Prairie Cottage resident Paul Dohr has been creating art for most of his ninety years. He grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin during the Great Depression, one of nine children. At 17, Paul graduated from high school, knowing in another year he would join the Navy to serve in World War II. In the meantime, he attended Layton School of Art in Milwaukee.
Following the war, Paul completed his education at Washington University in St. Louis on the G.I. Bill, majoring in advertising design, marketing, and graphic communications. “My education served my future well,” says Paul, who became an art director, marketing manager, and national account executive from coast to coast with Marathon Packaging Company.
Paul’s true love, though, is creating and teaching art – watercolors, in particular. Over seven decades, Paul has shared the joy of painting with hundreds if not thousands of adults. “By starting simple, you can get good at it,” says Paul who describes his style as a blend of abstract and impressionism. “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.”
Paul begins with the lightest colors on the page first. “Transparent watercolor is my preferred medium,” he says. “The white paper shows through transparent colors. I liken this to sun illuminating stained glass.” He also never uses white or black paint, and his tools consist of ordinary household paint brushes.
In addition to teaching, Paul has exhibited art in juried shows and has paintings in several permanent collections. On his 90th birthday, Paul was asked by Duke Energy World of Energy in South Carolina to put on a one-man art show, entitled “Nifty Ninety Still Young at Art.” (He had also held a show there at age 80 that attracted 1,000 guests!) However, Paul says, “My greatest joy is seeing the progress of the students in my classes. It’s been a wonderful life,” says Paul.
Paul and his wife, Ellie, a retired nurse, recently moved from South Carolina to the Prairie Cottages at Chelsea Retirement Community (CRC). On October 3, Paul will hold an art exhibit and class at the Dancey House Mezzanine at 3:00pm for his new CRC neighbors. For more information, call Hazel Mead at 734-433-1000 ext. 7433.