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  • Writer's pictureElaine Berberich

Art touches your heart and soul


Original members of group were Janet Hikes, Liz Allen, and Brenda Singh

If you walk into the Activities Center on Thursday morning, you will hear women's contagious laughter and chatter. Upon closer examination, they can be found engaged in painting as well.


Janet Hikes started the watercolor painting group about a year ago. Janet moved here from Gettysburg, Pa. She was active in the arts community there; when she moved here, she started looking for other artists. By participating in Community Art Market, she found many people who liked to paint. Janet, previously a school social worker and counselor, likes to paint because it allows her to look at the world more closely and pay attention to the beauty around us. Janet was recently accepted into the Community Artists Gallery and Studios (CAGS) in downtown New Bern for her watercolors and acrylics. Several painters in this group are members of CAGS, where their work is displayed.


The Pointe restaurant has recently begun to feature the work of local artists, including many from this group.

As you observe the group, you hear the language of art, including terms like shadowing, values, and warm and cool temperatures. Veteran painters help each other and offer suggestions to those just getting started. The warmth and welcome feeling in the group are what stand out, leading to the free expression of art. Walking around the room, it is evident that every interpretation is different, even though artists often paint the same display.


New painter Pam Gaskill pointed out that "Every artist has her or his style, and you can often identify which artist has painted which painting." Everyone brings their own art equipment acquired through art stores in town and online, although sharing is also an integral part of the classes.


Experienced painter Deb Burrington pointed out that the stable value in art is composition and design. She said that this concept applies to art in everyday life, such as knowing how to design rooms in a home. Before moving here, Deb owned a painting and frame business in Vermont. Painting has always been a part of her life since childhood; her mother was an artist. Deb has been painting all her adult life and is still busy taking art classes and seminars and learning more. She loves painting so much that she often gets up at 5:30 am and paints.


The group has a wide range of experience and includes women that have been painting most of their adult lives to beginners. Leonardo Da Vinci said, "Art is never finished, only abandoned." Several women started painting some years ago, put their art on hiatus, and are thrilled to be painting again.


The contagious laughter and camaraderie of the group is a magnet for other artists. Donna Clark was getting her hair done and heard all the laughter. When she went to investigated, she was intrigued and soon joined the group. Donna painted in the past, but joining the group has rekindled her passion for art. She worked as a credit manager and is relatively new to Fairfield Harbour after moving here from New Hampshire. It is perfect way to meet new neighbors and feed her creative side.


Linda Sura also took up watercolor painting again after a hiatus. Having moved here from Maryland and working as a computer specialist, she is an accomplished basket maker and displays unique woven art at the Community Arts Gallery.

Gina Wertz displaying her paintings

After a 10-year hiatus from painting, Gina Wertz is enjoying painting again and being with this group. During her time off, she kept drawing on her iPad and utilized technology to help her in painting. She pointed out that after she takes a picture of a subject, she turns it to black and white, which helps her identify the shadows and intricacies of the subject and bring depth to her work. After working in medicine, she finds that art brings her "pure joy" and is her "happy place."


Brenda Singh started painting with acrylics during Covid when she needed another hobby in addition to gardening and puzzles. She finds that working with watercolors helps her with working with acrylics. Being a prolific painter, she has around 50 paintings in her home. After working as an occupational health inspector, she always felt like there was an "artist waiting to escape." She also has a gift basket company in town.


Raye Lynn Longhini is brand new to the group and is enjoying being able to express her artistic heart through painting. An accomplished musician and elementary school teacher, she was frustrated with difficulty playing her guitar and wanted to find another creative outlet. Raye Lynn is a person who brings art to her home by planning her décor as well as her creative gardening.


Pam Gaskill has been painting for about six months and is enjoying the painting as well as the camaraderie of the group. A former elementary school teacher in Ohio, Pam has always been creative, evidenced by her sewing, home decoration, and writing. Watercolors have provided another outlet for her creativity.

When you see the art of Lila Skanes, you are immediately drawn in by the expressed light-hearted whimsy displayed in her art. Lila has been painting for eight years and likes designing cards she shares with lucky friends. A teacher told her as a child that she wasn't very good at art, so she never pursued it until later. She moved here from Arizona and has found this group to be very welcoming and an excellent way to meet people.


A beautiful day by the water to paint

Even non-painters can appreciate the art, the creativity, and the warm feeling that is going on in this room. One of the artists pointed out that good art touches your heart and soul, which is precisely what is going on in this class and with this group of artists.



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2 Comments


createjoy4you
Feb 02, 2023

How can I join the art group? Thanks.

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pegmac1218
Feb 04, 2023
Replying to

I'd like to know, too!

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