Last updated: August 27. 2014 4:31PM - 128 Views
By Harry Croghan Contributing Columnist

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There is much to be learned by watching a new painter first explore a few colors and then their canvas. They may be used to a pen or pencil but a small brush, that’s another matter. It is an entirely new world for them. I see both anxiety and pleasure on their faces as they start their first painting.

Most of the people I am referring to are the new painters in my art class at the Madison County Senior Citizen Center on Friday morning from 9 to 11 a.m. It is a time of watching the demonstrations and trying new things or reacquainting themselves with what they knew as a child. But marriage, family and just life have made a 30 or 40 year gap between then and now.

I am asked this question a lot: Will I be able to catch up to where I was when I quit? With a bit of practice and time, a definite yes. I have had several members of that class do just that. As for the complete beginner, well, it’s a fun time to explore something entirely new.

The class is a very supportive group of people all at different levels of painting from just starting to professionals but the best thing about this group of individuals is that all of them are very helpful to any newcomers. I think that many of my best artists are really there for the social interaction.

Taking on art as a new facet of your life is a jump into the unknown and we all understand that and no matter the artistic level we all remember that time in our lives. In this class there is no competition only cooperation and understanding. We share our ups and downs in art and how we worked through the harder times.

Starting is relatively easy and we start out by painting simple scenes because they are the easiest to paint and make changes on. You will set your own goals. I often find starting artists jumping into subject matter beyond their known capability only to be surprised as their capabilities jumps forward to meet their challenge. Besides that, what I am there for is to help illustrate, demonstrate and pull you along as you progress.

Usually when a student runs into difficulty, I may suggest several ways of resolving the problem and they usually pick the one they want to use or come up with their own solution and I will help them through the process. Often I will let them work through the problems they encounter and only offer advice when asked. You will find it a very easy atmosphere to work in. Any real pushing of boundaries you will most likely be doing to yourself. I may warn you about what challenges you will face then help you through them.

A new painter helps me renew my artistic spirit. Their enthusiasm becomes mine and the energy from the learning process feeds us both. Art is never for me a one-sided endeavor. It is very much a time of give and take.

I retired from my commercial art business of 40 years specifically so I could teach art and share the wonderful experience of creating art at as many levels as I possibly can. I have taught classes from preschoolers through senior citizens and everything between. I have worked with the physically and mentally challenged and with prisoners in our institutions. I feel I have always received more from the experiences than I was able to give.

I have been privileged to write about art and its many facets, ups, downs and all the steps between. I want to share the art experience of creating with as many people as possible. I have written a weekly article on art and related subjects for nine years now. Thankfully the ideas have kept on coming so I keep on sharing my ramblings with as many who will take the time to read them.

Harry Croghan is an artist, photographer, writer and teacher. He can be reached at (740) 852-4906 or by e-mail at hrcroghan@icloud.com.

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