“I don’t know where this came from,” Sr. Paula Howard, Order of Saint Benedict (O.S.B.) told her friend Sr. Mary Nowell, O.S.B., during our Door-to-Door interview in Atchison, Kansas. “But I’ve always had this yen to paint.”
After decades of teaching and administrative work at Bethlehem University and Donnelly College, Sr. Paula retired from education in 1999. When asked how she’d like to spend her retirement, Sr. Paula said in passing that she’d always had the urge to paint and began taking art classes at her community’s Sofia Center. “I’d been listening to Bob Ross on television, and seeing him do these happy little trees, I kept thinking, ‘That looks really easy.’”
In the following months Sr. Paula experimented with different types of art forms but painting, indeed, stuck. What drew her closest to this method was the creation of icons, or storytelling through pictures of sacred characters and images.