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Senior proves you are never too old to learn


Success with acrylics is based on lifelong passion for art

Mary Honma’s paintings are gracing the walls of the gallery at the West Linn Adult Community Center. That her art would be worthy of a solo show is no surprise; what viewers may find amazing is that Honma, now 85, began painting just about 10 years ago.

She takes weekly classes from West Linn art instructor Marianne Rollinson and, through her talent and Rollinson’s encouragement, has been prolific in creating her extremely finely detailed acrylics on canvas paintings.

“Mary is very precise in her work,” Rollinson said. “She doesn’t like to be messy. She likes it to be cleaned up. She is very careful to mix things correctly. Life inspires her art and art brings life. She likes to try new things.”

Honma was born in Hilo, Hawaii, to Japanese immigrants. At the age of 5, she and her mother went to Japan so that Honma could attend school there. She has many fond memories of going to school in Kaita, Japan. Art and drawing were favorite school subjects.

When Honma was 14 years old, under the threat of World War II’s outbreak, her parents quickly made arrangements for her return to Hawaii. She returned on the last ship to Hawaii just before the war began.

So that she could contribute to the family income, Honma learned to sew at the Yamashita Shirtmaker Shop in Hilo. Later, she moved to Honolulu and worked as a nanny.

She married Hiroshi Honma in 1949 and they had a daughter, Joyce. The couple worked hard with the goal of sending their daughter to college. They lived in a rural area of Hawaii at the sugar plantation community, where life was like it is rural areas everywhere; people had to be versatile. Honma sewed for people in the community and also cooked at the Hotel Honokaa Club. The Hawaiian Holiday Macadamia Nut Company was located near her home in Haina, and she worked there for 15 years. Later, she made sushi for Taniguchi Super Market until she retired.

Life has held many interests for Honma. She and her husband were avid gardeners, growing vegetables and flowers year-round. She had great success with the difficult-to-grow anthurium flowers and tended a collection of bonsai. She joined Saga Gorya Ikebana to learn flower arranging. She would sketch pictures of these creations when she wanted to capture the moment.

When the couple moved to West Linn in 1999 to live with their daughter and son-in-law, Honma began studying with Rollinson. She primarily paints landscapes, birds and ikebana arrangements.

“She takes photos while she is on trips and then paints from them,” her daughter, Joyce Jacobsen, said. “She also uses calendars and pictures in books. From her years in Hawaii, she loves to use color.”

A selection of Honma’s art is on display through Aug. 31 at the West Linn Adult Community Center, located at 1180 Rosemont Road. Both originals and archival-quality prints are available for purchase.

For more information about Rollinson’s art classes, call 503-635-9381 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..