Meet Trudy Ahbel-Dallas
“If you want to improve, do something at least every day.” — Trudy Ahbel-Dallas
During my recent visit on a sunny February day — art supplies strewn on top of her bed — Trudy Ahbel-Dallas was engrossed in her painting, adding blue to the ocean waves.
“That is quite beautiful,” I exclaimed, clapping at the sight of the ocean, ready to dive right in.
Putting down her thin paintbrush, Trudy launched into an eloquent discussion and told me that art allows her to escape through the portal of her imagination into other realities. Trudy added that she never gets bored as long as she can capture and express life’s nuances.
I relished listening to Trudy and realized that talking to fascinating and inspiring people like her brought harmony to my extroverted soul. On top of that, admiring her expressive art increased my joy, which matches what Cathy Malchiodi, Ph.D. says in her article Art and Happiness — Can Drawing, Doodling, and Painting Lead to True Happiness? published in Psychology Today.
“The concept of flow points to two happiness factors that have enhanced human life for thousands of years via the arts. One is the capacity to find joy in creativity through the pleasure of invention and exploration. This capacity is based in evolutionary biology to ensure survival of individuals and communities through innovation. The other is the ability to get pleasure and relaxation from creating useful, yet aesthetic objects; this is a form of rejuvenation that is not only practical, but also health-enhancing.” — Cathy Malchiodi
Trudy’s life and background
Coming from a bookish family, Trudy’s life is nothing short of extraordinary. With a grandfather, who was a great physician, and whom she deeply admired, Trudy also participated in music quartets every Thursday, which felt like royalty. Trudy lived on music - her father played the violin and sang in the choir, while her mother took her to listen to the string quartet. Her family also had volumes of art books, since her intelligent and inquisitive mother painted and found harmony in art.
Although Trudy had such a rich cultural life, she had many obstacles to overcome, such as living under the control of the Germans in her hometown, Korneuburg, close to Vienna during World War II and later under Soviet oppression.
These tragic events that Trudy lived through at a young age did not dampen her enthusiasm for learning and studying to become a Doctor of Medicine in Austria. However, after having had bad experiences and fearing for her safety when about 10,000 Russian officers took over her town, Trudy left her country and came to America in 1956 at 31. Her medical training had to be repeated while also learning English. After being able to practice medicine in the US, Trudy spent many years working and taking care of veterans.
At 68, after retiring from practicing medicine, Trudy started painting , her soul hungry for expression, after a natural propensity to doodling her entire life as a way to release stress and cope with living through War World II. Trudy always drew a child and even made her own doll house from paper. She liked to make things and be creative.
Trudy loves to paint using acrylics, oil pastels, conte crayons, pencils, and charcoal. She learned to take advantage of each medium. Trudy improved as an artist by taking her watercolors and paper with her everywhere she went to practice her art. Now, at 97, Trudy encourages the other residents living at the Eskaton community to do more art. Residents love her paintings and some want to buy her art.
Trudy views art as an expression of her soul, the sadness and the beauty all interspersed and rendered in some of the paintings exhibited on the walls of the assisted living unit at Eskaton, as well as in the Eskaton Village Art Gallery.
Korneuburg, close to Vienna — artist’s early years.
Snowdrops — the first flowers of spring, near the Danube River.
First word of the child: “Blumi” near Salzburg.
Flying to Bhutan: good view of Mt Everest.
The immensity of the ocean.
Joy — leaping into the next adventure.
Arrival in Maui after 2300 mile ocean passage with my son and daughter-in-law on their sailboat.
Sequoia in California.
In memory of a friend.
Trudy's life events unfold chronologically, as the titles of her paintings point out to calm impressions of people and places depicted from all around the world.
Moreover, Trudy teaches us to live in a world filled with colors, new horizons, creativity, and harmony, while her thin and thick paintbrushes continue to trace life's profound and intimate longings into reflective renderings of slices of life that will continue to delight and inspire.