If I Can Do It, Anyone Can

Article by Make The Days Count Contributor Tamara Belinc


Maude Womble of Tullahoma never realized retiring at the age of 82 would lead her to another career — one as an artist.


When the day care center where she worked closed, her children talked her into retiring.  “I had to have something to do,” she said. “I’ve worked nearly all of my life.”  She didn’t want to do “public work,” she said. Instead she found something enjoyable she could do at home.  “My daughter, Tammy, brought me a paint-by-number kit,” she said. “I thought if I could do that, I could draw and paint.”


Although she has never had art lessons, she soon found she didn’t need to paint by numbers. She developed her own colorful, primitive style of painting that has attracted many admirers. She didn’t have the opportunity for art lessons when she was in school. “They just didn’t do that,” she said. “The teacher might draw something on the board, but that was about it.”


She attended school in Estill Springs until she was 14 or 15 and then went to work in Tullahoma at a factory that made bedspreads. She spent the rest of her life working and raising her five children. Her husband died in 1971.


After she began painting, a friend, Candy Couch, recommended she show some of her paintings to Lucy Hollis, executive director of the Tullahoma Fine Arts Center. Since then “Miss Maude” has become a fixture at the center and exhibits her work at area art shows. She has also been a featured artist at the center. The subjects of her paintings are varied — whatever catches her fancy. She’s done bright red roosters, flowers, sunsets, even airplanes, a couple of them brightening up the Tullahoma Regional Airport.  Miss Maude has no fancy studio, but does her work at her kitchen table. “I have to have quiet to paint,” she said. “I have it all in my mind, and I don’t need interruptions to throw me off.”


To date, she has completed about 150 paintings and is still going strong. She likes watercolors best, but has done a few in acrylics as well. But she doesn’t spend all of her time painting.


“Lucy keeps me pretty busy down at the center,” she said. Earlier this year, Miss Maude read to the little girls and their grandmothers at the annual tea party held at the center. When other arts center members have a show, she shows up to support them. “We all bring in refreshments and just have a good time,” she said. She recently brought in several smaller paintings to participate in a miniatures show at the center. Many of her paintings are hanging on the walls of her home, but she has run out of room to display them all. Her son recently built her a storage shed in the backyard to hold her larger works.


Miss Maude encourages others to find their artistic side. “I just love painting,” she said, “and if I can do it, anyone can.”


“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.”

- Friedrich Nietzsche


“Art is both creation and recreation. Of the two ideas, I think art as recreation or as sheer play of the human spirit is more important.”

- Lin Yutang


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Posted on 14 November, 2008 in Career, Happiness, Inspirational Stories, Motivation, Productivity
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