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Art class: painting with friends
by Jenniffer Wardell
Jan 30, 2008 | 627 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BOUNTIFUL -- For many of the people setting up easels in the basement work room of the Bountiful/Davis Art Center (BDAC) Tuesday night, it's impossible to remember when they considered the people surrounding them to be strangers. "We're all friends here -- it's like a club," said Maryanne Nybo, one of the students in the landscape oil painting class that was currently gathering. Taught by Diane Turner, the class is the most popular one on BDAC's winter schedule. "Even though the class starts at 7 p.m., sometimes I'll come as early as 4:30 just to paint and hang out with whoever's there." Turner, who has taught the class more than 20 years and also offers the class during BDAC's spring and fall class schedules, said that about 75 percent of the class are repeat students who sign up season after season. "We're just like a little family," said Turner. Sometimes, the class will even order out for pizza together. "In class the other night, we were talking about how the class can be like therapy for a few hours. It's a hard but pleasurable way to run away from life for a little while."

The class is considered to be advanced, meaning that students have a firm enough grasp of the basics to work mostly on their own. Still, Turner circulates among the groups of easels, offering gentle instruction and encouragement relevant to each individual painter.

"She's a very gentle person," said Nybo. "She sells her paintings for quite a bit of money, but she knows us well enough to guide us where we need to go next, not what she necessarily wants."

Another thing Turner is careful to pass on is patience, which is sometimes a challenge in the face of hour-long art shows on PBS that show people how to finish a painting in under 60 minutes.

"Some of them want to finish a painting in one night like Bob Ross," said Turner. "Instead, I try to teach them the basics so they can go out and paint on their own without someone else telling them what to do."

Instruction also sometimes comes from a painter's fellow classmates, who will often circle the room during breaks and pass on a little friendly artistic advice when the situation calls for it.

"Sometimes someone will come up and say 'You need to fix the angle on that tree,'" said Nybo. "We all just learn from each other."

Mostly, though, the students simply share in one another's lives as they bond over paints and canvases. Names and life stories are remembered, such as that of the class's oldest member, 93-year-old Farmington resident Allene Lonard, and familiar faces are missed when they suddenly don't appear.

"One of the men in our class died a few months ago," said Turner. "He left such a huge hole."

"He was so funny," said Nybo. "He'd tell jokes and just paint his own thing."

Still, the class continues on, painting and sharing in one another's company.

"The thing about painting is that it never comes to the end," said Turner. "You're always hoping that the next one will be your masterpiece."

If nothing else, it will give you an excuse to come back to class.
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