After picking up a paint brush for the first time at 62, Dr. Tom Scantlebury, now 82, has his first exhibition
Dr. Tom Scantlebury, now 82, is ready for his first exhibition showcasing his paintings
Dr. Tom Scantlebury will realize a life-long dream on Sept. 18.
The doctor-turned-artist is having his first show at the Cornwall Library Art Gallery.
“I think my paintings have something to offer people…. My only regret is that I didn’t start until I was in my 60s,” says Tom, 82.
Part of the regret is connected to his childhood.
Growing up with an artistic father made an indelible mark on him.
“To me, my dad, Wally Scantlebury, was the consummate painter. Self-trained as a signwriter, he was able to see what he wanted to paint in his mind’s eye and, with a piece of chalk, a yardstick and his eye, could rough out a set up for a sign and do it all free-hand,” says Tom, describing the man who established Scantlebury Signs (precursor to Sign Craft Inc.) in Charlottetown in 1912.
Because the elder Scantlebury made things look easy, Tom longed to paint, too. But try as he might he could never attain his father’s painting prowess.
“I was never able to get close to his skill with a brush.”
So, Tom decided to put his paints aside to follow an academic path.
After receiving a science degree at Acadia University, he taught health and physical fitness at Prince of Wales College. He also held a variety of other jobs. In 1961 he went to Dalhousie Medical School. Then, after graduating as a general practitioner in 1966 he moved to Bridgewater, N.S. Ten years later he came back to P.E.I., settling in Desable.
“It was hard to grow a practice in a rural setting. People wanted to see a doctor in Charlottetown.”
So, he went looking for greener pastures.
Thirteen years later he moved to the United States, working as a doctor in Mississippi and Maine before signing on as a travelling doctor, trekking off to exotic places with his work.
“Once we lived on Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific, the location for ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’.”
In spite of the exciting life he lived and the adventuress he had, something was missing from his life.
“I wished I could paint but was certain I didn’t have any skill in the field.”
After hearing him complain, his wife, Marion, decided to do something. On his 62nd birthday she filled their living room
with an easel, a canvas and some paints and brushes.
“When I came into the room, Marion looked at me and said, ‘Now shut up, sit down and paint’ So I did.”
She also signed him up for watercolour lessons.
“While it was fun, I decided that watercolours were not for me. That was the end of the lessons for me and everything since has been trial, much error and selftaught,” says Tom.
Many brushstrokes later, he’s happy that he embraced his passion and gallerygoers will finally get to see his work.
But, he doesn’t really care what people think.
“I paint for myself. I am my own critic and my own audience,” says Tom, who is happy with his show, “Eclectic Memories”.
“These are paintings of places where Marion and I have travelled…. When I feel down I look at them and I feel good.”
Dr. Tom Scantlebury puts the finishing touches on “Lobster Suppers on P.E.I.” It’s one of the paintings in “Eclectic Memories”. Scantlebury’s first exhibition opens Sept. 18, 7 p.m., at the Cornwall Library Art Gallery. The show runs until Oct. 26.
“Toys of our Childhood” was inspired by Dr. Tom Scantlebury’s early memories.
Dr. Tom Scantlebury shows two of his landscape paintings. From the top is Mirror Lake, B.C., and French River, P.E.I.
Dr. Tom Scantlebury credits Marion, his wife of 61 years, for helping him realize his dream of becoming a painter. The couple has five children.
This is a painting of Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific.