Retirement home resident showing her watercolors


March 24, 1993|By Amy P. Ingram | Amy P. Ingram,Contributing Writer

Each day, Fern Jacobi stares out the window of her apartment from a leather-bound chair, seeing not just a tree or grass through her 84-year-old eyes, but a potpourri of colors and visual images.

And she is anxious for the day when the nagging illnesses of her age will ease and she can begin painting them again.

Mrs. Jacobi is the first resident of Ginger Cove Retirement Community in Annapolis to have her watercolors displayed in the gallery off the building's main lobby. Eighteen of more than 60 works, most of them detailed nature studies, will be displayed until March 31.

They were selected by the Ginger Cove Fine Arts Committee, whose members were tipped off about Mrs. Jacobi by another resident in the apartment complex off Riva Road near Annapolis High School. They checked out her work and decided to display it.

Among the paintings chosen were a Japanese gate, a picture of a southern magnolia and a detailed painting of an empty house on the edge of a choppy Chesapeake Bay.

"Her works have feeling," said Fred Ness, committee chairman. "They're very appropriate for us who live and love the Maryland area. They have the richness of oils."

A5 Mrs. Jacobi, a charter member of the Maryland Fed

eration of Art, said she began watercolor painting when she was 14. "It was something I'd always wanted to do," she said. "My hand quickly became skilled to watercolor. It became a second language to me."

For the rest of her life, she painted, but only as a hobby. Sometimes, she brought that hobby to her job as principal at Folger-McKinsey Elementary School in Severna Park. She said she used to sneak into the art room to paint with the children. And she wouldn't hesitate to jump in and help a struggling child or even a struggling teacher create an image. She even helped a group of 10- and 11-year-olds write and illustrate their own book.

"The kids would say: 'Wow what a principal,' " she said.

After she retired in 1973, she continued painting, and even exhibited many of her works in the Maryland Federation of Art Gallery. Her favorite paintings are the ones "I've lived through my life," she said.

"I'm always looking for a painting. The Lord paints and I just follow in his tracks," she said, pointing out the window to two birds by a stream.

But Mrs. Jacobi is not a speedy painter. Often, she'll spend days or weeks on one flower. She said it has to feel right, and if it doesn't she'll do it over again until it is right.

Although Mrs. Jacobi has taken a break from painting because of her health, she said she hopes to resume the work this summer.

Her next painting will be the back yard at Ginger Cove -- the one she's been studying from the chair in the corner.

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