FIND­ING FO­CUS

Af­ter pick­ing up a paint brush for the first time at 62, Dr. Tom Scantle­bury, now 82, has his first ex­hi­bi­tion

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY SALLY COLE

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.”

SALLY COLE/THE GUARDIAN

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.

SALLY COLE/THE GUARDIAN

“Toys of our Child­hood” was in­spired by Dr. Tom Scantle­bury’s early mem­o­ries.

SALLY COLE/THE GUARDIAN

Dr. Tom Scantle­bury shows two of his land­scape paint­ings. From the top is Mir­ror Lake, B.C., and French River, P.E.I.

SALLY COLE/THE GUARDIAN

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.

SALLY COLE/THE GUARDIAN

This is a paint­ing of Pit­cairn Is­land in the South Pa­cific.

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