GOD'S GIFT: Grandma Moses Art Competition Section 4 winner Carolyn Rowland with her painting Mother's Love. BELOW: Major prize winner Annie Reid with her painting, San Clemente.
GOD'S GIFT: Grandma Moses Art Competition Section 4 winner Carolyn Rowland with her painting Mother's Love. BELOW: Major prize winner Annie Reid with her painting, San Clemente. COURTESY CENTRAL COAST COUNCIL

Grandma Moses artists inspired from an early age

GETTING into trouble for drawing when you shouldn't as a girl could be a factor in future success if two of the winners of this year's Grandma Moses Art Competition are anything to go by.

Pearl Beach artist Annie Reid, 64, took out the major prize with her mixed media acrylic and oil painting San Clemente - named after the American beach suburb which she visited with her sons who live in California, and comprising a compilation of her memories.

"It's my heart, it's my happy place and it's my breath," she said of those times with her sons.

She vividly remembers as a girl not being too popular with her parents after drawing a huge portrait of Elvis on her bedroom wall - but it stayed.

An overwhelmed Carolyn Rowland, 80, of Bateau Bay, took out Section 4, open to 50-plus Leisure and Learning Centre and Senior Centre art group members.

She recalls regularly getting into trouble at school for drawing horses when she should be concentrating in class.

But it was all worthwhile, because her winning Grandma Moses painting, Mother's Love, is of course, of a horse and her foal.

"I'm still a bit overcome by it all," Carolyn said, adding that when the presentation was made, "I could hardly walk; I could hardly think; I was shaking and crying ... I was very, very overcome."

Carolyn said while family had always encouraged her in her art, she "couldn't paint or do anything without praying and asking God to help me".

"I just saw so much beautiful art at the competition yesterday, I didn't think in a million years I would get anywhere, but I give all the glory to God," she said.

Having grown up in Greenwich, on Sydney's Lower North Shore, before moving to the Coast about 40 years ago, Carolyn recalls riding her horse every Saturday as her "escape", and splitting her first pays between board and rent to help out at home one week and horse feed the next.

While she's had a few health issues in recent years, including a fractured hand, hip problems and pneumonia, she said "there's no way I'm going to let little things get in my way or get me down".

"It doesn't matter how old you are, you don't have to be old, you can get up and get going and get involved ... and it's worthwhile," she said adamantly.

Again, there were similarities in talking to Annie, who at 50 had taken herself back to university and completed a Fine Arts degree at Newcastle University.

Always interested in art, and having been involved in pottery for many years, Annie said she had wanted to prove to herself that she could do the work.

"You're never too old to learn, and as long as you've got a passion and desire - which I have - then why not go for it?" she said.

The annual Grandma Moses Art Competition is open to artists over 50, and this year attracted a record number of entries, including 36 in the novice category, with 244 works exhibited overall.

It is inspired by the life and work of Anna Mary Robertson, better known as Grandma Moses, famed for taking up painting in her late 70s and painting more than 1500 artworks before she died at 101, proving age is no barrier to learning and achievement.

Other section winners were: Water Colour - Mike Harris, of Umina Beach, Novice - Gilta (Jill) Ricotta of Woy Woy, and Central Coast Inspired - Deidre Tumiotto of Wadalba.

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