FAIRFIELD — Clara Podger likes to joke that things such as housekeeping can wait. Painting comes first.
Podger, 75, has a lot of painting to catch up on. She enjoyed artwork in her youth but when it came time to choose a career, off to nursing school she went. Work, and six children, kept her busy until her retirement at age 68.
Four years ago, Podger’s only son, Dan Podger, died suddenly at age 46. She was devastated by the loss and found solace in painting. He was also a big fan of her work.
“He always wanted me to paint,” she said. “Now it’s almost like I hear him saying, ‘Get to work Mom.’ ” she said.
Podger dreams of painting 40 hours a week. “I seem to get sidetracked an awful lot,” she said.
Her current focus is on organizing the paintings she will sell in her booth at the Oct. 5 Waterfront Festival featuring Art, Wine and Chocolate on the Suisun City waterfront.
She recently started participating in such events. Locals may remember her from the 2012 Tomato Festival. She also sold at this year’s Benicia Peddler’s Fair and the Art, Wine and Brew Festival in Vacaville.
“At this point I have to make room for more,” she said. More, as in more paintings. Podger paints in a small area of an enclosed patio at her Fairfield home.
“It’s my own little corner of the world,” she said.
With several works in progress and many more completed, Podger is ready to part with her renditions of scenes in the area, as well as Yosemite. She also has a selection of animal and landscape paintings.
A trademark dragonfly can be found on her most recent work. The insect’s appearance was inspired by what happened to family members after the death of Dan Podger.
When Podger notified her son’s twin sister, Dee Dee Ferro, of his death, she took a walk around the bed and breakfast where she was staying. In the midst of her tears, two dragonflies came and sat on a rock next to Ferro. She took the friendly visit as a sign from her twin brother.
A week later, to the hour Dan Podger died, three dragonflies glided over the pool in Clara Podger’s backyard. They left and came back.
The family has experienced many encounters with dragonflies since the death of Dan Podger.
Clara Podger was one of 14 children. Her mother died giving birth to her. She has survived cancer twice and had a stroke during one of those battles.
“I’ve lived three of my nine lives,” she said.
She retired after working as a medical technical assistant at the California Medical Facility. Podger returned to school when she was 40 to earn her nursing degree.
Other work experience includes time as a teacher’s aide as well as her own upholstery business.
One of her works-in-progress is a painting of The Rankin House in Ohio. It’s one of the better-known sites that helped the Underground Railroad. It was built in 1828. One of Podger’s daughters got a grant to do research on the Underground Railroad.
Podger has six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.