The 94-Year-Old New Sketch Artist At Cape Regency
CENTERVILLE, M.A. — Pearl Blackburn was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in April 1928.
She doesn’t reflect much on her younger years, but her story began when she met a young man named Joe at her afterschool job. She knew he was the man she was going to marry. When she speaks of Joe, she refers to him as “my Joe.” Her face lights up and the smile melts your heart. The two later moved to the Cape in 1977 to follow their daughter, Cindy Robotham, and their love for the area.
She states, “I had a good life, a wonderful husband, and our two daughters.”
Pearl was a craft wizard most of her life; she knit, was a quilter, and loved design. After Joe died, she came to live at Cape Regency Rehabilitation & Health Care Center in 2016. Pearl had stopped using her creative talents at that time. She soon adjusted to her long-term placement while attending some scheduled events and making a few friends along the way.
During the COVID-19 pandemic and with visitor restrictions in place, Pearl turned inward and spent a lot of time in bed as she would say, “I am resting. That is why I am here, to get some rest” always with kindness and poise. While Pearl is an Aries, of which are known to be direct, passionate, and confident, she is a gentle soul. Once the pandemic restrictions were lifted, Pearl began attending programs again. One of those was a painting event even though she said she was not a painter. The class was an unconventional cow painting/sketching class. Her medium of choice was colored pencils. The rekindling of her passion for art happened at that moment.
Her love of sketching took off. Pearl freehand draws animals from her memory and copies pictures she enjoys while sitting in the comfort of her bed. She recently focused her work on elephants. When asked why, her reply was, “They are the most like humans. They protect their young and the young of the herd. They have great love for family. That is the most important thing to me as my family has been the most important achievement of my life.” Her daughter even had note cards made from Pearl’s elephant drawings.
Pearl gives her art to everyone who finds pleasure in them.
“It is all I have to share with my friends and the kind people who help me every day,” she said.
The staff at Cape Regency have enjoyed watching Pearl find that creativity again. Some have even taken sketches home. Recreation Director Catherine Tarr said it’s a blessing to see a “Pearl original.” She adds, “Pearl is a kind sole who feels lucky to have found her new passion of sketching. Her ability to find a new job and passion in art at 94 shows us there is always a new adventure waiting for you if you are brave enough to explore all the options put in front of you.”
Tarr continues to say it is both a pleasure and privilege to have Pearl at Cape Regency. Cindy credits Catherine for sparking this new interest in her mother and says it is “extremely wonderful” to see the joy her mother has when sketching.
“She teaches us patience and preservation and to keep our eyes open for the next adventure. It is a great day when we go to visit Pearl and she has a smile on her as she shares her latest masterpiece. She told me the secret to a good life is to love completely with your whole heart and be open to the things God shows you every day,” Catherine said.
Pearl will turn 95 in early April.