When 86-year-old Modine McLimore paints, she loses track of time. As her husband always said, "If you don't say anything to her, she'll forget to eat."
McLimore said when she is painting she doesn't worry about anything.
"I'm so focused on what I'm doing, I don't even think about anything else," she said.
McLimore lives at the Haven Senior Assisted Living Center, where she keeps many paintings. She also keeps a close eye on the birds outside her window, watching them between curtains she sewed herself. She has painted more paintings than she can count and she feeds the birds everyday.
She started painting when she retired 22 years ago, after her husband, who also painted, recommended she try her hand at it.
"My mother always said I loved colors when I was a little girl, but I never painted all those years," McLimore said.
Now McLimore often paints landscapes, birds, flowers -- particularly petunias, roses and peach blossoms -- and other wildlife. She quit painting a few years ago, until she moved from Arizona back to Colorado, which she says is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
McLimore doesn't paint as often as she once did because she says she is getting tired. But her daughter, Jo Ann Adamek, and Haven Director Lucy Rickman say painting is what keeps her going.
"Her artwork is like a light for all of us," Rickman said. "It moves you. It gives you a spark of life."
"There's a story behind every one," McLimore said, pointing to oil paintings in her portfolio. She has painted a several portraits that are now hanging in various establishments throughout the West, including a portrait of the old barn near Mount Werner in Steamboat Springs and a series of more than 200 outhouses she was inspired to paint from living in rural Arizona.
"I painted a couple, and then it seemed everybody wanted one," McLimore said.
Haven employee Jennifer Swedberg bought one of the paintings. She said it reminded her of her grandfather's farm in North Dakota.
McLimore has a keen eye for birds. At the lunch table, she looked out the window and named two species from a good 15 yards away.
"She loves the outdoors," Adamek said. "If she doesn't get out, she'll get grumpy."
So McLimore often walks among the daffodils surrounding the Haven, soaking up the natural beauty. If inspired, she will come in and paint one of the birds or flowers she saw.
While McLimore loves being outside, Adamek says her mother's beauty comes actually comes from within.
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