Penny Welch creates art on Christmas balls

Penny Welch of Anniston has had an interest in art since she was a student at Kitty Stone Elementary School and Jacksonville High. She loves to paint and decorate her home.

Sherry Kughn

Jacksonville native, Penny Welch, recently painted dainty scenes on frosted, clear Christmas balls and posted photos of them on Facebook. There were scenes of snowmen, birds, villages, moose, family pets, and Christmas trees.

“Teach us how,” several friends posted. So, she invited them over for a paint party at her home.

Welch has been interested in art since she attended Jacksonville city schools back during the 1960s. She grew up, married her high school sweetheart, and had three daughters. However, she maintained an interest in art throughout the years becoming a member of the Alabama Guild of Decorative Arts and the Decorative Artists Association, and she took lessons for 18 years from art store owner Suevilla Pendergrass of Southside. Throughout the years, she also became a master gardener.

She thinks art and flowers are connected.

Welch is married to Butch Welch. She was reared in Jacksonville, and he was reared in nearby Williams Community. They began “liking each other” when they were only 15 years old. He only had permission from her mother to come to her house and sit on the porch until she was old enough to date. Now they have been married for 48 years. He owns a construction company and is a licensed general contractor and builder. For several years, Welch and her daughters — Rani, Summer, and Haley — decorated the houses Welch’s husband built. Now Rani teaches dance at Jacksonville State University. Summer owns and runs Spa Lillie Massage Therapy in Oxford, and Haley owns Illume Yoga Studio, also in Oxford.

The Welches have stayed close to their friends from Jacksonville High. In fact, soon Welch is hosting a paint party for several of the women who graduated with her. They are all members of a supper club that meets once a month, either at a restaurant or in each other’s homes. The December Supper Club night is designated as a paint party for the ladies, and the husbands in the group go out to eat rather than paint ornaments. Imagine that.

In addition to painting Christmas ornaments, Welch decorates picture frames with old pieces of vintage jewelry; paints Christmas scenes on canvas, wood and even walls; and takes part in the painted rocks program for area cities. Of the latter, she said some of her rocks have traveled as far away as Ireland and Oregon.

Welch said she recently tried to remember which kind of hand-made gift she made her daughters last year. She knew she had made them a picture frame, but she could not remember what else she had given them.

When Haley called, Welch asked if she and her sisters had one of the customized ornaments last year.

“ ‘No,’ ” Haley told her. “ ‘You gave all the others away.’ ”

I believe I know what Welch’s daughters are getting this year for Christmas.

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