Don Cox and Wanda Thompson

Don Cox and Wanda Thompson


Two older adults, living down the hallway from each their at the Manor Apartments, share their talents producing award-winning art. 

Wanda Thompson and Don Cox use completely different styles in creating their sought after pieces. 

For years, Wanda has hunted down barns in the Midwest that she has photographed. She then paints them into the grain structure of slices of Myrtle Tree trunks. These trees grow in the southwestern Oregon region. Along with the barn paintings, she uses the same wood slices to accentuate birds and animals she envisions in the wood grain patterns with dynamic results. back. 

She uses acrylics along with pen and ink, noting the ink dries fast. Wanda added, “you’d better be quick.” 

Before Wanda began self-teaching herself art, she made cakes from her home. She made the wedding cakes for five of her six sons. The last son missed out as he waited until he was 49 to get married and she had already sold her cake pans. 

Early on, she began painting rocks and gourds with different artistic images. One rock resembled a car that she took down to her auto shop and gave as a gift. It is still on a desk in that service department, she said. In addition, she gave three of her painted rock owls to the mechanics in the service department. 

Wanda and her late husband volunteered to manage the small RV park at Sharpe Army Depot in Lathrop years back.  She said the commander was so thrilled with the rock she painted for him he gave an order that all the rocks on the base belonged to Wanda. She and her husband made lamps out of the gourds with appropriate artwork on the gourds and gave some to the different commanders when they left the base. 

When the couple arrived at Sharpe they planned to stay only several days in one of the spaces. The cost was only $5 a night. They were soon asked to sign on as the permanent hosts of the facility – which they did – and stayed in that position for several years. They managed the park so well that the base commander had the Army add eight more spaces for them to oversee. 

It was some time later when Wanda met Don Cox. He had a completely new technique with his art, using colored pens – not knowing anything about acrylics – he did watercolors. They have been painting together ever since at the Bethany apartments, she noted. 

Together they painted 140 greeting cards in one day. Don goes to a watercolor class every day in Hughson. He has spent much of his time working with black and white line drawing coloring books. Wanda adds rocks, pools of water and trees to the books—adding to the artistic charm of the landscape creations.

Don’s favorite painting in his apartment is that of a Swiss chalet. He drew the detailed winter scene in two hours. In his apartment is a collection of Swiss chalet coo-coo clocks– most of them work but some are for parts. 

Don has been drawing in the pencil medium since he was 12 years old. He began with color in 2008 and has been doing it ever since. Zen tangles are the rage right now, he said, with 10,000 different designs that he is now using in his creations.