Pascal students find all roads can lead to art

September 21, 1994|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

There are, among the 50 pastels, watercolors and oils on the walls at the North County Library, a young girl in blue overalls sitting on a curb near a milk jug, flowers clutched in her hands; a field lush with wildflowers; a boat tied to pilings.

They are the work of art students from the Pascal Senior Center in Glen Burnie, some of whom are reviving an old hobby, others who are learning something new and still others who are looking for comfort.

Juanita Downs, 73, of Glen Burnie began taking the courses after her husband died. "I was grieving quite a bit at the time and it was a good outlet for me," said Mrs. Downs, who calls her boat scene "Safe Haven."

"It's in a little cove in Maryland," she said. "It looks like a safe retreat."

The art classes, taught by local artist Martha Lenhoff, are part of Anne Arundel Community College's continuing education program. There are 27 students in her classes at Pascal, some of whom have studied with Ms. Lenhoff for as long as 10 years.

Some of the artists work from greeting-card pictures or photographs clipped from magazines and newspapers. They make changes here and there to give birth to their own creations. In addition to painting, the class visits museums.

Ruth House, 67, of Glen Burnie started taking the classes six years ago after she retired from her job as a bookkeeper. "I never tried to draw or had any inclination I would try to get into this, really," she said.

Now, she has an oil painting of an owl perched on a sticky thistle in the midst of winter and a picture of roses, done in pastel, on display at the library.

"I drew the owl free-hand and worked with a sketch until we got it like we wanted it," said Mrs. House. "I did the whole background first and worked around the owl. After I got that situated, I worked on his head. I like to work from the top down."

Arnold LaFontaine, 70, of Glen Burnie used the same approach for his pastel of a basket of flowers hanging from a partially open door.

"I did it from the top down so it wouldn't get smudged," he said. "It's chalk, so it smudges."

Mr. LaFontaine, who grew up near the sea and ships in Puerto Rico, retired eight years ago from his job as an Internal Revenue Service agent. Maritime scenes are his favorites, but he enjoys change, he said. Thus, the basket of flowers and a watercolor of a bird perched on a branch.

"I call it a bird of a different feather because I'm not quite sure it's suppose to have green wings," said Mr. LaFontaine, who has studied off and on under Ms. Lenhoff for five years.

Ms. Lenhoff has taught art for 34 years. She has been with Anne Arundel Community College for 11 years. She has been getting showings for her Pascal students for about four years now.

"It's wonderful to watch them grow and develop," she said. "I always tell them to save your first painting because you can go back and see your progress later."

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