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Inspired artist brings colour to Langford neighbourhood

Alzheimer’s patient’s artworks provide bright, cheerful display in windows
Neil Robertson started sharing his colouring when people were putting hearts in windows for the pandemic’s first responders. Now he rotates a gallery on his windows every couple of weeks. (Zoe Ducklow/New Staff)

A new artist has been discovered in Happy Valley. He is Neil Robertson, a retired banker and former drummer, a grandfather and colouring fanatic.

The windows of the Robertson’s two-storey house display a dozen pages of fully saturated colouring sheets.

“To the artist of the house,” began a handwritten note tucked into the mailbox last Sunday.

The writer thanked Robertson for sharing his art in the window, saying it has made daily walks so much nicer, and signed the note, “Some person walking by.”

Robertson discovered he liked colouring a few years ago at a day care program for seniors. He has Alzheimer’s disease and attends day programs at The Priory and Broadmead long-term care facilities twice a week. He’s been colouring a lot at home ever since. He’s gone through reams of colouring books drawing animals, abstract patterns, mandalas and decorative Bible verses.

In the hallway of he and wife Shirley’s home of four years – they moved back to Victoria to be closer to family after Robertson’s diagnosis – are three of his paintings, done in the style of Bob Ross. The warm green trees have Ross’s signature stippled-brush look, with the smoothest blue sky background.

Last spring when people started putting hearts in windows to thank first responders in the pandemic, Robertson coloured pages and pages of hearts.

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That started a habit and he began rotating the art on display in the windows every few weeks. There might be colourful squirrels, turtles, hearts or flowers.

Shirley supports her husband’s colouring habit, but said she gets tired of seeing the sheets all over their house. But that simple note of thanks has invigorated them both.

“I was touched so much to know that people notice and care,” she said.

Robertson’s works are richly coloured with lush hues – greens, yellows, pinks and reds. He doesn’t have a favourite, he just enjoys colouring them and passing the cheerful pages around.

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