The watercolor paintings Dr. Robert Bratton poured his heart, soul and creativity into were the result of things that interested or inspired him.
Landscapes were a Bratton favorite, as were people, machinery, old circus wagons, animals and trains.
Sadly, Bratton, a longtime Carmel dentist who retired approximately 20 years ago, died Aug. 31 – five days before the death of his wife, Sally, and three days prior to what would have been the couple’s 60th wedding anniversary. Both were 83.
Bob Bratton’s works, however, live on through the Remembered Art Exhibit bearing his name inside McFarland Hall, on the third floor of Second Presbyterian Church, 7700 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis.
The exhibit, which runs through Jan. 27, is presented by Between Paper and Palette and the Second Presbyterian Fine Arts Advisory Team.
In all, 63 Bratton paintings are on display.
“My dad was always interested in art, ever since he was a kid,” said Eric Bratton, 52, who lives in Seattle, and is the younger of Bob and Sally’s two sons. “He used to build miniature model circus wagons, so when we were growing up, that’s what he primarily did when he got home from work.
“It wasn’t until after he retired that he really started doing the watercolors. My dad started taking classes and kept improving his art. He loved to experiment, so he was always trying to paint different things.”
Oldest son John, 54, resides in Fishers
The story of Bob and Sally Bratton is almost fairytale in nature.
As very young children growing up in Kokomo, their mothers met and befriended one another while pushing baby strollers in opposite directions.
Thus, Bob and Sally knew each other roughly 82 of their 83 years.
As a young married couple, they moved to Carmel in 1968, with Bob’s dental practice becoming a staple of downtown Carmel. The family lived in the same house for 54 years until a year ago, although starting this month, John Bratton and his family will reside there.
John graduated from Carmel High School in 1986, while Eric is part of the Class of 1988. John Bratton’s wife, Patricia (Robertson), is also a Carmel alum.
Mary Jane Keys, who had been a neighbor of the Brattons since 1972, is also part of Between Paper and Palette, which meets every Wednesday evening.
To call Bob Bratton merely an artist wouldn’t be doing his legacy justice, according to those who knew him best.
“Bob was just the kindest, gentlest, most humble man you could’ve met,” Keys said. “He won numerous awards for his art and never bragged about his own abilities. As a couple, Bob and Sally were just best friends who were devoted to each other.
“They were very active at Second Presbyterian Church, and she was his biggest supporter when she was in good health.”
On Dec.11, a reception was held at Second Presbyterian Church, with both John and Eric Bratton in attendance.
Having lived so far away the past decade or so, it gave Eric a greater appreciation for his father’s talents.
“An act of appreciation and love is what it is,” Eric said. “I had seen a lot of his work, but not all of it. To see it all in one space, it was just incredibly moving, just the breadth of it.”