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More MS news articles for January 2003

Painter doesn't let MS keep her down

Four years into making watercolors, local woman,1413,88%257E10975%257E1104389,00.html

Saturday, January 11, 2003
By Scott Steinberg, Staff Writer

WHEN GOLDIE SCHNITZER paints wicker chairs in front of a French storefront or the sleek gondolas of Venetian canals, she uses her right hand.

But when the strokes can be broader, looser, she uses her left hand.

It's a technique determined by the tremors in her right hand, and by her almost 20-year battle with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease that shreds the central nervous system, causing loss of muscular coordination and speech deterioration.

"My doctor says my body can no longer go into full remission. I don't believe him," said the San Ramon artist on the relapsing-remitting disease.

"Denial is a good shock absorber," the 53-year-old said, taking a brief look at her right hand curled beneath her heal-thier, livelier other hand.

"Besides, I like the opportunity to be more of a right-brain thinker," she said, referring to cross-brain functioning of using the left hand.
Schnitzer, a retired dental assistant, has painted watercolors for just 4 years. She has joined an active network of practicing artists in the Valley. She is a member of the Pleasanton Art League and the Alamo-Danville Artists Society.

In addition, she and seven other women -- all students of former Livermore watercolor instructor Dawn Heim -- have formed an informal but tight-knit artists group that shows around the Valley and travels to out-of-state workshops.

And on Saturday, the group plans to attend Artists Day at Forest Home Farms on San Ramon Valley Boulevard. The city of San Ramon opens the grounds -- the former land of Travis and Ruth Boone -- four times per year specifically for artists to roam the 16 acres in search of subject matter.

"It's a great place to paint if you like rural subjects," said San Ramon artist Norma Webb, who has been painting for 35 years. "There's every kind of tree you can think of out there."

Schnitzer does not consider herself an open-air painter and, by large, works from photographs and her imagination. She has never been to Europe although half her paintings concern that continent.

"I keep my camera available at all times," Schnitzer said, "for life's little moments. And all my friends who go to Europe show me their photos."

She will take her camera to Forest Home Farms and have her eye trained on light contrasts such as "a deep shadow dropping down on an iron gate."

Through practice and her club memberships, Schnitzer has abandoned a paler palette and learned to be bolder with her colors.

"I used to be afraid of color," Schnitzer said. "I tell myself that there are no mistakes in my paintings. If I don't like something, I turn over the paper and start over.

"My group has learned to call the work we don't like studies."

The Oakland native is among many local artists who extol the artistic community of the Tri-Valley, and the attendant social opportunities.

Annette Mack, a San Ramon artist, has yet to attend Artists Day at Forest Home Farms. But she considers such opportunities the impetus to complete her previously neverending works of art.

"It's always fun to get around other artists," said Mack. "You're seeing what they're doing and how they're interpreting what you're seeing. . . . It's a jumping off point, a chance to work off the energy of other people."

Artists Day at Forest Home Farms begins at 7 a.m. Saturday for those who wish to catch the early morning light. The event ends at 2 p.m. A park docent will give a tour of the grounds at 11 a.m. Artists Day is free and open to everyone. For information, call Kim Guiliano at (925) 973-3281.

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