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Artist Helen Hawkins has only become more prolific with age
Jan 22

By KELLY WHEELER, The Cullman Times

CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) _ The moment one steps into Helen Hawkins' home, located on the Cullman/Marshall County line, a colorful display of talent captures the eye.

Hawkins, beautiful and petite, exhibits a jubilant zest for life_eager to display the same kind of beauty and vivid detail in her own talents.

That combination of talent and jubilance is evident in just one glance inside her home.

There are paintings and beautiful creations arranged delicately throughout the walls and halls of the home_ designed for guests to notice without a moment's hesitation.

Painting is a passion that was instilled in Hawkins as a young child growing up in Marshall County. The passing years haven't dampened the 87-year-old's desire to put her talents to the test and create pictures designed to impress.

``I've always loved to paint,'' said Hawkins. ``As a child, yes I would enjoy painting pictures and being artistic. I was even involved in competing to have my art displayed with Trice Hinds, Estelle Wright in the 5th and 6th grade on the school bulletin board at Arab Middle School. I guess you could say in many ways I was just self- taught. And, well, as I grew older, my love for painting just never stopped.''

Married at 16, Hawkins said that raising her family took precedence over painting, although she dabbled in it from time to time.

``I was mostly busy with raising children and tending to my husband,'' said Hawkins. ``It wasn't until after Grady (her husband) passed away that I really started picking my paint brush up again.''

For years she devoted her love and time to taking care of her family_especially her husband when he became sick.

``Guess you could say I just started focusing all my time and energy on my paintings,'' she said. ``And it really was good for

me. It kept my mind busy and focused.''

Hawkins is a self-taught artist, whose ideas for her paintings came from just people or things close to her heart. Her daughter, Donna Davis, said her mom's talent has

always amazed her_as well as her dedication to making and creating things for other people, just out of a love for giving.

``She has spent hours working on projects, hours pouring her heart and soul into her paintings and making gifts for her loved ones_not for pay but only as gifts.

The mother-daughter duo loves to travel and spend time together. Their adventures are reflected in some of Hawkins' artwork.

``I just love seeing her keeping her mind active; she is so full of life and you would honestly never guess her age. She just has a zest for living,'' said Davis.

That zest for life isn't confined to her art. She joined the seniors at New Canaan community center, and even joined a line dancing group. ``Honestly, I just enjoy being involved and making new friends. Dancing is one of my favorite activities, so much fun, and we have even competed in competitions where we brought home trophies,'' she said.

Mary-Anne Story Potter, another New Canaan senior, also complimented her friend on her talent for painting as well as dancing.

``Helen is amazing and is talented in so many ways that it is remarkable,'' said Potter. ``I just love seeing all of her talent come to life through her art.''

Hawkins' love for painting and creating art has also proven to be very beneficial because according to research, art therapy is a great way for senior adults to keep their minds active. Her daughter in-law, Pam Hawkins, described Hawkins as a very talented artist. ``She can paint anything,'' said Pam

Hawkins. ``Helen has always been a very talented artist. She sometimes takes old cans and cuts them into shapes to add a 3D effect to some of her paintings.''

Pam said her mother-in-law painted on mailboxes, clothing, pieces of wood or anything with a flat surface. ``Well, actually, it doesn't even have to be flat,'' said Pam. ``She has painted ceramic 3D animals to look like they were real. Danny even told me that when he was in the 2nd grade, in Lois Lyon's room, Helen went to school and drew Cinderella's castle on the board and colored it in for the class.''

Pam also credited her mother-in-law for being a great seamstress. ``She used to make a lot of clothing. She made table runners out of fabric quilted yo-yos she had made, she made cushions for chairs, and one year she made new curtains for her house,'' said Hawkins. ``Not only can she paint, sew, and make crafts, she also line dances. She's in very good health due to her staying active with all of these activities.''

When Hawkins isn't painting or dancing, she loves spending time with family and friends. She has four children, Danny, Donna Davis, Randal, and Andy Hawkins. Helen has many grandchildren as well.

If you meet Hawkins for the first time, she might gift you a hand-made butterfly created with your own ``unique personality'' in mind.

``She is just a complete joy to be around,'' said Potter. ``And her artwork to me is just another display of the beautiful person she is inside and out.''

By The Associated Press, Copyright 2021

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