By RENEE FITE
Inside each person resides an artist, and Pat Ghormley has always tapped into hers.
Whether it was playing with and teaching her children and now grandchildren, or making gifts and items to sell, her talents are diverse and prolific.
The creations she’s created, including a quilted wall-hanging, paper maché bowls painted with angel designs, cloth dolls she refers to as “Nana’s Ugly dollies”, stained-glass, pottery, baskets, and small wooden sculptures, adorn the home she shares with her husband, Connell.
“I create because it’s fun to make something beautiful or useful,” she said. “And I create because I have to.”
She doesn’t paint as much now, as she’s run out of wall space, but since retiring from Green Country Behavioral Health Services as a counselor, Ghormley has had more time to pursue other artistic interests.
People who have been busy all their lives want to find ways to stay busy in retirement, she said. She worked at the Help-In-Crisis shelter for a year, but art, in its many forms, continues to fascinate her.
“I enjoy art activities, especially art projects with children,” she said. “My early memories include coloring pictures and making paper dolls.”
Her family was always interested and encouraging about her “projects.” Two high school art teachers encouraged her.
“I remember Willie Miller; I had her in high school. She didn’t have a rigid agenda; she would help you. She was a creative person, and I think it inspired people to do things,” Ghormley said.
“George Calvert was a talented artist and gifted teacher. He pushed people to do their best. I took several of his classes; he could motivate children.”
Other artistic endeavors include wheel-thrown pottery, painting decorative objects and crocheting.
“I like working with fabric. I’ve made wall-hangings, banners, quilts and hand-bags out of old T-shirts,” she said. “It’s a good way to use something that would have been thrown away.”
Nothing goes to waste, and recycling motivates Ghormley to find new uses for old items.
“The bowls I’m making from newspaper are another recycling project,” she said. “These will be painted with a Christmas motif and taken to an arts and crafts show in Muskogee.
Nana’s Ugly Dollies, are a big hit with her grandchildren, or at least most of them.
“I really think they’re cute,” she said. “My grandchildren like to hold them while they watch TV or lay on the floor with them. One Christmas, the daughters and I were using up some upholstery fabric. A small grandson asked what we were doing. We told him we were making dolls and he said ‘those are the ugliest dolls I’ve ever seen.’”
Beauty inspires her.
“I love to see children get so involved in an art project, perfecting small details, and they lose all track of time,” she said.
Patient adults encourage children to learn and create.
“I grew up very interested in my dad’s shop. He was skilled with tools and was willing to show me the correct and safe way to use them,” she said. “I have turned candle sticks on a wood lathe, soldered metal and tried to weld. I’ve smashed my fingers a number of times nailing some project together. My dad was very patient.”
Ghormley grew up in Muskogee, graduated from Central High School and attended Northeastern State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and art history minor. She also completed a master’s degree in counseling psychology, and is a licensed professional counselor. The couple has three children and seven grandchildren.
“I never taught in public school, I used the elementary education information on my own children,” she said. “Then when I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up, I went back to school and earned my masters.”
Much of her work as a counselor has been with families in distress and foster children, she said.
“I probably use art as therapy, encouraging kids, just letting them get messy and do what they do when you give them materials,” she said. “It’s fun sharing the talents have.”
One interesting project was decorating Ukrainian eggs with friends. They sold them and gave the money to Help-In-Crisis.
Art reflects culture, and tells the story of a people. She likes looking at photographs of cave drawings.
“Maybe there’s something inside of people; they just have to paint on walls,” she said.
“Today, perhaps, we need a balance for all the high-tech, electronic gadgets surrounding us. As for my art, who knows what the next project will be? But I’ll know it when I see it.”