KINGSTON, R.I. — Winter doldrums can be an opportunity in South County Art Association’s many and varied classes for beginners to masters wanting to develop the talents of their artist within.
“We have art experiences for people who really want the opportunity to explore some creativity, but are shy about it. We encourage them. This is the place for them,” said Kathleen Carland, SCAA executive director.
SCAA’s variety of mixed media art classes draw the inner artist to re-discover old talents, to see possibility in unknown skills and to find new experiences through experimentation and involvement in classes.
Located at 2587 Kingstown Road in the heart of quaint Kingston village, the association’s offerings ranger from painting, printmaking and sculpture to pottery, drawing and photography.
For instance, in the sculpture category is stone carving. The thought brings flash backs of scenes in the 1960s television cartoon show, “The Flintstones,” of Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone in this romanticized Stone Age having fun making stone figures.
In this real-life art class, though, the Wynnes, Alan, 69, and Patty, 63, of Narragansett, teach students to carve images with hammers and chisels from limestone and marble.
“Over the years I really learned to love it and my wife also was also becoming proficient in stone carving, so we started teaching the class,” said Alan Wynne, who with his wife, have been carving in certain stone mediums for nearly 20 years.
“I tend to carve whatever my mood is for the particular stone. It’s not like I’m always doing figurative work or abstract. It’s a little of whatever my feeling is,” he said.
His wife, Patty, added, “We do a lot of outdoor pieces and usually we do those in granite. In our yard we have like a sculpture garden. It’s really whatever we feel like. I carved a harp and actually put strings in it.”
At the SCAA in the last 15 years they have taught the art of stone crafting to more than 40 interested students.
Jen Ferry, SCAA assistant director, called the stone carving a unique offering.
“I don’t know if you can find another stone-carving class around here. It’s offered every session, but it’s not like it’s a popular medium,” she said about the handful of people who take that three-hour course each time it is available.
There is a stone crafting studio, as well as others including pottery and printmaking, in SCAA’s two historical colonial buildings. The organization also has its offices there, gallery and classrooms.
This 93-year-old nonprofit arts organization has been housed in these buildings since its founding. Several times a year it sponsors a variety of courses aiming to help foster and develop artistic talents as well as promote the arts.
For instance, a selection of courses in the winter session includes Painting - Inspire Your Heart, with Art Event with Michaele Gauthier; Simply Still with Trish Hurley; Watercolors with Pam with Pam Santos; Pet and Animal Portrait Painting with Beth Drainville.
Printmaking - Linocut Printing Workshop with Jill Heffernan; Monotype Winter Landscapes, Icy Hues with Casey Weisbust. Pottery - Pottery I with Jason Fong and Pottery II with Lee Segal; Hand-building Mugs with Christine Herron and Lamp Making Workshop with Todd Kenney.
Mixed Media - Mixed Media Art Journaling with Renee Syed; Encaustic Workshop with Taleen Batalian; and Abstract Wood Art Workshop with Lynne Moulton.
Drawing - Making Your Mark With Lisa Adams; Life Drawing I & II with Leigh and Peter Riesenfeld. Photography - Honing Your Vision Through Portfolio Development as well as Editing Your Images in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, all with Cindy Wilson
Class fees range from $160 for five weeks at three hours per session to $250 for eight weeks at three hours a session, said Ferry. About 250 to 300 people per year attend classes and many people come multiple times.
An SCAA open house on March 7, from 10 a.m. to 1p.m., will have class demonstrations and information about the upcoming spring session. All are welcome and beginners are encouraged to come and sign up. SCAA prides itself in providing a safe, friendly atmosphere where anyone can freely express themselves through art, Ferry said.
“I think a lot of people like to take classes because it forces them to do it. For a class, they are going to have to come and do art,” rather than wait for delayed inspiration at home, said SCAA Assistant Director Ferry.
Cindy Opaluch, of Wakefield, is one artist who has been taking classes since 2004 at SCAA.
“It is a great stress reliver with everything going on in the world. Art is one of the best ways to take a break from it and just relax and pray and just enjoy yourself,” she said.
Joanne Morrissey, of Foster, who has taken classes since 2006, agreed.
“A lot of baby boomers are now retiring and looking for something to do, maybe like always wanting to paint. That’s how I was,” she said.
Opaluch has focused on pottery and developed her skills in that medium.
“It’s amazing to take a lump of clay and then it turns into something you can hold, whether it be a platter or something decorative. It’s just magical,” she said, warning that artists need to make time for this work.
“But it’s also making sure I carve out space, time, to do art work because it’s so easy to get busy and you don’t do it, “ she said, noting that taking a course helps her engage in the craft.
With the many courses come a diverse group of artists who help to make valuable the time people set aside, Ferry said.
“Artists want to learn from other artists. They want to learn different processes. Each artist has a different process. We’re all interested in what other people are doing,” she said.
Learning about that can be hard because many artists have studios in their homes and “we don’t get to see what they’re doing or how they’re doing it,” Ferry noted. “It gets them (the experienced artists) out of the studio, too, so they can share what they do.”
However, the classes do more than bring beginner or intermediate artist together with the experienced master.
“I think a lot of people take classes because it’s not just learning from an instructor, it’s also just learning from each other, “ Ferry said.
There’s a togetherness they all feel, she added. “I think it is also a lot about building a community. It is about learning from each other.”
Full class descriptions can be found at southcountyart.org and sign-ups for classes can be done by calling (401) 783-2195 or visiting the SCAA offices at 2587 Kingstown Road, Kingston, Wednesdays through Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.