Artist and Friend

I met Valda Cuming (1929-2020) in 2005 when I joined the Beaumaris Art Group and Valda’s Watercolour class.

We hit it off straight away. She was the type of person to make you feel at ease and after some discussion I found out that Valda’s youngest son Doug had sailed the same class of yacht as my husband many years ago. So the yachting history reignited the friendship with all the family and Valda.

At that stage Valda and her husband Lindsay had their own yacht moored up in Mackay Queensland and would go up every winter to cruise around the islands. Valda created incredible visual diaries from her trips and in fact she had been practising her skills long before I met her in the art of En Plein Air.

Valda was a very popular teacher and had a very eclectic style to her paintings but even more so I discovered her talent for amazing award winning sculptures and pottery. It was worth the trip every year to go to the Flower and Garden Show at the Royal Exhibition Buildings to see her pieces. Later she got arthritis in her hands mainly due to using chisels and hammers to sculptor rock and wood. So the pottery kiln remained unused.

She was an active member of the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptors. She loved her involvement in the Exhibitions and on the committee.

After 10 years I was able to join the Beaumaris Art Group Outdoor Painters which Valda was the Convenor. I wasn’t that proficient at En Plein Air but Valda would always tell me to simplify the subject and try not to paint everything that you see. Every Tuesday I would persist and Valda would always have words of wisdom about my paintings.

She was painting En Plein Air right up to the end of March 2020. She loved her art but even more the companionship and collective love of outdoor painting in the group. The last two years of her life I had endeavoured to bring her on Tuesdays to all the bayside locations so she could paint and not worry about battling the traffic, parking and lugging art equipment.

Even though she was frail she still persisted with the result of fantastic drawings and paintings in her visual diaries.

The greatest honour for her was the Order of Australia for her services to the Arts in 2019. She had certainly achieved and deserved all that and more in her long and illustrious art life.

By Rebecca Robinson MSWPS