On the door of Shirley Pryor’s room at the Immanuel Skilled Care Center hangs a sign informing visitors that the occupant is an artist. As soon as you open and step through that door, you see why. Shirley’s walls hold several of her works, and their variety, skill, and beauty is evident.
Shirley has been an artist for most of her life. “I just always liked to draw,” she said when we interviewed her before her Passions Project photo session. This love of drawing grew into a passion for painting as she grew older. The artwork in her room includes both oils and pastels, and she’s painted in watercolor, as well. Oils are her favorite, though, because of their vibrant colors and their texture.
Shirley was fortunate in that she was able to support herself and her three children with her art. She sold dozens of paintings over the course of her working life and, while she taught occasionally, most of her income came from selling her artwork.
Unfortunately, Shirley is no longer able to paint. She still enjoys looking around at all the art hanging on her walls, most of which is her own. Her family, which now includes over a dozen grandchildren and several great-grandchildren as well as her two daughters, one son, and their spouses, also have and enjoy some of her remaining paintings. Her youngest daughter lives locally, and Shirley feels lucky to get to spend a lot of time with her.
Shirley has painted everything from garden scenes to wildlife. Her favorite painting she’s ever done is a full-length portrait of her daughter. It was challenging, she says, but totally worth it. And it’s not the only large painting she’s completed; once, when she was living in Arizona, she painted a large mural in a public space. The painting of irises she’s pictured with here is Shirley’s favorite of the pictures she has left. She’s certainly able to capture the beauty in what she sees!