Seniors enjoy painting class

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 14, 2001


PHOTO: Ethel Mae Williams, front, and Barbara Dunn, both of Montz, paint blue skies on their canvases at the free senior citizen art class, which is offered to those over 60 every Wednesday afternoon at the New Sarpy Senior Citizen Center. (Staff Photo by Amy Szpara) NEW SARPY – Budding artists with brushes in hand and half-completed masterpieces on easels, worked this week on light blue skies, horizons and dark-colored waters. They set the backdrop for the lighthouse, cabin and swamp scenes that will take the forefront of their latest paintings. The New Sarpy Senior Citizen Center opens its doors to those over 60 on a daily basis, but on Wednesday afternoon those who enjoy putting color to canvas meet to create art that so far has included marsh mosaics, magnolias and sunsets. “It inspires you, soothes you and cools you,” said Barbara Dunn of Montz, who has been painting for a year. “This was my first time painting when I came here, and I just love it. It wakes up a talent in me that I never knew I had.” Working on the water and sky alone this week, the seniors put their work aside to let it dry before they add the rest of the scene next week. As local artist, Edie Corso, instructed the group, they followed her moves to create first the horizon line, then sketch in the items that would not have the blue color in them. They began the oil painting by applying the background and later they will add trees and, the front scenes by overlapping. The scene they were working on was of a lighthouse on Torrs Island in Bayou Des Allemands, a lighthouse that is no longer there. Taken from a postcard, Corso painted the scene on canvas and is now teaching it to her class. It will take them another two classes to complete the paintings. There are about 25 senior citizens signed up for the weekly art classes, but due to illnesses and summer vacations, the participants this week were sparse. This did not stop the ones who were there from having a good time, though. “These are my faithful ones,” said Corso. “Everyone here just relaxes and enjoys themselves.” A member of the Le Petit Art Guild and the St. Charles Art Guild, Corso began teaching the class after the Department of Parks and Recreation asked her to do it. “I thought it would be good to give back,” she said. Corso, who taught herself to paint about six years ago by watching Bob Ross on television and taking a few classes, is now selling her art locally when she is not teaching. Lois Eugene, center manager, said the seniors take the class for free but have to pay for all supplies. She has been taking the class herself for about a year, and she teaches a watercolor class at the Hahnville Center on Tuesday afternoons. “I’ve learned a lot from this class,” she said, proudly showing her art collection. Ethel Mae Williams of Montz is another of the “faithful ones.” She has just started painting this year. “I like to come and paint, and I enjoy doing it,” she said. “The first one I did was of trees and the moon and the lavender background. It’s real pretty, and I’m going to put that one up in my house. “That’s the one I want to keep. I said I’d give the others to my children, but that one’s for me.” Bonnie Clark of New Sarpy said she also enjoys the class. Having started painting a year ago, she said it relaxes her. “It was always something I wanted to do. We have such fun, and we all laugh at each other,” she said. Clark now has two of her paintings hanging in her home. From watching Bob Ross, she has done a couple of paintings outside of class. “I did one of the country church where I grew up. It looks just like it, because I can remember it,” she said, but she added her favorite is the magnolia she did a short while ago. It is one of the two paintings hanging in her house. Carolyn Duhe of Boutte said the hardest technique to master is getting the measurements right, putting everything in the right place. “It’s hard to center it,” Duhe said. “Edie is a great teacher, though. She has a lot of patience. She has really helped us a lot.” Clark and Duhe compared some of their earlier work to each other’s, noting that each had followed Corso’s directions, but each artist had added her own touches. In one swamp scene, Clark added lily pads and a trio of turtles resting on a log, whereas Duhe opted to make the sky lighter and added splashing ducks to the picture. Aside from the art classes, the center offers plenty of other activities for seniors, including a bowling league that starts Monday when they pick teams at 10 a.m. at the River Bend Lanes in LaPlace. For additional information about senior citizens’ activities call Eugene at 985-764-2412.