Milford watercolor artist paints for Norma Pfriem center

MILFORD — After stopping for many years, George Wiles picked up his brush and started watercolor painting again in December of 2021. He has hardly put it done since.

“I’ve done 35 paintings since December,” he said.

As the Wiles house started to fill up with his paintings, his wife, Arla, had the idea of posting the paintings on Facebook, and many people reached out asking if they were for sale.

“A couple of people wanted to buy them, and I didn’t want to sell them,” he said. “So one of our friends said, why don’t you have a fundraiser?. So that’s what we are doing.”

The Wiles are holding a fundraiser to benefit the Norma Pfriem Breast Care Center on June 5 titled Art by the Marsh.

A $25 ticket gives attendees a chance to win the painting Wiles made of the Old Saybrook Lighthouse.

There also will be a silent auction for two other paintings, Arla Wiles said,

“We are hoping to raise a good amount of money for Norma Pfriem,” she said.

Kate Pigue Haft, special events manager for the Pfriem center, said the Wiles have been incredibly supportive of the center over the years, both personally and professionally.

“We’re honored that they’re showcasing George’s beautiful artwork, while raising funds for the underserved patients at the center,” she said. “Their dedication to our community and our mission is inspiring.”

George began watercolor painting while he was attending Pratt Institute, where he was studying architecture.

“Sporadically, I would do a couple over the course of 50 years,” he said. “I had sketched a painting, and it laid around for about two years. Then one day, I thought to myself, the sketch had been laying around enough, and I was going to paint them. So I painted the sketch, and that is what I started it all off.”

From beginning to the end George said a painting takes him about 12 hours for a quarter sheet of watercolor painting.

“It was during the pandemic that it just hit him to start painting again,” said Arla. “It was just a long winter last year, with not much to do, and this is what he did.”

When their friends told them to hold a fundraiser for a nonprofit, the Norma Pfriem Breast Care Center was first to mind.

“One of Arla’s friends has been diagnosed with breast cancer,” said George.

“We’ve been involved with Norma Pfriem before,” said Arla, adding that they supported Norma Pfriem last year during the Pink Pledge event.

“It’s a wonderful organization. It’s in Fairfield, but not only do they provide great medical care, but they also supply money to patients when they have breast cancer and can’t make their rent or need to buy food. It’s a wonderful organization.”

George said when he started painting again, he was doing it about once a week, and that’s when his wife decided to post them on Facebook.

“I’d paint on Saturday, and Arla would post it on Sunday on Facebook, and all of all sudden, people were responding, and they started to look forward to these paintings,” he said.

“Now it has ballooned into this fundraiser,” said Arla. “We have tennis friends, he has business friends, and they have all expressed interest in coming to the fundraiser.”

She added that the center has never had this style of fundraiser.

“The staff at Norma Pfriem are pretty excited about this fundraiser that Arla originated,” said George. “We know some people from Florida, and they’ve bought tickets. People out in Nebraska have bought tickets. We are expecting a good amount of people at the fundraiser.”

“It’s all starting to come together. We are excited,” said Arla.