Consuelo_CovarrubiasPosted: Saturday, March 19, 2016, Aberdeen, SD.
By Kelda J.L. Pharris

View photos of Sister Consuelo and her artwork HERE

For nearly 60 years, Sister Consuelo Covarrubias has been reaching out to every community the Presentation Sisters have sent her to.

In her travels, she revisited an old pastime she had as one of nine children growing up in Montana — painting.

She said it relaxes her from her usual duties of working with Hispanic outreach programs. Other sisters at the Presentation Convent cross-stitch or create decorative and functional housewares as a break from their daily tasks.

“Well, we just have to get away and think of something else sometimes and I thought, ‘Oh, painting.’ To me, it’s very relaxing,” Covarrubias said.

She started painting more regularly when she was in the St. Paul, Minn., area in the late 1970s. Painting workshops and classes were offered through the Notre Dame sisters. They painted flowers, fruits and outdoor settings from pictures. Her first painting still hangs in her room in the convent. It’s a spray of white-and-ruby-toned flowers done in acrylic. The other pieces in her room feature landscapes and birds. She likes capturing the calmness of the outdoors.

“I used to just love walking The outdoors is place you can meditate, let go and just be.” Covarrubias said. “It just relaxes me if you can let go because things can get really busy.”

Covarrubias’ parents moved to Montana from Mexico in 1921. She is bilingual, so the Presentation Sisters have sent her to places such as the Twin Cities, East Chicago, Indiana and Wisconsin to help with Hispanic outreach.

She took painting instruction when and where she could along the way. In Indiana, she took watercolor portraiture from Joe Fettingis. With him, she created her favorite picture, a portrait of a retriever dog. Covarrubias isn’t quite sure why it’s her favorite, but likes how she was able to convey the dog’s attentive look.

Paintings of grapes, flowers and other portraits adorn some of the hallways in the convent, where passersby can find their own escape and relaxation through her artistry.

Although she hasn’t picked up a brush for a while, Covarrubias still has her supplies and a never-say-never attitude about getting back into painting. Her work continues to pop up on convent walls. Posters announcing greetings and happy occasions are her newest handiwork. She creates them from used greeting cards she gets from others in the convent.

“They had loads of cards, I get them. ‘I’ll give them to Sister Consuelo, she’ll do something with them,’ ” Covarrubias mimics. “Then I go to Hobby Lobby and pick up some other cute things for them. Sometimes, they have butterflies. I love butterflies.”

She cheerfully shows some of her other posters. Each has a positive salutation or celebratory announcement and is adorned with carefully cut out pictures from previously loved cards. Other stickers and decorations embellish the posters. It’s clear she has found a new calm in her most recent artistic venture.

“When I’m working on these little posters, it’s so relaxing and, when I’m finished I think, ‘Oh, that’s fun,’ ” Covarrubias said.