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Turlock woman discovers passion for painting at 94 years old
Evelyn Matney
Evelyn Matney indicates to a piece which she is presently working on alongside her teacher Terry Godinez in her home workspace. The two work side by side on the same painting but the result is always different based on their individual styles, said Matney. - photo by ELIZBAETH ARAKELIAN/The Journal

Although Evelyn Matney is technically a novice painter, but her works of art are far from elementary. In fact, she earned first, second, and third place with her oil paintings at the 2014 Stanislaus County Fair – she is also 96 years old.

Matney possessed an interest in learning how to paint her whole life, but the proper opportunity finally presented itself to her in 2012 when her daughter met painting instructor Terry Godinez at a line dancing class.

“It was just a fluke that it happened,” recalled Matney.

Busy raising children and working, most recently as a substitute in the Turlock Unified School District until she was 75, Matney decided to finally take the plunge to pursue painting at 94 years old with the guidance of Godinez. After an introductory lesson that covered oil, watercolor, and acrylic painting, Matney found her niche.

“I liked oil and no one else did,” said Matney.

In turn, this meant private lessons from Godinez which has blossomed into “a beautiful relationship.”

“It has given me a new interest and something new to do,” said Matney, who has a weekly lesson with Godinez and paints roughly three times a week.

With several landscape paintings as well as old barns and oceanic settings, Matney’s takes a matter-of-fact approach to painting no matter her subject. 

“My teacher says I do sort of folk paintings. I like to paint things as they are. I’m not an impressionist; I guess I’m a realist,” mused Matney. “When I paint things I want people to know what I am painting.”

Apparently they do as Matney has earned five awards total so far at the local fair and has been encouraged to sell her pieces. However, while Matney enjoys painting, she also finds fulfillment in gifting her works to others, namely her family. As one of eleven children, multiple family members have “commissioned” her to paint something for them or requested to receive one of her works as well.

 “I don’t think I could paint long enough to paint for them all,” laughed Matney. “They are so supportive though and it has been a great joy for me and them.”