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Senior art show set for Dec. 4

On a typical fall weekday afternoon, local senior ladies might be catching up on the latest intrigues of their favorite soaps or shaking their heads in amazement over the crazy cast of characters inhabiting the average talk show these days.

For the active group of ladies attending the Camellia Senior Center on Bolling Street in Greenville,however, Tuesday afternoon means a weekly exploration into the joys of art through lessons in acrylic painting on canvas.

Each Tuesday afternoon, the ladies

Sister Cathleen Stack, Betty Findley, Liz Johnston, Jonnie Pouncey, Bobbie Gillem, Vivian Killingsworth, Willadean Autrey, Tootsie Gibson and Gladys Gregory

study painting in the center's rec' room during its temporary weekly transformation into an art studio. The budding artists are assisted by their enthusiastic, good-humored instructor, award-winning local artist Shirley Roberson, who started the classes at the center last August.

That wasn't a moment too soon, according to art student Findley. "I'd been begging Shirley for years to teach a class for us

we finally broke him down. I'm so glad he's doing this, he's so good at it…. I have a lot of fun working with the acrylic paints," Findley notes.

Sister Cathleen, a Catholic nun hailing from St Louis, Mo., finds herself constantly on the go with various volunteer opportunities in Pine Apple, Selma and the Greenville area.

Still, she always works her schedule around the class.

"Painting is something I always wanted to do as a young person, but never got the chance. Now I do

it's the only real recreation I have and I love it," she adds with a gentle smile.

Jonnie Pouncey puts a few finishing touches to her latest creation. "Yes, I do enjoy it. I just DON'T want to be one of those old ladies who sits shut up in the house all day, day after day…and you know there's folks out there just like that," remarks Pouncey.

Unlike most of the class members, Liz Johnston had previous experience as a painter.

"Going from oils to acrylics, I found the speed time in drying was so different, and it was an adjustment. But I've learned to love acrylics too. Shirley's a great teacher and I just have a great time in this class

we all have fun," Johnston laughs as she waves a brush in the air.

Socializing is definitely something these novice artists enjoy along with perfecting their techniques for color mixing, shading, washes, lines, darks and lights. The ladies use these proper painterly' tricks in various combinations to create, on canvas, striking sea and landscapes, still lifes and other traditional subject matter.

Are they happy with fledgling masterpieces? Well, yes and no.

"When we feel good about the results, we get them matted and framed and hang them in our homes or give them as gifts…however, a few end up with a permanent view of the dust bunnies under the bed," quipped one of the students.

If music soothes the savage beast, then presence in Roberson's art class certainly seems to calm some frazzled nerves (and provide a lovely, uplifting calorie and drug-free' escape from everyday cares).

"Well, I thoroughly enjoy it…the class is my outlet and I look forward to coming every week…I confess I enjoy carrying-on' like we do around here," Bobbie Gillem says with a definite twinkle in her eyes.

Vivian Killingsworth feels much the same way, "Oh, my, this is therapy for me….I just get involved in my work,tuned in…I forget about my troubles. It's wonderful," she smiles.

Willadean Autrey is the new kid' in the art class. "I've only recently joined the group so I still have a lot to learn. I'm having fun. I'm retired now and I wanted to find something fun and relaxing to do just for me, I guess," Autrey explains.

Roberson praises his budding artists for how far they've come in their year and a half since the class started. "Very few had any art training or experience and some were sure they couldn't do it

but they were willing to try and they have done great," the proud teacher says.

Roberson himself became involved in art several years ago after watching artists demonstrate their work on TV.

His own earliest painting projects looked, Roberson chuckles, "like grade school stuff, pretty bad."

Roberson persisted and eventually discovered a Montgomery-based painting instructor, Dot Robinson.

"She [Dot] made all the difference in my progress as a painter.

I've made gains as a self-taught artist, also, but I can't fail to emphasize how much her guidance has helped, and still helps, over the years," Roberson states.

Come next Tuesday, December 4, Shirley Roberson hopes his talented teacher will be able to make a special trip down to the Senior Center. The ladies of Mr. Roberson's painting class will be presenting their very first all-student art show at the Camellia Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day. The public is encouraged to turn out and view the artistic fruits of their labor.

"There will be plenty of refreshments and lots of great art, so everyone who can, please swing by to visit, browse and eat with us," remarks Roberson.

The Camellia Senior Center is located on Bolling Street across from the Chamber's Depot offices. For more information, call the center at 382-5670.