Good morning! Good news!
In the bright sun and heat of the recent summer mornings, and just slightly cooler afternoons in her shaded backyard, Karen Richards of Bellefontaine has spent much of the past four weeks outdoors, transforming a former blank wall on her shed into a large-scale work of art.
The 73-year-old created the landscape and free-hand painting featuring wild horses and other intricate details, from squirrels to turtles, ducks, raccoons, bears and birds, in a lush and green environment filled with an array of wildflowers. The idyllic scene is complete with a fresh and flowing waterfall, along with a bright red barn and sunflowers.
Creating this piece that Richards calls “The Waterfalls,” along with another mural that she painted last summer at her 517 E. Brown Ave. property, has been a collaborative effort that has brought her neighborhood together, which has been especially meaningful during the recent quarantine times, she said.
Her neighbors gifted her with leftover paint from their various projects, and she was able to keep the project inexpensive by also using recycled exterior latex paint she had on hand, along with buying $1 sample “mistint” paints.
Neighboring residents have also supplied other input on the murals — requesting an autumn countryside for the first shed mural, which can be viewed while driving eastbound along east Brown Avenue, and asking her to incorporate a large waterfall in the second mural, located at the rear of the property.
Receiving kind comments from neighbors and passersby, including joggers who frequent her street, keeps Richards motivated to paint during the hot and humid conditions.
“I’ve received lots of compliments from others that they enjoy seeing the murals,” she said. “That’s why I’m doing it — to provide others with an uplift in their spirits. We all need that during these times.
“God gave me this talent, and it would be silly of me not to use to help bring some happiness to others. I feel like He helps me sometimes when I’m struggling in the painting and gives me ideas and inspiration.”
This summer’s mural also provided a way for the city resident to stay focused on a goal during the extra time that she’s had at home during the coronavirus health crisis
“This has been the perfect project to do during the pandemic, when I can’t see my grandchildren quite as frequently as I’m used to,” she said.
Richards related that she first started drawing at a very young age, including drawing “lots of horses,” one of her favorite animals, and also focused on art classes in high school. While she took one art class in college, painting and art became another hobby for her over the years while she pursued other professions, including working at NASA in Cleveland, and also as a nurse and school bus driver.
“I’ve enjoyed doing paintings for others, some by special request, and it is so neat when you make something for them that brings them joy and they display your work inside their home,” she said.
A former resident of Strongsville, the mural artist said she moved to Bellefontaine about two years ago to be closer to her family in Marysville. She has enjoyed settling into the community, and the mural project was one that made her property feel more like home with the personal touches.
“My shed needed painted anyway, so why not make something beautiful out of it?” she said, noting that after sealing the waterfall mural, her next goal is to make a space-themed mural outside her home with the help of her 12-year-old grandson.
Richards also invites others to contact her if they are interested in painting a mural on their properties.