Spring may be just around the corner, but artists have been in full bloom all winter at the Austintown Senior Center's art classes. From seasoned artists to first timers, the class has grown to 18 men and women who are pursuing their passions.
"I retired and needed something to do," said Senior Center member Carole Rodgers of Austintown. "Learning to paint was one of the items on my bucket list."
Rodgers, like the other 17 members of the Senior Center art class, has a passion for art, but during her working and family life had set that passion aside. Now retired, class members are free to resume the pursuit of artistic perfection.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Austintown seniors Carol Allen and Mary DeLucia have been part of the Senior Center’s art classes for two years now. They said when they first started taking art lessons there were only a handful in the class.
Heading the art classes is Susan Jacobs of Cortland. She is the director of Community Artworks, a program geared to support local artists and give them a venue in which to participate and display their work. Jacobs has held the classes for several years at the Senior Center on Fifth Avenue in Youngstown.
"When I heard the Austintown Senior Center was opening, I thought it would be a good place to expand the program," she said.
When she started two years ago, there were only six signed up.
Each of Jacobs' senior students is doing remarkable work as they create their own works. Tim Wagner of Youngstown, an associate member of the Austintown Senior Center, said Jacobs has a unique approach to teaching art.
"She has a remarkable technique of teaching," he said. "She shows us how to break down a picture by separating colors."
Wagner is currently working on his second painting, a portrait of Our Lady of Sorrows. He plans on donating the finished piece to his parish of the same name.
Wagner isn't the only associate member in the class. Mary Lou Martin from Cortland, also obtained an associate membership at the Austintown Senior Center, just to take the free art class.
"I heard about this through the Trumbull Art Gallery," she said. "Sue [Jacobs] taught art to my kids when they attended Matthews High School. When I heard she was teaching this course, I got a membership so I could attend and learn new skills."
Jacobs said there is room for more in her classes. Any senior who is a member of the Austintown Senior Center can take the classes. There is no fee, and artists only have to obtain their own paints and supplies and attend the classes where they will get the knowledge of how to paint on canvas.
"What they are doing in truly incredible," said Senior Center director Jim Henshaw. "It is amazing how some have never painted before, yet they make such masterpieces."