By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
UPPER SANDUSKY — St. Paul Lutheran Church has stood in the 100 block of North 8th Street in Upper Sandusky for 90 years.
About a year and a half ago, longtime member Janis Eippert decided to put her artistic skills to work and create a watercolor painting of the red brick church.
“Every Sunday I’d see it and I thought, ‘Oh, I’d just love to paint this church,'” she recalled.
Church secretary Beth Collins took a picture of the building, and Eippert started painting. She presented the likeness to church leaders, and the painting now hangs in a gathering space for all to enjoy.
A second painting followed, and then another. Eippert has since completed about a dozen paintings of churches, and a partially finished work of the Church of the Nazarene rests on her easel.
Eippert works from photographs taken by longtime friend F. David Gibson. She graduated from Upper Sandusky High School in 1957 with his wife, Shirley.
“I started doing the churches because of Dave taking the pictures,” Eippert explained.
Other paintings she’s completed include First Presbyterian Church, John Stewart United Methodist Church, Trinity Evangelical United Methodist Church and Transfiguration of the Lord Catholic Church, all in Upper Sandusky, as well as St. Joseph Catholic Church and Wildwood Chapel out in the county.
Eippert also painted Gibson’s church, Emanuel United Church of Christ in Pitt Township, which is nicknamed the Mud Church. The Gibsons gifted that painting to the church last April, taking Eippert along.
The Upper Sandusky woman enjoys her hobby.
“I had art in high school but I never did a whole lot. I sew a lot and quilt and things like that,” she said.
After graduating, Eippert went to beauty school and worked out of the family home “until the fourth child was born, and then I closed up my shop.”
Her husband, David, ran the Ford dealership in town. The couple will celebrate their 59th wedding anniversary in March. They have four children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, making for “a big family, a close family.”
The couple retired to Florida in 2000, and Eippert started taking art classes at a small college.
“I just got into it and I loved it,” she said.
They moved back to Upper Sandusky in 2014. Eippert now has a small, sunny studio in their home where she paints and sews.
Each image starts with a photo which she sketches onto watercolor paper. The painting process follows. The reproduction of her church, St. Paul Lutheran, took about three months to complete.
“It was the first really big building that I did, and it was so much detail and measuring and getting the perspective right and everything,” she said.
For the painting of First Presbyterian Church, Eippert sat out in front of the West Johnson Street building to get the color for the bricks just right.
“It’s the mixing the paint that’s really the hardest,” she said.
Some of her paintings, along with those done by other area artists, are offered for sale at Koehler Drug store in downtown Upper Sandusky.
Eippert has more recently been focusing on farm-themed paintings from pictures taken by another friend.
“And in December, I was into painting glass,” she said, explaining that she decorated goblets and glass Christmas ornaments for family members.
Eippert hopes to eventually complete paintings of all of the churches in Wyandot County. She and her husband figure there are 13 churches in Upper Sandusky alone.
It’s a big project, she admitted, but the finished product drives her to keep going.
“I have a big ego,” she laughed. “I’m proud of what I’ve done. And the ones that don’t turn out too good, I just don’t show to anybody.”