St. Peters resident Virginia Leitner discovered her love of painting more than 70 years ago, when she helped form a painting group with several other women at a community center as a hobby.
The 96-year-old artist said while she has had no formal training in art, what began as a hobby quickly grew into a passion. Leitner said her first husband always had some sort of hobby going at any given time and she first started painting as a way to have a hobby of her own.
“He was interested in everything—sailing, antique cars and repairing old watches,” Leitner said of her first husband, John Davis.
Leitner said she painted for many years, until her husband passed away and she had to enter the workforce.
“When my husband passed away, I had to go to work, I had to eat,” Leitner said.
Leitner said she didn’t pick up another brush for 50 years, and has only returned to painting within the last five years, after she moved to Oak Tree Village Retirement Community in St. Peters.
Shortly after moving into the community, Leitner said she took a painting class and found her enthusiasm for creating art was renewed.
Once she started painting again, Leitner picked up where she left off 50 years ago—quite literally. One of her pieces she worked was only half-way completed when she put her brush down years beforehand. She said she finished the painting, a winter landscape done in shades of blue, after she moved into the retirement community.
Leitner works in several mediums, and paints mostly still life and landscapes, but she has her eye on portraits for her upcoming projects.
“I do some sketching and paint in watercolor and acrylic, and I’m interested in creating portraits in oil next,” she said.
Leitner said she doesn’t really have a set schedule for when she paints, but rather creates whenever the muse strikes, in the spare bedroom in her apartment that she uses as a studio.
When asked what she gets out of painting and creating pieces of art, Leitner said picking up the paintbrush has been a great outlet for her, especially since she is no longer able to get out of her home as often as she used to.
“Painting is very therapeutic, especially because I can’t drive anymore,” Leitner said.
Leitner has two pieces of work on display inside the St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre, “Fancy” an oil painting and “Gibson Girl” an acrylic.
Leitner's work will be on display until Feb. 27, 2011. For more information about the exhibit and hours of operation call the St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre at 636-397-6903 or visit their website.