A life on canvas

Grace Gilbert is an artist. She has seen the pyramids of Egypt on a runaway camel, ate oatmeal for what she believed to be her last meal when a WWII destroyer turned cruise ship hit rough waters, toured China and Russia before tourism was even allowed, dragged her cousin all over Europe to admire the work of legendary artists and has shown and sold her own art all over the state. Now, at age 91, Gilbert said she plans to paint until the day she dies and has her latest showing, Homage to Monet, at Sorelle Gallery on Broadway in Saratoga Springs until March 6.

I come from a family with good genes; my mom lived until she was 95. I can't imagine my life without painting. My hand is very steady and I don't have any physical problems so why should I stop painting now? said Gilbert, who lives in Amsterdam.

She said she paints in nearly every style and puts into images what she sees and feels, so her work mimics her life.

"When something special happens in my life, I do a painting about it. I painted my mother at age 16, middle age and when she was old. When my husband passed away I painted him walking into the light," said Gilbert. "Whenever I see something beautiful I take a photograph of it and paint it. I carry a sketchpad around with me and am always sketching in pencil."

She said it wasn't easy to break away from her family's tradition of pursuing music instead of art. For years, her mother made her take piano lesson until she realized she wasn't learning anything because she didn't want to be doing it. Instead, Gilbert said she would rather be sketching her cousins.

She spent 64 years teaching in the public school system and continues to teach every Monday in a rented room at an old Catholic School. Gilbert teaches acrylics, oil paint and particularly loves children's art.

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