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70 & Sunny: Two San Diegans, Decades Apart, Talk About a Love for Painting

Bess lives in Hillcrest, and Princess is a fourth grader
Nate Hoffman

By Erica Nichols

Bess Refn

70, Retired Occupational Therapist, Hillcrest

How do you like living in Hillcrest?

When I moved from North County, I wanted to live in a walkable neighborhood. I love going to Bread and Cie, sitting outdoors, and watching people go by.

Do you miss working?

I worked in the psychiatric unit for 41 years. I do miss the patients, but I have been able to pursue some of my other interests—I’m a docent at the San Diego Museum of Art and just started volunteering at the House of Denmark in Balboa Park.

What’s the best part of volunteering?

I like giving value to immigrants. I feel privileged to share my history and be a part of something that represents different countries.

Favorite way to spend time outside?

My weekly outdoor painting group has helped me see parts of San Diego I wouldn’t know about otherwise. I love painting the backcountry and the ocean at Sunset Cliffs.

Princess Ito

9, Fourth Grader, City Heights

How would you describe yourself?

Smart and talented.

Favorite way to spend time outside?

I love swimming! But I wouldn’t want to go to the Olympics or anything. I don’t like to compete. I can hold my breath for two minutes underwater, though. I also went to the zoo with my class the other day.

Which zoo animals did you like?

I don’t really have favorite animals, but the seals were really smelly.

What do you like to do when you’re not swimming?

Art is important to me. My project was accepted into Dreamscapes at the Museum of Photographic Arts. I used milk and bright acrylic paints to make different patterns—I saw it on YouTube.

What’s your creative process?

I think of what colors match and how it might end up. This time all the colors turned black when I mixed them, but it turned out cool.

Bess (left) and Princess

Nate Hoffman

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