ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — When he was a child, Brad Haroldson saw a lifelike pencil sketch his mother drew and thought she had artistic talent.
But he didn’t give it much thought, since his mother, Beverly, painted her own house, fixed the roof and deck. And now that the 72-year-old is recovering from a brain injury, she is surprising him once again by creating watercolor portraits of lighthouses, seashells and watering cans.
The Severna Park Center recently used her work in an art show that raised $2,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association.
“Nobody knew she was an artist. I’m very surprised,” said Brad Haroldson, during a visit to the Genesis HealthCare facility.
This is the eighth facility to care for Haroldson, since she fell from her bike and hit her head three years ago. Here, she is among the 24 patients in the Alzheimer’s Dementia Care wing who are given daily recreation activities.
During an art session, Homestead recreation director Gabrielle Michaud had everyone draw flowers, and she was impressed with the ones Haroldson did.
Michaud gave her paints and paper and the projects continued from there.
Since then, Haroldson has done about a dozen watercolors. Her artwork is usually inspired by the outdoors, since she often sits outside in the facility’s back patio area to paint. Currently, she is working on a painting of birds.
“Being from Minnesota and seeing all the different birds and styles, it feels comfortable to me,” said Beverly Haroldson, a retired psychiatric nurse who lived in Pasadena before her accident. “It just feels comfortable to me. Even though I’m here, I like them.”
In November 2008, Haroldson was on a bike ride in York County, Pa., with one of her sons and two grandchildren. She ran into a boulder face-first and suffered a severe head injury. She was in a coma for three weeks and has dementia as a result of the accident, Brad Haroldson said.
Many patients with brain injuries have a time of day where they get frustrated because they know they have to do something, but can’t remember what it is. This period, called “sundown,” usually occurs between 3 and 5 p.m., when the patients remember previous lives in which they had to fix dinner and pick children up from school. But giving Haroldson an activity she enjoys, like art, has lessened that anxiety, Michaud said.
Aside from watercolors, Haroldson has done other artwork. She took an old cabinet and painted it so it looked like a window covering a clouded sky. Once, Michaud gave her a bouquet of purple flowers as a model. Haroldson painted them, but she made each one a different color.
“People with Alzheimer’s still have beauty inside them to share,” Michaud said. “Who knows what she would have painted if she’d been painting for years?”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)