It's Never Too Late to Learn
Life-long learners from the Rocky River Senior Center oil painting class under my direction have spent the past year learning the basic skills of oil painting. All started as novice oil painters last March. They culminated their year-long lessons by studying and painting works of art by "Master Artists" of the past.
We took a field trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art's show "Painting the Secret Garden: Monet to Matisse" to find inspiration. After visiting the exhibit as a class, many students returned several times to study the painting they had chosen to reproduce. They turned their focus to how the Master Artists used paint, color and brush strokes to communicate their interpretations of the garden. And who says you can't learn from your elders?
Student artist Laurel Cantleberry chose to study and paint a Van Gogh because it encouraged her to try thick paint and bold colors. "I learned a lot about dramatic lighting from studying Van Gogh's work," she shared. Leo Lightner, an 87-year-old first time painter, enjoyed returning to the museum several times to study his chosen painting. He said the multiple visits "enhanced my ability to see the details in the artwork." This enabled him to “fine tune” his painting.
Marilyn Sherako, who chose John Singer Sargent's "Poppies" to study and paint, felt that the exercise encouraged her to break away from small detailed painting and adopt a much bolder style. Curiosity tweaked, Marilyn took the experience one step further by doing research on Sargent’s life and other works.
I am so very proud of the work my students have accomplished. I look forward to watching their progress in the future. Remember it is never too late to learn new skills to express your creativity - at any age.
Gail Felix M.A. is an artist and arts educator. She teaches various art classes at the Rocky River Senior Center.