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‘…You’ve got to keep painting:’ At 87, Loana Beeson’s passion for art continues to grow

Loana Beeson displays this year’s poster for Victorian Christmas.
Photo: Jennifer Nobles

For over 63 years, Loana Beeson has been following her passion for all things artistic.

Seemingly synonymous with Victorian Christmas, Summer Nights, and a plethora of other local landscapes and events, Beeson’s artwork has earned the 87-year-old the status of local celebrity, her works of pen, ink, and watercolor garnering her admiration from the community and beyond.

Having earned her degrees in Fine Arts and Latin from Cal Berkeley, Beeson and her husband Al made their home in Nevada County, which serves as a continuous source of endless inspiration.

“I believe (this) to be one of the most picturesque of all the small Gold Rush era villages in Northern California,” Beeson said.

For the 28th year, this year’s Victorian Christmas poster is proudly on display in her home, along with a collection of ornaments Beeson has painted, each one unique.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg—her home studio is filled with hundreds if not thousands of pieces from over the years.

“I’ve got so many paintings,” said Beeson. “When (my sons) were 15 or so we built the studio with the help of Bill Falconi and Earl Hiscox. It was a blast. I cooked every day for them. They came over and they built and put this together. When people see how big it is, they can’t believe it. And I’ve filled it up, haven’t I?”

Artist Loana Beeson looks over some of her artwork from years past.
Photo: Jennifer Nobles

Indeed she has. In addition to the vast collection of finished artwork that fills the space, there are many that are unfinished as well as dozens of sketch books she has populated through the years.

To Beeson, painting is something that comes naturally and her eye for what to paint is always wandering, seeking.

“One of the things (artist Richard) Hackett would say: there is a set up,” she explained. “It’s the difference between picking out what you don’t want in a painting; you pick and choose and you leave out, which photographers cannot do.

“Painters get to re-do reality the way they want to see it. It’s just wonderful. On the way to Penn Valley today I saw about four or five paintings. Your eye just grabs on.”

In the past, Beeson has been a beacon at local arts and craft fairs, especially during the holidays. However this year she said she won’t be participating, as the long hours and schedule are more than she is comfortable with.

“The big problem now—and it started with the pandemic— is I used to be out at the fairgrounds for the Thanksgiving weekend and I was right inside the door. Everyone came in and loved what I had, and I sold a lot.

Beeson has been spending recent days adding her signature flair to ornaments.
Photo: Jennifer Nobles

“Once that happened I sat around, my hearing got worse, my eyes. But I just love doing it. You keep going because you’ve got to keep painting. It’s like a disease.”

Collectors, visitors, and art enthusiasts are invited to peruse her gallery of various artworks mostly of her own but with plenty of other artists as well. Beeson is happy to welcome visitors to her studio and much of her collection is for sale. “I want people to realize they can come over and buy these.”

As she ages, Beeson’s enthusiasm hasn’t waned nor has her talent.

“I can’t paint and draw as good,” she said, “but I don’t have arthritis. I got none of that. That is pretty good for 87 years old. It’s the Irish, I think.”

If you are interested in viewing or purchasing Loana Beeson’s artwork please call her at 530-265-4112.

Artist Loana Beeson displays one of a limited run of gift bags she created in the 1980s. The bags were sold at Cornet variety store.
Photo: Jennifer Nobles

To reach staff writer Jennifer Nobles email jnobles@theunion.com, or call 530-477-4232.



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