Group of artists continues to find more room at the easel

Howard Neighbors

April 07, 2006|By JANET GILBERT

Most people would not associate the words creative and competitive. Generally speaking, the development of a work of art is primarily the former. The showing of it, however, is often the latter -- and it can be a ruthless, cutthroat experience.

The fact is, no one wants to give up his or her space, whether it is framed on a wall, spotlighted on a stage or printed on the page.

With a certain amount of life experience, however, comes a perspective that is considerably more generous, even selfless. Art benefits everyone, and there always is room for more.

This is the philosophy behind Painting Together Artists, a group created by Grey Rock resident and artist Carole Ann Zink.

"I want company, and I want to have fun," said Zink.

Zink started the group, which meets twice weekly at Ellicott City Senior Center, in 2003. The group has grown to more than 25 members and has a branch at the nearby Bain Center. There are no fees, except for the $1 a month to cover coffee and refreshments.

"We learn from each other," said Zink, 65. "I would call it a self-help group."

Zink is an accomplished artist who works primarily in watercolor and pen and ink. She attended Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School, and when she was a teenager, her mother recognized her talent and enrolled her in private art lessons, as well as Saturday classes at Maryland Institute College of Art.

"I use everything I learned there," said Zink.

Zink's first job out of high school was in the drafting department of what was then Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone. She later took jobs as a technical illustrator at engineering and manufacturing firms in the area.

When she married and started a family, Zink would have liked to paint, but there was no room for a studio. "They had every room in the house," she said, speaking of her five children.

Still, she couldn't help but pick up a sketchbook one day and begin drawing. "That just lit the fire," she said.

Zink tried to do oil painting in her home when her children went to bed, but the fumes nauseated her. Then she started working in watercolor, rediscovering the joy of pen-and-ink and pencil sketches. While attending a reception at a home in her neighborhood, Zink struck up a conversation with the hostess, a fellow artist. They began talking about how they each had friends who wanted to paint but did not have adequate studio space.

Zink made a few phone calls and was thrilled when Karena Krumhansl, assistant director at Ellicott City Senior Center, said she could have a room and asked for the group's name.

Zink came up with Painting Together Artists and had her artist friends meet regularly at the center with a purpose: to prepare to show and sell their art. Soon, the program began attracting all sorts of Howard County artists. Some have been painting all of their lives, or worked in the field as graphic artists or art directors for advertising agencies. Others pursued completely unrelated vocations but always wanted to paint.

"It's in you," Zink said, of the desire to create art. Painting Together Artists may come from all walks of life, but what they have in common is the sense that it is time not only to create, but to have fun.

Zink describes the atmosphere as positive -- there is a willingness to explore other ways to approach art, as well as a sharing of techniques. "I have learned more from this group and from their critiquing," said Zink.

"Most of the art guilds are very competitive," she said. Often, she has seen artists leave feeling demoralized after harsh critiques. "Who learns out of crying?" Zink asked.

"It can be really heartbreaking when you get rejected from a show," Zink said, "and yet it may not necessarily have to do with the quality of the painting. It may have more to do with the person jurying the show. It's very subjective."

Zink has taken it upon herself to organize and set up shows for the Painting Together Artists all over Maryland. She donates her time and acts as the group's agent; calling venues, assigning artists, helping to create the artists' biographies and promoting the shows. This month and next, the artists' work will be displayed at the state capitol in Annapolis. The group donates paintings to raise funds for Ellicott City Senior Center through occasional silent auctions.

"It's a win-win partnership," said Zink, of the Painting Together Artists' relationship with the center.

Though art appreciation may be subjective, there is one thing that Zink is adamant about: the professional framing of the work.

"Presentation will sell a painting," she said. Zink should know -- she has sold more than 100 paintings to private collectors and commercial establishments. In May 2004, she received a Governor's Citation and was picked as the artist from Howard County to have one of her works exhibited in the permanent collection at the Maryland Department of Aging.

Recently, Zink has done watercolors of the old barns around Grey Rock -- barns that likely willdisappear with development. Her work evokes a range of emotions, from whimsy to nostalgia.

"I just have to draw," she said.

Neighbors

Is someone in your neighborhood worth writing about? Is there an event that everyone in Howard County should be aware of?

If there is, Janet Gilbert, our new neighbors reporter, wants to know about it. Janet brings a wealth of writing experience and knowledge of Howard County to her position.

E-mail Janet at janetgilbertsun@verizon.net, or call 410-313-8276.

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