By Hannah Hunsinger, The Sanford Herald
"My mother said, 'Nice girls don't become artists,'" Yvonne George recalls.
"So I didn't get any encouragement. So I became a nurse. It was my second love. It was great, it was perfect for raising a family. I got married right after I graduated and really didn't dabble too much in art. I was too busy having babies, I had four of them, I didn't have much time for art at that point." But now that her children are grown with families of their own, George has so much time to dedicate to art that she was recently named the Sanford Brush & Palette Club's Artist of the Year.
"The criteria is working for the club. I have not ever said no to most of the things they have asked me to do," George said. "When I join something I'm not a stand on the sidelines person, I'm not exactly shy or quiet, so I tend to get involved." George has had an interesting path in art world, because although she was unable to dabble in it much when she was younger, she never lost her passion for it.
"In '72 I moved to Florida and I found out the community college was right down the road. I started taking classes, because all my kids were in school by then. I won a scholarship there. I took painting seven times, I was having a ball, I was doing all the things I'd always wanted to do," she said. "Even though it was a pretty full life taking care of four kids. ... I always say if you want to do something bad enough you find the time and I found the time." George's first love is painting. She started with oil -- the standard of the time -- but she has moved on to acrylics and watercolors.
"I like the effect of oil (paint), but my temperament doesn't suit waiting for a passage to dry for three weeks before you can go back and play with it. If I start a painting I want to finish it," she said.
"The classic story is that my daughter was going off to college and she wanted a painting. She gave me a picture, and I started the painting and four hours later it was done. I realized then that acrylics worked for me. It was right after acrylics came out - I think acrylics started in the 50s and this was in the 70s - they weren't totally accepted but it worked for me because I could keep going and keep going and keep going, and it made all the difference in the world."
During her time studying in Florida she discovered pottery.
"I walked into the clay studio one day and I saw someone working on the wheel and I was mesmerized, I said, 'I have to learn how to do this.' I got really hooked on clay," she said. She has mostly given up working with it now because at 82, the bags of clay are too heavy for her to lift.
Her most recent obsession is pastels.
"I tried pastels a couple years ago for the first time. Basically I'm self taught with pastels. The principles are the same. ... The difference in the blending part, making it work," George said. She says she like pastels for the same reason clay appealed to her. "It's not a brush in-between [you and the canvas], your hands are in it. That tactile thing kind of hits me."
Though George has learned that not everyone is a fan of getting her hands dirty. For the past several years she has taught an oil, acrylic and pastel class at CCCC and she said of her students are not eager about having pastel coated fingers, but George is enjoying passing her knowledge all the same.
"It's funny, I say my mother finally got her wish -- she wanted me to be a teacher. She's up there looking down at me, 'I finally got you,'" she said laughingly. "I'm a very dedicated teacher, I'm always online looking up things. I don't take it for granted. I've got people who have been with me for five years, I've got to keep it fresh or they're not coming back. I don't know what I'm doing, but I'm doing it right, they keep coming back."
Sanford Herald photo by Hannah Hunsinger. Yvonne George was named as this year's Sanford Brush and Palette Club Artist of the Year. She is pictured here in her home with a recent still life acrylic and one of her favorite oil paintings hanging on the wall behind her.