Highland Lakes resident creates rock mural

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  • Spring skiing is featured on one side of the rock.

  • Ruth Preston also sculpted this nativity scene on display in her log home.

  • While black bears frolic in the stream.

  • PHOTOS BY JANET REDYKE Nels Nilsen and Ruth Preston pose in front of their seven- foot basement rock mural.

When Ruth Preston and Nels Nilsen were shopping for a new home in Highland Lakes, one rustic log cabin fit the bill perfectly for the aunt and nephew team.

“We were intrigued by the seven- foot boulder in the basement,” laughed 85-year-old Preston.

It seems that when the 1942 cabin was constructed, the rock became part of the wall and foundation instead of being blasted and removed. What would be a real estate nightmare for some, became an advantage for these new home owners. Preston simply painted a mural on the seven foot “rock canvas” and entitled it The Mountains in Spring.

A registered nurse until the age of 72, Preston is quite a dynamo. She loves Highland Lakes and its friendly residents, has taken art classes, dabbled in painting for 35 years, and has been working with clay since childhood. Since residing with her nephew Nels, she has been able to jet ski, horseback ride and kayak for the first time and is proud to be an octogenarian.

Back to the 7-foot basement boulder, Preston began her rock mural in early 2018 and completed it in the fall of 2018. Fascinated by nature, the mural features scenery of a brook, a waterfall, an eagle, a family of bears and of course, spring skiing and swimmers enjoying the steam, even a person going over the falls in a barrel.

“Aunt Ruthie keeps adding things every time she thinks of something,” said Nilsen.

The log home offers a gorgeous view of Highland Lakes’ Main Lake.

“My aunt is always staring at the lake and is probably making future plans on how to paint it,” smiled Nilsen.

Preston did admit to such a futuristic plan when she figures out the best way to capture the lake’s shimmering patterns.


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