KENSINGTON – “It’s amazing,” said one.
“Look at that there, that’s beautiful,” cooed another.
The consensus? The paintings created by members of the Kensington Senior Surfers and other area seniors are amazing.
“This year we participated in an eight-week art program through the Learning Elders Art Program. We were given lessons once a week by painter Scott O’Neil,” explained Senior Surfer organizer Norma Pasatieri.
The program allows seniors a social experience while learning a new skill.
“I approached Scott last year, when we were talking about putting in a LEAP application. He’s a phenomenal artist so it’s a great fit.”
Art supplies, for the 15 participants, were funded through the LEAP program, allowing each participant to have their own paints, brushes, tools, easel and canvases.
“It was really encouraging and motivational to try a new thing with the guidance of someone like Scott.
“What was really special was seeing one of the participants sit back in their seat and look at their work and, that look of awe that appeared on their face, was incredible,” concluded Pasatieri.
George MacKay, one of the participants in the workshop, said he was skeptical about what he could create.
“I grew up on a farm. The only thing I even painted was a board fence,” he said with a chuckle.
“But our instructor really guided us through the steps. We’d sit and work for two-and-a-half hours and time would fly by.”
For his individual painting, MacKay decided to create an image of his gardens, specifically the rows of dahlias.
“We used to own Malpeque Gardens. And I wanted to paint something I was connected to. I’m really pleased how it turned out.”
He says initiatives like LEAP are important for seniors and people of all ages.
“As a senior, I think we don’t know what talents we do have. And participating in these activities changes a person’s scope. It really allowed me to see new things.”
Barbara Connick, another participant, says despite her best efforts, she still can’t draw a straight line.
“I still haven’t quite mastered it. But I think the program has also allow seniors to capture more knowledge. I find we always want to continue to progress instead of getting stuck in one little hole in life.”
Scott O’Neil, owner of O’Neil Home Gallery, said the unique experience with a new group was enticing.
“Each group I work with has different personalities. And this group is enthusiastic and work well together.
“At the beginning, there was a project I walked them through and then they each worked on an individual project,” he explained.
“They’ve done phenomenally. And an active mind is a healthy mind. Art is a great therapy and encourages people to try something they haven’t done before.”
To showcase the participants’ work, an open house is set for Thursday, March 22 at 1 p.m. at the Kensington Seniors Centre. If there are calls for inclement weather, snow date is Thursday March 29.