A Resident Shares Her Gift of Painting With Phoebe

“If you’re really a painter, it’s born into you,” says Barbara “Bobby” Sechler.

Sechler is a 90-year old resident of Phoebe Allentown, who has always had a passion for painting. Her father noticed her talent when she was in grade school and enrolled her in the Baum School of Art, where one of Sechler’s instructors was Walter Emerson Baum, an American impressionist painter and the founder of the Baum School. She fondly remembers spending her Saturdays during her youth at the Baum School.

Once Sechler married, she never lost her joy of painting, but paused it to raise her six children. Her proudest accomplishment is being a mother, and she always made sure her children came first. As they grew, she found more time to continue painting. “Oftentimes, I would start painting around 11 p.m., once they were in bed. Next thing you know, the sun would be coming up. When you paint, you go into your own world and lose track of time,” recalls Sechler.

When her husband passed away, Sechler’s children decided to send her back to the Baum School to continue taking painting classes. On Thursday evenings, she would learn about new techniques and how to paint models, and fondly remembers a teacher who enjoyed painting dead flower arrangements.

Sechler prefers to paint with oil, but has switched to acrylic paint recently, and has found that watering down acrylic paints gives the effect of using watercolors. This is how she created the painting that was used for Phoebe’s 2021 Holiday Appeal notecard. The notecard was sent to 6,750 supporters and potential supporters of Phoebe, with a message asking the recipient to write a note of cheer to a resident and send the card back. Chaplains at all Phoebe campuses will deliver these notecards to residents in need of cheer, to help brighten their day.

When asked why she paints, Sechler’s answer is simple and from the heart: “I paint because I love to paint.”