Artist of the Month: Donna Marie Boland

Donna Boland chose these four pieces of art to feature since there was still snow on the ground when she was writing her article, and this wintry season is what inspired these pictures. She also features pick-up trucks in a lot of her work.She likes personalizing the paintings with family names on the truck and inserting family pets into the scene.

By Donna Marie Boland

I’m Donna Marie (Maro) Boland and I love art. Beautiful art is the difference between a drab, colorless life and a life full of brilliant splashes of passion and emotions, all put on canvas. And everyone’s passion is so different. That’s what I love the most.

But first let me tell you a little about myself. My life is always full of excitement with my loving family. My handsome husband, Sean, is recently retired, so I get to spend much more special time with him.  

This also includes my beautiful daughter, Maria and her husband, Michel, who is a Sommelier at a local vineyard. Maria works as the Assistant Director of Clinical and Patient Services at the Lehigh Valley Health Network. 

And then there’s my musical son, Sean, who is a music therapist at Allied Service and several local nursing homes. Not to mention his talented band members, who practice religiously in our basement. They just cut their first single. He will soon be married to his lovely fiancée, Dominique, who is also licensed in the medical field. They all keep me hopping and I’d have it no other way.  They are all the loves of my life.

I was born and raised in Dunmore.  Most of my friends were from this borough and I’m still a Dunmorean at heart. (We are… the Bucks!)  I now am thrilled to get to know so many more interesting people at this local Dunmore Activity Hub.  

It’s been very hard this last year with Covid to keep track of the health and well-being of each of the artists/friends in this class. I do miss them all greatly, along with our lovely instructor Jill Swersie. I do try to keep in touch with a few of the close friends I’ve made, but I know how hard it is on each of them. I could only hope we’re back together soon.

Besides art, I am a member of the Dave Ragnacci School of Dance and take a regular adult jazz class once a week there. The instructor is also my best friend. So, as an extra bonus, I get to visit with him during classes. 

I do yoga with Theresa Novak most weekdays… now by Zoom, of course. Yoga and her meditation classes have held me together during this trying time. And once it gets a little warmer out, I’ll be back out on my bike. I like doing approximately 14 to 30 miles daily, depending on the day. This keeps me mentally and physically together, and I just love it.

I’ve chosen these four pieces in the photo due to the fact there’s still snow on the ground as I write this and this wintry season is what has inspired these pictures. I love being outdoors and the beauty of snow is exquisite. 

I also have adopted pick-up trucks into a lot of my work. I just enjoy painting them. They are also the ones that I replicate and sell the most of.  I like personalizing them with family names on the truck and inserting family pets into the scene. 

Watching the excited faces of the people purchasing these special portraits for their family elates me. I never get tired of seeing the excitement on the receivers faces. Especially when they see a long passed, beloved pet in the front seat of the truck, next to the steering wheel. Cardinals also tend to fly into a lot of my winter paintings. The bright, red color of the cardinal against the soft, white winter’s snow is always so powerful.

I have loved art most of my life and I’m so happy to be a member of this wonderful group. I hope to have my talented sister, Lynette, join me in a few years when she finally retires. She can put on canvas almost anything she sees, and is always very polished. Looks like I may have to step it up a bit if I’m going to keep up with her talent. Well, I do have a few years to practice before she will be able to join us, but definitely something to look forward to.

I do look forward to getting back with my art friends and suggest anyone with even a little bit of talent, to come on over to this class and join our group. I promise you, you won’t regret it!

Artist of the Month: Martha McAndrew

By Martha McAndrew

The picture is of Toby, my small seven-year-old bichon/maltese pet.  I was very fortunate to get him when he was five, because his first family could no longer care for him, and my 17-year old-poodle, McGee III, had just passed away.

I painted Toby a few months ago.  He’s pictured on my living room carpet and you may have spotted his toys in the picture.

When I retired in 2002, I filled my life with prayer, meditation, golf, and bowling. Then I decided to take a few one-hour watercolor art classes at the library. I really got hooked on art ,and as my 88-year-old bones began to reject golf and bowling, I searched for an art teacher.  

Al Ondush, a wonderful artist and great story teller agreed to give me private lessons. I studied with Al for eight years until he sadly passed away in 2019. At that time I was painting with a group near home that Joyce Harrington joined.  She invited me to join the art class at the Dunmore Senior Center where she belonged to a class of about 30 members. 

I took her up on her invitation even though I lived 10 miles from Dunmore, and I am so happy that I did because it is so much fun there.

Our great art teacher, Jill Swersie, is so helpful and positive. She is a wonderful teacher and a great artist, and she is a friend to all of us. About 25 members work in oils and there are five of us doing watercolors.

Until our class was interrupted by this terrible pandemic, we met on Mondays from 1 to 5 p.m. and we had a wonderful time. Members brought delicious treats every week and we really enjoyed seeing one another.  We had an annual Friday night art show with music and dancing and delicious teats.  

Our annual Monday afternoon Christmas party was very enjoyable, as we celebrated with a great sing-along featuring Ruth Boyles on guitar and Dee Noll on piano.  We also contributed money for presentation to a worthy charity each year. Our class recently reconvened on a small basis, but because of the pandemic I have not been there since last spring. I hope that everyone will be vaccinated soon so that our class can get back to normal.

Art has become a really big part of my life. I have one of my paintings printed for my annual Christmas card that I send out to 130 relatives and friends. I fashion other cards to use as birthday greetings, get well cards, and just friendly messages.  

I am so grateful that I joined the art class at the Dunmore Senior Center because I have made so many new friends there and I have also benefited from Jill’s great instruction.

 I have isolated myself because of the virus, and since I have no teacher, I decided to copy Saturday Evening Post covers of the fantastic artist, Norman Rockwell. This endeavor has provided me with hundreds of joyful hours, trying to learn from the master.

I’m almost a Dunmorean because I grew up in Scranton on the 900 block of Monroe Avenue, only five blocks from the Dunmore Senior Center.  In addition, my father was one of 10 siblings who were born and grew up at 152 E. Pine Street in Dunmore. My brother Jim and his wife Mary later lived in that family homestead, where they raised their six children. 

 I also arranged to have a Hometown Hero poster of my father, Eugene McAndrew, a World War I veteran, displayed at the Turkey Hill Market on Blakely Street for two years. Dunmore is a wonderful town!                              

Artist of the Month: Lillian Banick

Lillian Banick, February Artist of the Month at the Dunmore Activity Center, is shown with three of her paintings, from left:  “Lake Scranton”, “Paris,” and “Horse Frolicking.”  

Lillian Banick is one of the most dedicated painters at the painting class at Dunmore Activity Center.  She and her sister, Lucille, were even seen stopping at the center for painting tips during the last COVID opening.

Lillian always admired art and her story is memorable.  

“I started oil painting while working with the United States Foreign Service,” Lillian explains. “I was stationed in countries around the world, but I believe I took my first art lessons while serving in India. Over the course of my career with the State Department, I painted landscapes and cityscapes of places that captured my imagination in France, Germany, Hong Kong, Mexico, etc. After retirement, I didn’t pick up a brush for many years.” 

The above quote was shared by her proud nephew, Brian Petula, Esq. who lovingly added,” I enjoy looking at my aunt’s paintings of the Taj Mahal, places she visited in the Rhine, the view from her embassy apartment in Hong Kong, etc. 

“Each painting reminds us of her many memorable stories and adventures of service around the world. For example, in India Aunt Lil worked with Mother Teresa helping place some of the most disadvantaged orphans with families in the United States. 

“I have one of Aunt Lil’s paintings of an old German village hanging in my living room. It is a daily reminder of how proud I am of her service and contributions to our country.”

When Lillian discovered that the Dunmore Senior Center was offering a painting class, she was enthused and “jumped at the opportunity.”  The benefits are many, and she says, “It’s been more rewarding than I ever expected!”  

As well as painting, Lillian enjoys the social aspect of the class and the ability to share techniques with others. 

“This class provides me the opportunity to meet many interesting people and view their paintings. Our instructor Jill Swersie is very patient and has shared invaluable artistic advice.  “We have a good time and learn a lot from each other,” she notes. 

Lucille enjoys painting with her friends, and notes, “Landscapes and animals are my favorite subjects.”  

Her niece, Linda Ross, comments, “I recently received a painting of a lion and a lioness lying together in the grasslands that my Aunt Lillian recently completed during quarantine since her art classes are currently on hold. It is something I will cherish forever and I am proud to have her expression of art adorn our home.”