Local decorative painter helps others learn the art she loves NORTH -- Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

NEIGHBORS

August 11, 1993|By PAT BRODOWSKI

Carla Gray, decorative painter, is happiest with a brush in hand. What she paints has function: bowls, place mats, jewelry boxes. How she paints is traditional, as folk artists do around the world, self-taught and willing to teach others.

She and her brush have traveled around the world -- through the study of indigenous methods of folk painting. Each country has its own look that skillful, self-taught painters continue to produce.

Japanning is one style from the Orient. With careful labor, she gives red or black lacquered boxes a design of blossoms, waves and silk-robed men in delicate lines of bronze powder.

Chinoiserie is colorful brush painting in a folksy style interpreting Chinese patterns seen in textiles, porcelain and lacquer items. It's really a European style reflecting romantic ideas of the Far East and has developed since the days of Marco Polo.

Traditional Norwegian folk painting, or "rosemaling," depends upon brushwork. She paints stylized florals, leaves and vines in rich color over a deep blue, red or green background.

Country French painting has a pastel look, with fanciful flowers and scrollwork. Tole painting is American, derived from brush-stroke painting of fruits and leaves. It was brought to its highest form by the Pennsylvania Dutch, charming for its simplicity in image and color.

Folk artists are generally home-schooled by a neighbor. In turn, they teach others.

"There's a kind of history to it," she says, stemming from the desire to reproduce the extraordinary with minimal means.

"Peasants in every country have gone into homes of rich people. They went back home and, with whatever materials they had, they tried to imitate what they'd seen. That's pretty much the origin of most folk art painting."

When Mrs. Gray began exploring folk techniques 16 years ago, she briefly took lessons from another painter. Soon she acquired students willing to join her experimentation.

As her schedule permits, she continues to teach. Some of her students this summer are 4 and 5 years old. Others are teen-agers, mothers, seniors. Some students have been with her for five years, happy to continue in her Hampstead atelier.

Decorative painting is popular, perhaps because the finished piece is useful and attractive. "I want to know exactly what it is that I paint, and I don't want it to be unpleasant," says Mrs. Gray.

She teaches using a brand of acrylic paint that she recently helped develop. Students learn brush control and color mixing.

"They are happiest when using their own colors," she says. "Children have definite ideas about color preference and have very good feelings about what they do. That's why I like to teach kids.

"The kids will sit there and say 'Oh, isn't mine the best?' It's really refreshing to see . . . with a little encouragement, all that self-confidence is there."

Information: Tomorrow's Treasures 239-6510.

*

"I run because I like the feeling of speed you get," says William Lerp of Manchester.

He was a well-known runner at North Carroll High School. Before graduating a year ago, he won two Carroll County championships, for the 100-meter and 200-meter sprint. "I took home two big old gold medals for that," he laughs.

A week ago, he took home another medal. He was invited to the Maryland State Games, an amateur competition for athletes 19 through 25, held July 31 at Towson State University.

William Lerp sprinted 100 meters. From a field of 12 sprinters, he took home the bronze medal.

He keeps in shape by daily workouts at the North Carroll High track. "I jog about three miles and then practice sprinting and work on sprinting technique," he said. "Hopefully, one day I'll make professional college running. You can go into college running and from there on, people call you to run for them."

In the past year, he had joined the Marines and then was discharged, for asthma.

"It is pretty weird," he said. "I went to boot camp, made it rTC through two months, then had an asthma attack while we were doing a close-order rifle drill. I've been running most of my life. Having an asthma attack is weird."

He's been known as fast on his feet since third grade.

"Most of the kids I ran track with have been friends since that time," he said. Friends chose a misnomer derived from "Lerp" for his nickname: "People on the team called me 'Slurpy.'

"You can't look at a person and tell how fast they'll be," he says. "You ask around about people's time. Supposedly [in a race] you just keep eyes on the finish line. If you look around, you'll break concentration and break stride. Every once in a while, you'll see someone from the corner of your eye. Then you have to push harder."

*

Two picnics are on the calendar for friends of the North Carroll Senior Center in Greenmount.

"We're going to recognize our volunteers," said Dorothy Houff, site manager. "I guess we have about 35. . . . We decided to have a pizza party to show our appreciation for all their hard work."

The pizzas will be cut at 4 p.m. Aug. 20.

Three days later, the center will have its third annual picnic at Camp Hashawha Environmental Center near Bachman Valley.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 23, a buffet luncheon will be served.

More than 60 people have signed up.

For information, call the center at 239-6400.

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