Morris Solomon was always interested in the arts.
When he was 15, his parents sent him to the New York School of Printing, where he learned how to make linoleum carvings and print reproductions of other people’s works. His time there inspired him to pursue a career in printing.
Then, one day in the 1970s when he was visiting his ailing mother-in-law in Brooklyn, he noticed a store advertising painting lessons. “I said, ‘Let’s go see what they’re selling,’” Solomon recalled.
Initially, he said, he just followed the instructor’s directions, but then he decided to paint an original painting of a farmhouse with his instructor’s help. “I had no actual talent,” said Solomon, an Atria Tanglewood resident, “but it was something I liked to do.”
Over time, his skill improved and he ultimately reproduced about 30 pieces of art he saw in magazines, in books and even once on a shopping bag. “I’m getting satisfaction from doing something an artist did,” said Solomon, who did not consider himself an artist because he does not sell his work.
Painting also kept his mind off of his hardships when his wife, Natalie, was in the hospital for eight weeks in 1991 for injuries she sustained in a car accident. She said that Morris visited her every day after work, and the staff at Robert Wood Johnson University in New Brunswick, N.J. eventually lent him a room to paint in. “I felt that I got into a situation that I had no control over,” Morris recalled. “[Painting] kept me busy.”
His family members also noticed his talent and would often request certain reproductions. Now, Morris said, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have his paintings hanging up in their homes and offices. “I’ve got paintings all over New York,” he said, adding that he is still painting at the age of 95. In fact, the Atria provided him with a room to continue painting.
Twenty-five of Morris’ paintings were on display for residents to see at the Atria Tanglewood on March 3. The attention, Morris said, finally made him feel like an artist.
“He’s very impressed with himself,” Natalie said. “[Painting] was nice hobby, and it culminated in this.”