To walk through Dorothy Saunders’ home is to walk through rooms filled with memories. The walls are adorned with paintings that Saunders has created.
All the paintings are of real places. From a tropical island thousands of miles away to West Milford during the flooding, Saunders paints places she’s been. She also uses photographs and works off of those to create her artwork. Her paintings are never exact replicas of the photographs or what she remembers. She always changes them in someway before putting brush to canvas. Her artwork is currently on display at the .
“I always have to put my own interpretation into something I create. It’s just what I do,” said Saunders, a 40-year Wayne resident.
Saunders, 83, has been painting for about 20 years. She’s received no formal training. She just decided it was something she wanted to do one day after she retired.
“I was always creative and liked to sketch, but when you work and raise a family, you never have the time to paint a lot, so I started when I retired,” Saunders said. “I’m fascinated by nature. I can see some trees or look out of a window and see something that I can interpret. I guess it’s handed down.”
She said her father often liked to sketch things he found in nature.
Using acrylic paint as her medium, sometimes it could take a week or two for her to complete a painting.
Friends, neighbors, and family members bring Saunders photographs of places they’ve been for her to paint. Sometimes she’ll create a collage from items from two or more images.
Saunders also gives her paintings away to be raffled off at events to support the military. She belongs to a number of non-profit organizations and was president of the New Jersey Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Her late husband Richard was a member of for many years. Her son Richard was a member of for several years.
“Our boys have gone and fought for our country for years so I’m proud to be able to help them because they’ve done so much for us,” Saunders said.
The memories of the people and the places she’s been are part of the creative process for her. The memories come back to her when she’s creating her artwork and she incorporates them into her paintings.
That, Saunders said, it what makes art so wonderful.
“Art allows you a way of putting that something down in a way that let’s others see it,” Saunders said. “Everyone sees things just a little differently than someone else. A shadow on a glass or the way someone folds a napkin. In our mind’s eye, we see something differently than someone else does.”