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3 questions for Pat Oldham, Artist, Jewelry Designer and Fabricator, Raptor Rehabilitator

Pat Oldham

Q:. What role do you think teachers and parents play in recognizing a budding artist, scientist, etc.?

A:. "My kindergarten teacher was a pain because she didn't know what to do with a creative child," said Oldham. "It wasn't until the second grade that a teacher called my parents and convinced them to give me the opportunity to study. I still have the picture that intrigued my teacher; a horse grazing in a meadow landscape. Miss Fran Slinkman told my parents about the Children's Arts Program at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center where I studied for seven years. My junior high teacher, Bob Simpich, took over as a mentor through junior and senior high school and helped me get into the art program at the University of Kansas for my formal education in jewelry and silversmithing with a minor in geology. I received a teaching certificate from the University of Colorado."

These two teachers have remained touchstones in Oldham's life as she received an invitation to Ms. Slinkman's 90th birthday party back in Colorado, and Mr. Simpich and she are still in touch.

"Also, parents need to provide raw materials - lots of crayons, markers, pencils, etc. just for the fun of it. Coloring books tend to make children stay within the lines and sometimes the colors are prescribed by the author," added Oldham.

Q:. Do you think coloring books stifle creativity?

A: "Not necessarily, for when I worked for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, I illustrated three different coloring books which were published by Viking Press. I also illustrated many posters and other literature published by the Game and Fish. A few years ago, they contacted me to paint the dioramas on the walls of their new Game and Fish Building on the New Mexico State Fair site. That is a permanent exhibit. Back to coloring books and drawings, I always asked my children, 'Tell me about this (drawing)' and didn't say, 'Why did you do this?' Try to find out what they are telling us."

Q: You are known for painting, wildlife raptor rehabilitation and education, jewelry making, sewing and costume designs, illustrating and a myriad of other domestic activities. Is there any advice you would give to someone who seems to be similarly "unfocused"?

A:. "Yes, I remember being told over and over by family and friends, 'If you would only focus!' My problem is that I do so many things well and still don't know what I want to be when I grow up! I live a creative life-style and am so blessed to be a steward of a lot and really don't want to waste it. I am celebrating what I do in celebrating life. A friend of mine just asked me to do a pastel of her dun colored horse, so I am back to drawing again. My daughter, Piper, and I share an interest in doll clothes. I create outfits for Vogue Ginny Dolls that commemorate family events like this one of another daughter's ballet recital or the one of Piper when she received her master's degree in art even down to the purple sandals she wore under the gown. Right now, I'm working on fairy tales and stories like "The Wizard of Oz.' I have finished Dorothy and Toto and now onto the witch. Right now I have a display of my jewelry for sale at the Franklin Art Museum in Brainerd. Last year, I was asked to display some of my paintings at Dunn Bros. Coffee here in Bemidji. My husband, Ronald, (retired Bemidji State University education professor) and I are making a joyful noise because although financially tight, it's been a good life."

3 questions is a Q&A feature by Patt Rall that will be published one Sunday each month to give readers a chance to meet artists from the Bemidji area. Feedback is welcomed via email at