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Painting makes time fly for Hagerstown woman

December 12, 2011|By JANET HEIM | janeth@herald-mail.com
  • Lucy Ecker paints 12 to 20 paintings a year and donates paintings to community causes like the Potters Bowl and the American Red Cross.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

Lucille "Lucy" Ecker loved sketching and drawing as a child.

"I always wanted to take art classes, but when I was raising family and working full time, there was no time," Ecker said.

Ecker, 74, graduated from Frederick High School in 1955, then went to Frederick Memorial Hospital for their nursing program.

Lucy and her husband moved to Washington County in 1960. They later divorced and he has since passed away.

Lucy started working at Washington County Hospital in July 1962.

"It's home. I love Washington County. I really do. I have no desire to go back," Ecker said.

Once her two daughters and two sons were raised, and after her mother's death in 1984, Ecker had time to reconsider her interest in art.

In the spring of 1985, Ecker and a friend finally signed up for their first class with Clyde Roberts at Howard's on Dual Highway.

"I've enjoyed it ever since I started," Ecker said.

Since then, she's taken classes and workshops from different artists and keeps up on her reading.

"Reading art magazines, you get a lot of ideas," Ecker said.

She also attends the Valley Art Association (VAA) meetings where there's usually a demonstration or slide show following the short business meeting.

As one of the 20 VAA members who pays for gallery space at the Mansion House in Hagerstown's City Park, Ecker takes her turn periodically working when the gallery is open to the public on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The December/January display in the North Gallery will feature an all-member winter exhibit. Looking ahead, Ecker said they're planning for an exhibit to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam with artwork of some of the local community stories of the war.

Ecker retired as a nurse at Washington County Hospital's family birthing center in December 2004.

"That's 42 1/2 years worth of holding babies," said Ecker, who has eight grandchildren.  

Ecker said she paints "everything but portraits" out of her Colonial Park home.

"It's a therapeutic hobby. You can be painting. It will become dark and you don't notice it's dark. You forget to eat. You can get lost in your work. Time flies in a good way," Ecker said.

She said she paints 12 to 20 paintings a year — "sometimes more, sometimes less" — depending on how much time she spends in her garden in the summer and visiting friends and family.

Ecker said artists are rarely completely satisfied with their work and she finds critiques from her son, Chuck, helpful in deciding when to stop and when to keep working on a piece.

Ecker donates paintings to community causes like the Potter's Bowl and the American Red Cross.

Before retiring from Washington County Hospital, Ecker approached the Auxiliary about hosting Art in the Hallways, a program similar to one in Chambersburg, Pa. Ecker was asked to chair the program through the VAA, which required her to become an Auxiliary member and board member.

She continues to organize the program at Meritus Medical Center.

 Ecker's commitment to community includes representing the VAA for the Washington County Association of Museums and Historic Sites, publicizing VAA's meetings and events, volunteering at the Washington County Senior Center, as well as participating in many local art shows, exhibits and festivals.  

She helps with the pew duties and cooking for food sales at her church, St. James Brethren Church, where she's been a member since 1980, although she said she's limited by how long she can walk and stand.

Much of the art, jewelry, sculptures and note cards at the Mansion House Gallery are for sale, in time for holiday gift giving.

"We just want to paint and have a good time — just use our God-given talents," Ecker said.

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