95-Year-Old Veteran Brings His Art to Life at Brookdale

Growing Up

Blair spent his childhood in a small Ohio town with one stoplight called Rootstown. After graduating high school, he went on to join the U.S. Army for six years and served in both WWII and the Korean War. In 1946, during his service, Blair picked up photography — a hobby that he would continue practicing throughout his life.

After his time with the Army ended, Blair attended the University of New Mexico, where he studied architectural engineering. After graduating, the artist would continue working for the U.S. government, working in space development on projects such as the Atlas Rocket and the Mercury Spacecraft, for a total of 32 years — including the time he served. 

Dipping Into a New Hobby

So, when did Blair have time to pursue painting? During his residence as a student at the University of New Mexico, he finally picked up the paintbrush.  

“I just picked [painting] up while studying architecture. Just a little,” says the retired architectural engineer. “I took two years of painting classes after retirement in 1985 at the College of Marin. It was mostly retired women, and I was usually one of two men.”

Although he took painting classes at the college, Blair explained that the instructor “would only show up for the first 10 minutes of class” and that the students were on their own most of the time to paint and learn independently.

His Painting Process

Although some artists may have a meticulous process when choosing or planning their next project, Blair likes to keep it simple. He always paints from his  photographs, and when deciding what to paint next, the artist says that he “just see[s] it and say[s], ‘I’m going to paint it.’”

His favorite project so far has been a portrait of his mother-in-law when she was 100 years old. 

“[In the image,] she had fallen asleep at a table with a bright-colored tablecloth in just the right position. I took a picture and painted it. It came out good, and humans are hard to paint,” he says.

If you’re looking to pick up a new hobby, Blair’s advice to beginner painters is to “just sit down and start. Don’t get discouraged with what you’re doing. It’ll come, but it takes time. Your brain will adjust to differences in depth and color.”

Want to read more inspiring senior stories? Check out this Physics student who received his Ph.D. from Brown University at 89-years-old.

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