Learning a lifelong pleasure
Everybody has a creative side and, with the right guidance, it doesn’t take long for that creative side to flourish. You can see proof of this at the Haskell Library throughout the month of June with an exhibition by three novice painters from
Stanstead: Beryl Joyce, Lorraine Markwell and Jane Webb.
I visited with the three women earlier this month as they finished up some of their pieces at the home of their instructor, mixed media artist Jean Harris. Both Jane and Beryl have been learning how to paint from Jean for about three years while Lorraine has been at it for only one year. All three had never painted before Jean enticed them to give it a try.
“We start by painting still lifes and then we move on to composite paintings. It takes a while to have the confidence to do abstract painting. Eventually people paint from their head and their heart, but it takes time,” commented Jean.
The three women are a committed group, meeting once a week at Jean’s home, in Stanstead, where they work steadily for hours. “They learn some tricks of the trade, like to notice where the light is coming from; they learn that from painting the still lifes,” said Jean.
“A friend of mine was painting with Jean and asked me to try it. I was hesitant at first, my son was ill in the hospital. It took me about a year to really get into it,” said Jane as she worked on a painting of a hippopotamus for her daughter. A painting of a bright red fire-truck was waiting to be completed, a request from her son. Those paintings will, along with many others, one day be family heirlooms. “I find that painting is a nice distraction. It’s been a wonderful experience meeting Jean; she gives us a little idea and steers us in the right direction. And now I’m ready for bigger canvasses. I would have never said that a year ago!”
“I had no experience at all when Jean asked if I would like to try it. Now I find painting fantastic, enjoyable and there is always something to do,” commented Beryl who was hard to pull away from a complicated mandala that she was working on. “Beryl has done a number of interesting pieces,” mentioned Jean. “Everything about painting has surprised me. I never thought I could do it,” admitted Beryl.
“I find that painting is a stress outlet, it’s challenging, and it is bringing out a creative side that I didn’t know I had. Coming here and learning about art from Jean, it makes us see everything differently. Now the details of things jump out at you,” commented Lorraine who was working on a painting featuring one of her favourite subjects: hummingbirds. “Part of painting is developing a keen eye, like seeing the different shapes and colours in trees. Painting is a life-long skill that you can do alone or in a group. And once you’ve got it, you’ve got it forever,” explained the instructor. “It’s been an eye-opening experience,” continued Lorraine. “I wish I had more time to work on it. My grandchildren are impressed and now they are all trying to paint!”
And now, thanks to the policy of the Haskell Free Library to showcase local artistic talent throughout the year in its Reading Room, these three budding artists will be able to exhibit the best of their work. “They all chose what they wanted to put in to the exhibit. Now we just have to measure out the walls in the Reading Room and draw straws for the prime spots!” Mrs. Harris mentioned.
The artists are holding the vernissage for their month-long exhibition at the Haskell Library on June 2nd, from 10:30 to noon. “I booked the space at the Haskell a year ago, thinking I would put on an exhibition. But my students have enough work and their work is good enough,” said Jean with a touch of pride.
Jean Harris (left) has been helping (l. to r.) Lorraine Markwell, Beryl Joyce and Jane Webb learn to paint with impressive results that will be on display at the Haskell in June.