At the age of 40, long-time Grove resident Hazel Barnett picked up a paintbrush and began to take art lessons.

The gift, a present from her husband, Pete Barnett, came as Barnett's children were beginning to grow older and leave the nest.

On Saturday, as part of the Paint the Town With Art, an assortment of Barnett's work was on display at the Heart & Soul Gallery.

A painting, of a mill located at one time between Kansas and Tahlequah, sold for $325 during the gathering, as a way to benefit the Second Chance Pet Rescue of Grand Lake.

Granddaughter, Lorie Hicks, said Barnett had several loves - her family, her paintings and her animals.

Barnett moved to Grove in 1960, when the family purchased 36 acres on the lake. During her lifetime, the family managed Cedar Cove Resort and Red Rock Resort.

She also served as first a receptionist, and then later a nurse, for Dr. Norman Cotner, Sr., for 20 years.

Upon getting the gift from her husband, Barnett drove to Joplin, Missouri, every Thursday afternoon for two years to take lessons from Mildred W. Pelzer an American art teacher, artist and muralist known for her work in public spaces.

The classes took place on Thursday, because Barnett was given the afternoon off each week while Cotner was in surgery. 

At the end of two years, Barnett's daughter, Ladine Boyle, said Pelzer told her mother she was finished with lessons.

"She told her, 'Hazel, I've taught you all you need to know, now go out and paint,'" Boyle said. 

Barnett would paint for many years, until health complications led her to put her brush down in 2008. She died on Sept. 17, 2011.

Boyle said her mother's work can be found around the world, thanks to gifts presented to family and friends. Of the approximate 1,000 paintings in existence, Boyle and Hicks have collected approximately 60 paintings.

For the last few years, the pair have spent time going to flea markets, auctions and garage sales looking for Barnett's paintings. 

Boyle said her mother liked to create using a variety of subjects. She primarily focused on historical buildings, animals and landscapes, but created things with the hopes it would have meaning for her recipient. 

In one instance, she was asked to create a surprise for "Doc" Bates - a painting of his favorite bull.

While creating the painting, Barnett set her easel and oil paints up, and stepped away to get a drink of water. A cow came and "licked" her palette. Boyle said her mother spent quite a bit of time trying to get the paint off the cow's tongue. 

Boyle said she's drawn to her mother's artwork, because it shows "how brilliant" she was, and how her skills grew during her lifetime.

Boyle said her mother could take a bare canvas and create a piece of art within hours. Many of her creations were given to family members as Christmas and birthday gifts. 

"As she aged, her confidence level grew," Boyle said. "It was a hobby, obviously, but she was able to capture things just like you pictured them in your mind."

Hicks said she was proud to showcase her grandmother's art.

"These paintings mean something to us," Hicks said. "It was a great chance to showcase her work, so people could see the collection in one setting.

"She had an incredible, unbelieveable talent."

Susan Newman, owner of Heart & Soul Gallery, said Barnett's tribute was the first time she was given a chance to showcase a local artist in the gallery.

She said it was an honor to do so, because it gave her a chance to share Barnett's works with a new audience.

During the event, several friends and family members spoke, describing the stories behind paintings Barnett made for them. 

In one instant, Barnett's middle grandson, Avery Barnett, told how his grandmother created a painting of a racoon who could often be found in the family's woods. 

Another granddaughter, Hannah Robinson, told the story behind one of Barnett's favorite paintings, which showcases the outline of Jesus standing within the woods.