What will you be doing when you’re 100 years old? If you’re as lucky as Edith ‘Edie’ Roeder, who became a centenarian last September, you’ll be picking up a paintbrush often and creating beautiful art to be enjoyed for generations.

Edie is the latest artist to exhibit her work in the children’s wing ‘art gallery’ as part of ART@EPL, our partnership with the Lehigh Art Alliance and Lehigh Valley Arts Council that’s now in its second year.

Stop in to see Edie’s paintings up close and keep reading to learn more about this local treasure and her ‘second life’ in art …

How did you get started with painting?
Trained as a high school English teacher, I looked forward to retirement at 65. An artist friend where I lived in Palmerton was offering a short course in her home on oil painting for beginners. I signed on and found myself among five or six other housewives listening eagerly as Mary listed the materials needed and indicated the art magazines available for selecting the subjects we might like to try. Pausing beside each student, Mary gave us a good start. In a few weeks, were were trying still life, and by spring we were on our own.

Mary cautioned us never to copy another’s work, but to photograph a scene we liked, creating a work all our own. I recall practicing out in the yard where light was good and where dangerous fumes were wafted away.

In later years, David Richards from Allentown gave us pointers, and I did sign up at the Baum School of Art for a workshop with Dana Van Horn, a well-known realistic artist.

You’re still a prolific painter and your work is shown and sold in local galleries, so it sounds like retirement was not in the cards. What inspires your paintings?
I’m strictly an amateur, and I paint because I enjoy the hours at the easel. My house provides a very well lighted space — an enclosed porch that’s 30 feet by 13 feet — where I can stand well back to evaluate my progress. My favorite subjects are the flowers in my gardens and local buildings, houses and barns, which show the skill of early builders. To me, these are works of art.

What has been your hardest challenge, and how did you overcome it?
My greatest challenge at first was learning to produce realistic buildings. A grid became of great value. Now, I spend more time trying for just the right color. For that purpose I purchased reliable paints in a great variety, and I stay as close to nature as possible.

What achievements are you most proud of?

To my great surprise my art is popular, perhaps because the subjects are familiar.

What’s your advice for anyone who wants to explore art, but can’t seem to find the time or feels intimidated by a blank canvas?
I recommend a fine teacher; one who inspires confidence. It is important also to stay alert for new ideas. My own work has changed greatly over the years. To the methods that Mary showed us, I have add many others that bring me closer to the results I want. Sometimes I come close to painting the truth as I see it.

[You can learn much more about Edith Roeder and her background in this 2013 Morning Call feature.]


ART@EPL is the library’s exciting partnership with the Lehigh Art Alliance and the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. The series is funded through a grant from PA Partners in the Arts, making it possible for area residents to enjoy free art lectures, exhibits, and workshops from local artists working in pastels, charcoal, sculpture, and watercolor among others.