rom watercolorists to weavers, many talented artists live at Splendido, an all-inclusive community in Oro Valley for those 55 and better. Some are professionals, others, like Ellie Cannan, discovered a creative passion later in life. 


From A-Lines to Art Quilts

Ellie was one of three girls in her family, and explains, “When I was growing up, my mother, sisters, and I all sewed our own clothing. I didn’t enjoy garment sewing—there’s not enough innovation. So I thought that when I retired, I would try art quilting.”


After a successful career spent working for Chevron, she did just that. “We moved to Montana after I retired and it was wonderful to meet women who had different ideas about how to work with fabric, with thread, and with beading,” says Ellie. “Now I primarily do thread painting and art quilts that have dimensions—I do a lot of whimsical pieces.”


“What I like about art quilting is that if I make a mistake, I can think about how to incorporate it into the piece,” she says.


Creativity Takes Wing

Ellie’s creativity has led her to try different materials and styles of fiber arts. Most recently, she applied her imagination to a community-wide art project. Splendido put out an announcement encouraging residents to create unique feathers. They provided a template of a feather and asked people to color or decorate it and turn it in.


The staff were amazed at the response—they had collected 185 after a month, and the feathers keep coming. Eventually, the staff will use the feathers to build a giant pair of wings for photo opportunities. 


Ellie jumped into the feather project with gusto: “I used thread-painting on fabric for one, then used fabric for a couple more, then painted a couple, and even made two out of actual feathers,” she says. “It felt so good!”


Weaving a Community

Ellie says she loves living at Splendido: “It’s a lovely place. I like the intellectual activities, and there’s a wonderful art studio.” Since moving to the community in May 2017, she partnered with another resident to start a formal group of Splendido artists and art appreciators. “Each of us is doing something that’s not at all like anyone else, but we encourage each other,” explains Ellie. 


Whether working on one of her whimsical ideas or contributing colorful creations to a group project, Ellie is tapping into a seemingly endless source of creativity—making her the very picture of Aging Well. 

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