Senior citizens who want to entertain their muse can take up painting at the Madison County Senior Citizen Center.
Former commercial artist Harry Croghan conducts classes for the beginner or the more experienced from 9 to 11 a.m. every Friday in the dining hall. Before the tables are set for dining, the cadre of artists, easels, canvases and boxes of paints and brushes in hand, sit down to create.
Croghan allows the artists to pursue whatever medium they may choose and does not discourage them from challenging themselves. For example, two women, who have not had a vast art experience, wanted to try portraiture. Croghan said painting a portrait is difficult, but he did not discourage them from trying it.
As the portraits of grandchildren — done from photographs — emerge, Croghan says he’s impressed with their progress.
Croghan said the variety of art media his students choose runs the gamut. At any give time, students can be working in oil paints, acrylic paints (water-based), watercolors, pen and ink, combined with watercolors.
Croghan said some artists will work in oil for one project, then move to another medium, such as acrylic “to allow the oil to dry.”
Subjects also cover a range, from portraits to landscapes to floral and animal studies.
Sharon Brackett used a palette knife to mix oil paint to make a shade the color of human complexion. She is at work painting a portrait of one of her three grandchildren, Eli.
“It’s what I’ve graduated to,” she said.
Earlier in her painting experience, she painted the exteriors of the homes of her children. They became Christmas gifts. The portrait of Eli will become the same.
Brackett, a retired home economics teacher, said she took up painting, “because I like to dabble.”
Dolly McConkey has been painting for about 18 months, she estimates. The Mansfield native retired from outside sales and likes the small-town atmosphere of London. She finds painting relaxing. She’s at work on a painting of her grandson.
Beginner Judy Lowe was working on an acrylic landscape.
“I wanted a hobby,” she said. “My thing is to enjoy it. I want to be decent at it and even if I don’t get decent at it, I have enjoyed it.”
Bob Schafer was working on a pen and ink drawing of a bass, which was on the cover of a fishing guide.
“I’ve always liked to draw,” he said.
In his training as an engineer, he learned mechanical drawing. Now he has to move away from mechanically drawn straight lines and become more freehand.
While Schafer enjoys the art, he also enjoys the social aspect of the class. He sits next to Roy Johnson, who is painting poppies onto some heavy card stock. When it’s done, it will be a greeting card for a sick person. Now 81, he’s been painting for 11 years.
“It’s been a good hobby,” he said.
Croghan also conducts senior citizen art classes at the Bluebird Retirement community on Thursday afternoons.
Dean Shipley can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617, on Facebook at Dean Shipley or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.
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