“I’ve always been interested in art,” says Charlotte Lough, 76. An artist whose bloom has come in her senior years, Lough moved to Tulsa 4½ years ago from New Mexico, where she was surrounded by the arts but didn’t engage much in creative work because of her career.
“I was a medical speech language pathologist for 25 years,” says Lough, who studied art in college but didn’t pursue it actively after graduation. “I didn’t make time to paint until a couple of years before I retired.”
Since retirement, Lough has made painting her passion and credits it for helping to keep her active and healthy. “I think art is a fantastic way of expressing yourself,” she says. “It helps clarify life, so to speak. It’s a wonderful activity that keeps me alive and thinking. You have to constantly make decisions about what you’re going to do. It’s very much a cognitive task as well as an expressive task.”
Lough’s artwork – mainly painting – is ever evolving. “I do some New Mexico scenes,” she explains, “but the main things I focus on now are wildlife, birds and flowers.” Her recent artwork includes a series of roses that she began in June. “I challenged myself to paint 50 roses in six months,” she says, adding that she chose roses because they are intricate and a good challenge for her painting skills. “I’m on the twelfth one now.”
A dedicated artist, Lough paints about three days a week, attending classes at Ziegler Art & Frame with Ross Myers, a native Tulsan painter who is well known for his expansive Southwestern landscapes. But art is no mere hobby for Lough. It has also helped her to integrate herself into Tulsa.
As a non-native Tulsan, Lough says, she didn’t realize Tulsa had a rich artistic community until she moved here. Since then, she has become active in the Alpha Rho Tau Civic Art Association, which she currently serves as president. The group has 119 members and sponsors a monthly event at the Hardesty Library where local artists do a demonstration or speak on their particular art genre. “That has gotten me very involved in the Tulsa community,” she says.
If you want to view Lough’s work in person, she has three pieces on exhibit now at Your Design in Broken Arrow. But her most exciting exhibit is just around the corner.
“Sometime before the holidays, I’ll have a solo show at Monterau,” she says, referring to the active retirement community on 71st Street between Sheridan and Yale, where she and her husband, a photographer, make their home these days. Birds, Butterflies, and Blooms – a collection of Lough’s favorite subjects – will feature around 50 of her paintings. The exhibit will be open to guests as well as residents.
As for the future, Lough plans to keep on painting. “It’s my passion now,” she says. It’s my priority – that and my husband. Those are my two priorities now.”