstad’s favorite painting of those mountains in Arizona earned her the top spot in the Assisted Living Federation of America’s national art competition for senior living residents.
With more than 100 more votes on Facebook than the runner up — 574 votes — Finstad won the fan favorite competition.
The painting created quite a buzz among Facebook fans.
“This is awesome,” Chuck Horton of Duluth posted Feb. 13.
“This is so well done!” posted Payton Nash a day later.
“I wish I had just a hint of that talent!!” Dawn Quinn Siemers posted Feb. 15
“With so many great works of art in this contest, I was torn,” Eric Paulson posted Feb. 16. “In the end, I liked this the best. It looks like Superstition Mountain outside of Mesa/Apache Junction Arizona.”
Terri Wickett, director of life enrichment for Lighthouse of Superior said Finstad’s paintings came to mind when she received an email about the contest from Lighthouse’s home office, New Perspectives.
“I immediately went to Betty because I know she’s a fabulous artist,” Wickett said. “I knew that she consistently painted, and I knew that was something she was very proud of … So I thought let’s just ask her.”
Among the opportunities seniors have at the Superior assisted living facility is an art program a couple times a month to give residents other opportunities to express themselves through a variety of arts.
Finstad’s painting, however, was put to canvas in Arizona.
Wickett had one of Finstad’s paintings in mind, but she encouraged Finstad to select her favorite painting to submit for the contest.
“I brought out the ones that she had,” Wickett said. “I put them on her bed, and I told her to tell me what one was her favorite. I knew what one was my favorite but that wasn’t the one she submitted.”
While Finstad said her favorite time of day to paint was in the morning, she selected a mountain scene cast in dusky light.
Finstad said it was one of her favorites, because it turned out the best.
“I just loved the mountains and I loved to be up there,” Finstad said. “I loved the area.”
While Finstad didn’t tell her family about the contest, Wickett said her family was “very supportive” once Wickett told them about the competition.
“They were very excited,” Wickett said. And it was Finstad’s family — her granddaughter’s boyfriend — who notified Wickett about her win.
Wickett said while the original painting won’t be returned — as a finalist in the competition, Finstad was paid $100 for the painting — Lighthouse is having prints of the painting made for her. She’ll also receive notecards from the Assisted Living Federation of America with the painting on the cover.
The grand prize-winner will be chosen by ALFA, but the fan favorite was chosen solely by Facebook votes. Both winning artists receive a painting party for their respective communities, and a number of other finalists will be chosen to be displayed at Community 2012, ALFA’s annual conference and expo.
And next week, the residents of Lighthouse of Superior, and Finstad’s family and friends are invited to help her celebrate her victory.
Wickett said she is planning to create a wooden palette with colorful cupcakes to represent paint splotches.
The painting party includes a painting class 1:30-2:30 p.m. with certified instructor Christina Boynton followed by celebration and reception 2:30-4 p.m. at Lighthouse of Superior, 1519 N. 34th St.Talk about it