February 10, 2013

She's painting their past on the wall – with guidance

Creation of a mural at an Auburn retirement home adds color to residents' lives in unexpected ways.

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Artist Francine Schrock paints a blue jay on a section of her mural.

Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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South Portland artist Francine Schrock works on a section of the mural she is creating at an Auburn retirement community, where the residents provide much advice.

They suggested specific animals, scenes and settings, including tree species and other details.

For Schrock, who is accustomed to painting on relatively small canvases, the mural project required a massive jump in scale and vision.

It has given her a sense of appreciation of the work of Massachusetts-born Porter and other 19th-century painters who traveled the countryside creating pastoral scenes in the private homes of residents. Porter's nephew, Jonathan D. Poor, painted many homes in Maine. Their murals are all over New England, especially in rural Maine.

The Porter story is interpreted at the Rufus Porter Museum in Bridgton.

Many of those early murals are now covered by wallpaper or multiple coats of paint. But many others have been conserved and preserved, and there is growing awareness of, and interest in, this kind of work.

Although she is new to the field, Schrock sees herself as a descendant of the muralists of the 1800s.

"It's certainly a different kind of painting. I can't obsess over details as I might with some of my other paintings," she said. "But it's a lot of fun, and it really allows you to use your imagination and think about your subject in a different way."

The project has been rewarding, because Schrock knows she provides a meaningful experience for these elderly residents.

She has made many new friends, and feels she is the beneficiary of the project.

"Working with these wonderful people has been amazing," she said. "This project has become very important to me, because it has allowed me to connect with them, to get to know them and become friends with them. They tell me stories about their lives, and they tell me what they want to see in the paintings. It's an honor to work with them."

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:


Twitter: pphbkeyes


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