Peg Beard is Leach Library Artist for August

Artist Peg Beard didn’t have a lifelong career in art. Indeed, she wasn’t even interested in art until about a year and a half ago, when at the age of 88 she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Leach Library artist of the month for August Peg Beard works on a multi-media painting. Photo by Jay Hobson
Leach Library artist of the month for August Peg Beard works on a multi-media painting.
Photo by Jay Hobson

“It’s amazing,” her daughter Donna Fleming said.

Now, based on her count, Beard has produced about 65 paintings in the last year and a half.

“I will sometimes get up early or even in the middle of the night if I can’t sleep and work on a painting,” Beard said. She primarily uses acrylics in her paintings. One painting, titled “Peggy’s Cove, Canada,” shows a lighthouse in the distance on an outcropping, with rocks in the foreground that are stones glued to the canvas board giving the work a third dimension.

“A lot of what I paint were pictures on calendars,” Beard said. “I love landscapes and outdoors. We went to an art museum and everyone was looking at the pictures but my eye was drawn to the outdoors, and I’m thinking, ‘that would make a beautiful picture.’ They are looking what has been painted and I’m looking at what can be painted.”

Beard said that depending on the subject, she sometimes produces a painting in as little as a couple of hours.

“I love to paint, but I never was interested before,” Beard said.

Fleming said Beard’s doctors are amazed with her painting. “They think that when the Alzheimer’s came, it opened up an area that she didn’t have before,” she said.

Fleming said that if there was one thing she would like to get across after seeing what her mother has accomplished, it is that people with dementia or Alzheimer’s should not give up.

“I want others to know not to give up,” Fleming said.

Beard previously lived in Keene, but moved in with her daughter in Derry after her diagnosis. Her paintings are on display at the Leach Library for the month of August.

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