By Denise Bacon

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as the old saying goes, and artistic genes find their way through generations. This is the story of long-time Centennial resident Patricia Harris who inherited her mother’s talent for drawing and painting and then passed along this talent to her daughter.

Trained as a graphic artist, Patricia worked as an editor in the internal communications department at an insurance company where she was able to employ her creative talents. Once Patricia had children, she started painting murals in their bedrooms. Friends then asked Patricia to do the same for their children’s rooms and Patricia’s talent and hobby began to grow into a side business for her. She created masterpieces on walls based on favourite characters, stories and themes.

Patricia’s career moved to the Toronto District School Board where she was able to draw on her creativity and artistic talent to help children with special needs learn in non-traditional ways. She created colourful manipulatives through which children could have fun learning through activities. For example, working with the classroom teacher, a theme for learning would be selected like “going on vacation.” Patricia would then create manipulatives like a suitcase and various items that a person would need to go on a vacation. The children would be excited to identify items and to put the right things into the suitcase. The experience was tremendously rewarding for Patricia where she was able to use her talent for art specifically for the benefit of children.

Patricia is retired from full-time work now and she has time to spend on letting her creativity flow. She can envision dragons and other fantastical creatures in pieces of driftwood and bring those characters to life. An old pillowcase can become a welcome sign or a piece of flagstone can become garden art. Patricia loves the challenge of giving new life to something old and rusty to reduce landfill. She works with traditional canvas, furniture, shaker tiles, foam board, rocks, wood, mailboxes and, really, there is no limit to her painting prowess.

Patricia’s recent public work can be seen at Highland Harvest coffee shop in Highland Creek where she has brought the fall season to the shop through a beautiful window mural. She said she loves giving people joy from her art for themselves or for them to share as gifts to others.