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Growing up in Bundaberg, Bolton Clarke at home support client Judy loved sketching anyone who offered to pose – and sometimes those who didn’t.

 A natural born artist, she remembers a childhood drawing of her stoic dad, Percy, was particularly well received at a Father’s Day portrait competition

She studied art briefly in high school and thought about it often in the ensuing decades, but the pressures of day-to-day life resulted in her natural gift taking a back seat to raising a family and building a life. She eventually settled in Frankston, Victoria.

“As a single mother you do what you need to look after your children. There wasn’t enough time or money to pursue my art.” she says.

Things changed again when five years ago Judy had a stroke that left her with a blind spot, a weak right side and an inability to read.

The resulting loss of confidence saw the once-gregarious 67-year-old become increasingly withdrawn.

“Things weren’t good,” she recalls. She had been experiencing regular falls, or what she playfully calls “a close affinity with the ground”.

Following a referral from My Aged Care, help arrived in the form of Bolton Clarke’s Short-Term Restorative Care Case Manager Briony Underwood, who enjoys thinking ‘outside the box’ with clients.

TheShort-Term Restorative Care Programme is a new government-funded packaged care option that provides time-limited, goal-oriented support through a co-ordinated package of services.

“I normally arrange typical things for people like cleaning, gardening and personal care,” Briony says. “But I like facilitating socialisation, particularly with people who have shut themselves off. When Judy mentioned her love of watercolours, I started researching art classes in the region.” 

Judy’s goal was to rebuild her confidence to socialise and connect with her community by reconnecting with her art. It’s a goal she is well on her way to achieving.

“I very much appreciate Briony’s lateral thinking,” she says, seated at an easel strewn with sketches in her now bright dining room. “The painting classes educate and expand an interest that has always been there. It encourages my creative side. It has been an absolute gift. I’m loving it!”

Judy still has flair, demonstrated by the watercolour bush-landscapes and drawings of her son, daughter and Dutch mother. Her techniques have been polished by respected landscape artist Malcolm Beattie and fellow local class participants.

While remaining a self-confessed ‘wallflower in large crowds’ and a long way from dominating hymns at church again, reconnecting with her art has helped Judy find her “old self”. She says she is laughing more often, better at ease with strangers and acutely aware of beautiful things, especially those she can paint.

“I’m off to Tassie soon,” she says excitedly. “I’ll take snaps of things and colours that interest me – a lot of artists work from photos these days.”

She can also add ‘art teacher’ to her resume, as she passes on her passion to her five-year-old granddaughter, Karter.

“She’s just like I was at that age, always asking ‘Granny, can we paint?’ She has a delicate touch with the brush; I think it’s important not to stab at the paper. I’d like to educate her, so that if she wants to take it further, she’ll have some technique,” Judy says with pride.

Not missed by a smiling Briony is the fact that Judy now refers to herself as an artist.

“We’ve paid for membership at the Peninsula Art Society, funded her first term and pre-paid for the second,” she says. “If Judy wants to continue after that, the world’s her oyster.”

Watching Judy playfully dab Briony’s nose with a paint-free brush before breaking into a chuckle, it’s likely she’ll be painting pearls in the future.