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St. Clair Shores

The portrait of a lifetime

December 5, 2012

» click to enlarge «
William Trinkaus paints at his kitchen table. Here he works on a portrait of Willie Nelson.
Trinkaus has many of his paintings displayed on the walls of his house.

It’s not a lifelong passion so much as one that arose late in life, but a local retiree is making up for lost time with his paintbrush.

Now 90 years old, William Trinkaus has lived in St. Clair Shores for more than 50 years, through his medical training at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, a tuberculosis diagnosis and his decades as a general practice physician in Eastpointe.

Perhaps typically, he logged many, many hours on the golf course during his years in medical practice. He was a member at Sunny Acres on Little Mack in Roseville until the site was purchased by Meijer, and then he became a member for more than 20 years at Cedar Glen in New Baltimore.

“After I couldn’t score well in golf anymore due to my age … I finally had to stop playing golf, and since I had a lot of old paint and old paintbrushes, I decided to try my hand at painting again,” he said. “Since I never painted portraits, I decided I would do that (and) painted my first self-portrait in 2010.

“It feels like something I have to do, even though I don’t feel like it at times. It’s just a compulsion, I guess, maybe transferred from golf to painting. Because I was addicted to golf.”

Trinkaus said he mixes his paints on pallet paper, and one day he noticed something new.

“I noticed that the paint that was left on the pallet paper looked kind of interesting,”
he said. “I decided I would manipulate leftover paint to make another painting. I found that so rewarding … (I) painted 320 of them.”

Trinkaus doesn’t have a fancy studio set up; he paints at the kitchen table.

“For the rest of my life, that’s what I enjoy doing and it keeps me busy,” he said.

Along with exercising at the Lake Shore Family YMCA and attending Lakeside Palette Club meetings, Trinkaus said the painting keeps him motivated day after day.

“It’s a mess when I start and when I finish. At least for me, it’s something that is rewarding and I know when to quit,” he said. “In painting, if you keep going beyond a certain point, you may ruin the painting.”

And when his son bound photographs of his paintings into a book, “My Paintings,” Trinkaus decided he wanted to share them with the community, so he donated a copy to the St. Clair Shores Public Library.

Library Director Rosemary Orlando said it is their practice to accept local authors’ work “because we do have a Michigan collection and a local history collection, and we feel that accepting that and putting those in the collection is part of the mission.”

She said the St. Clair Shores Cultural Committee is even establishing an “artist database,” currently under construction, at www.scs for local artists, authors and musicians to have their work and talents accessible to residents.

Trinkaus recently donated a second collection, “My Abstract Paintings,” and Orlando said she was very impressed with his work.

“Probably my favorite one is called ‘Ice Fishing’ because I appreciated the Lake St. Clair” connection, she said. “They are abstract and, as Dr. Trinkaus said, everybody interprets the abstracts a little bit differently.”

Trinkaus’s books can be found in the non-fiction circulating collection of the library through an online search of the library catalogue for his name as an author, or by title.

“It’s a very impressive book,” she said. “It’s very enjoyable to look through.”

“It’s a place where they can see my paintings,” Trinkaus said. “I think artists, probably egotistically, like people to see and enjoy what they do, if they do it.”

Trinkaus said he only paints in acrylic and has about a dozen prints of his work on display and for sale at Rainy Day Art Supply in Grosse Pointe Woods.

“I’m not really that interested in selling the paintings, but I guess it would be rewarding if someone was interested in buying them,” he said.

He’s also tried to encourage other retirees to take up the practice.

“Especially when they feel there’s nothing to do, because it’s been a good experience for me,” he said. “Usually, I plan to spend about a couple hours, but I often get caught up in it and spend longer.”

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