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Beacon Senior News

Art from the heart

Jun 06, 2019 12:07PM ● By Jan Weeks

Ready for the rocking chair? Not these three seniors, unless it’s sitting in front of their easels. Sue Hughey, Carole Sneddon and Bob Maurer are well into their mature years and all three are still active on the local art scene— some for profit, some for fun. Hughey, 84, grew up in an arts-oriented family. Her father was a ceramicist who built the ceramics studio, including all the equipment, at Wichita State University, and her mother won multiple prizes for her poetry.

Hughey’s love of drawing led her to work as a graphic artist. She also worked at Boeing drafting electrical diagrams. Illustrated maps brought another income stream. She created a map of Texas for the sesquicentennial celebration, a map of the United States, one of the Caribbean islands and one of New World pirates and their treasure—all of which were sold as posters.

Following in her father’s footsteps, she began sculpting. “The Pugilist,” her alabaster sculpture, was displayed at the Chicago Art Institute. She created a bust of her husband, Harold, as a young man and immortalized her two sons in clay. In later years she began painting in oils, primarily landscapes. She returned to her graphic arts roots when she wrote and illustrated a children’s book, “Herby’s Secret Formula.”

When Harold became ill, art took a backseat. He has since passed away, and she said she would love to get back to painting. “It’s a good way to relieve tension,” Hughey said. “I. It’s a great escape.”


Carole Sneddon grew up with German bombs falling on Wirral, England, during World War II. With her father away in combat, her mother struggled to put food on the table and clothes on the backs of her three children. “I always had a talent for drawing,” Sneddon said, “but we were very poor and couldn’t afford art supplies.” The only time she got to draw and paint was at school, and she stayed for two years beyond the mandatory age of 15 in order to have access to supplies and instruction. After graduating, she attended nursing school and lived at the hospital. There were no opportunities to practice her art during that time. She immigrated to America in 1959 and worked as a nanny in Westchester, New York. Then she became a partner in a restaurant and later became the sole proprietor of another. Sneddon met her husband, Max, in the restaurant. He was a land developer and contractor. They came to Grand Junction in 1995, where Max was the moving force behind many new homes. Sneddon was well into her 50s when she started painting. “I worked in the kitchen, watching Bob Ross on the television,” she said. She took a few lessons but didn’t stay long, as she wanted to develop her own style. Then she got bored and began experimenting with colors. Her first original painting was of a lake in Westchester. She has a natural talent for realism, but also paints fantastical land- and skyscapes.

Max always supported her desire to paint, and when they built their home north of the city, it included a self-contained art studio, complete with its own furnace and plumbing fixtures. Christopher Tomlinson’s photograph of fire fighters struggling to put out the White Hall fire on the front page of the Daily Sentinel mesmerized Sneddon. “I asked him if I could paint it in color,” she explained, “and he was thrilled!” The painting now hangs in the Grand Junction Fire Department Administration office, in the hallway near the chief’s office.

Sneddon has exhibited her oils at Grand Junction City Hall and the Fruita Community Center. She joined the Western Colorado Center for the Arts and submitted paintings for the members’ shows and for the Roice-Hurst benefit show. Her painting of a dog waiting to rejoin his master in heaven so impressed a local man that he bought it before the benefit officially got under way.


Bob Maurer’s quick wit and spry steps belie his 91 years—years that have been filled with a multitude of jobs but always took him back to his first love: art. As youths, he and his buddy drew comic books, emulating the ones being sold at the time. He had a good art instructor in high school and won the Alexander prize for art. “It should have been a bronze medal,” Maurer said, “but due to metal shortages during World War II, I got a certificate.” Maurer joined the Army during the Korean conflict but stayed stateside. Using his GI bill, he attended The Cooper Union School of Art in New York, then he studied drafting at the Pratt Institute.

Maurer works in pencil, pen and ink, oil, pastels and watercolors. The fruits of his labor fill a bedroom and half the living room of his mobile home. His style ranges from realism to abstraction, touching on everything in between. His wife, Lydia, started out as a fashion illustrator, and Maurer said, “We raised our four kids by being artists.” Both Maurers taught art, having up to 70 students a week at one point. The Maurers bought a log cabin in Lake City and built a gallery in which to display their work.

In the past year, Maurer took first prize in the local Veterans Art Center competition and second in the national VA contest in the watercolor category. He exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution and had the “honor” of having one of his pieces stolen from the Denver Art Museum. He also designed a Smokey the Bear coin, misspelling the name, and the coin became a collector’s item after the mistake was corrected. GETTING STARTED These artists started with an aptitude for drawing, but every one said that anyone with the desire to draw and paint should follow their hearts and just do it. Materials don’t have to be expensive. Sketchbooks, pencils, brushes and paint are available at local discount stores and hobby and craft stores. And they don’t have to be fancy. A child’s watercolor set costs only a few dollars, as do colored pencils that appear on school supply lists. Babies don’t just stand up and walk, and we encourage them to try again and cheer when they succeed. Follow your dream and take that first wobbly step. Do it for fun, do it for yourself, and do it from your heart.

For more information about the artists, visit Sneddon’s website at or Maurer’s at Purchase Hughey’s book, “Herby’s Secret Formula,” on Amazon. ■