Nada Rudan is most relaxed when painting, a skill she discovered at the age of 87 and culminating this summer in an exhibition of her artwork — to mark her 100th birthday.
Bosnian native Rudan says she started to paint at a late age to keep herself busy and now finds the days are often too short to fit in everything she planned to do. Her daily routine is to paint for three hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, when she is at home.
“I don’t know what boredom means, I don’t know what depression means, I always find something to do,” she says.
Her independent spirit, good health and love of travel help.
After her exhibition in Sarajevo in late June, Rudan left for a month’s holiday on the Adriatic coast and then travelled on to Germany where her daughter lives.
“I am determined not to become a burden to my children,” the mother of two, grandmother of three and great-grandmother of four children told Reuters in her spacious home in central Sarajevo, surrounded by some of her estimated 200 paintings.
“And I am calm, I don’t want to be nervous, I always think first and then act,” says Rudan, who made a living as a dressmaker, keeping on “selected customers” until she was 85.
“I am still in a good health, my hands are stable, my eyes serve me well,” she says, adding that she rarely wears glasses when painting.
She speaks fondly about frequent travels with her children and grandchildren over the past decades. After her husband died in 1999, Rudan visited the United States, Central America and numerous European countries, and those journeys inspired many of her paintings, such as a volcano in Hawaii or pyramids in Mexico.
She visited Hollywood at the age of 95 and was allowed to enter the theatre where the Academy Awards ceremony takes place. “That was such a treat!”
Rudan likes to paint nature most of all and uses acrylic colours “because they don’t smell”.
She considers herself an “amateur” rather than a “true artist”, but is very proud that all her family, friends and neighbours came to her exhibition.
“You have to be positive in life and hope for the best, there will always be a solution,” says Rudan, who survived both World War Two and the 1992-1995 siege of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb forces.