Artist of the Month: Ruth Boyles

Ruth Boyles, the September Artist of the Month, is shown with one of her paintings

By Ruth Boyles

For years I  had thought maybe there was an artist inside me that just needed to be taught how.  

One year, David Smith, a wonderful artist friend of mine and I were doing some work on Grace Bible Church’s “Living Nativity,” and he invited me to come to a painting class at the Dunmore Senior Center.  

I went, not knowing anything about art except that I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I thought I was just going to learn to paint, which I did.  But more than that I found many new friends.  People I have grown to love.  

I have immensely enjoyed my last nine years at what is presently called the Dunmore Activity Center.  In our sketch class, we have dabbled with watercolors, acrylics, pastels, charcoal on different surfaces, pen and ink, and during the painting time, most of us work with oils. 

We appreciate the help of our teacher, Jill Swersie, as she has very unselfishly given of herself to teach us how to make our paintings take on new dimensions and lives of their own.  We look forward to having her back full time when the Covid business is over.  

For now we are learning from each other.  I have been working on a “commission” of a barn which I especially enjoy painting for someone in the area.  It is special to this person because it was built during the Civil War.

The red barn was painted during a plein air painting day for our class in Scott Run, Pa.

Artist of the Month: Dolly Michalczyk

June Artist of the Month Dolly Michalczyk is shown working on her abstract painting entitled “Long Island.”

By Dolly Michalczyk

Painting classes at the DCC have provided us with a creative outlet, contact with other like-minded folks, and friendships.  For a year-and-a-half our classes had been cancelled.  

At first, classmate Bev Petrini and I would paint outside, while a few of our braver classmates painted as a group.  Then it just got too cold. 

One would think that with all our free time we would have been painting up a storm, but in reality, most of us did nothing on our own.  Perhaps that speaks to the power of the group, or the need for our teacher’s input, or in my case, my laziness to drag out all I would need to paint in my dining room.  I did take a few online drawing and watercolor classes through The Greenhouse Project, as well as creative writing.  

I missed my friends and colleagues and our terrific teacher Jill Swersie.  May was my first time back.  Returning, it was wonderful to see a few dedicated painters, a few new faces, and even greater to hear of the return of our class on June 6. 

In reality, my only work in oils during this quarantine was touching up a huge commissioned piece of Long Island, as seen in the photo.  It is an abstract representation of that seaside area.  This is my first attempt at abstract painting, and while I enjoyed the freedom, I enjoy realism or impressionism best.  

I am currently working on a painting of my grand-puppies, my youngest granddaughter, Kara, in a dance recital, and my oldest granddaughter, Maura, running cross country.

Being back at the Dunmore Hub has been a joy.  We truly motivate each other.

Artist of the Month: Jill Swersie

We are proud to announce that oil painter and teacher Jill Swersie of Scotrun, is our May Artist of the Month at the Dunmore Activity Hub. We sat down with Jill and asked her to tell us a little about her background in the world of art:

How long have you been painting?
I loved art as a child in New Jersey and, long before I ever took the craft seriously, I was drawing and coloring. As I recall, art class was always my favorite and one in which I did very well.

Did you study art after your high school years?
No. Unfortunately, I was never able to go to art school. Most of what I have learned came from workshops I took over the years. I also watched other artists and studied those whose work I admired.

Do you have a favorite artist, one who may have influenced you?
If I was to name an artist whom I really admired, I would have to say it was John Singer Sargent. Every once in a while someone tells me that one of my pieces reminds them of his work. That’s a huge compliment.

Did you ever think you’d be teaching an art class?
No, it was never something on my radar. But about 28 years ago, a friend of mine who taught at Dunmore was quitting and I was asked if I’d like to take over the class. I was in my early 40’s at the time and the director of the center said that if I was comfortable with senior citizen students, I could have the job. I thought, what the heck, why not give it a try.

You must have been nervous. Was it hard to teach in those early years?
Oh, yes, I was nervous at first. But after a few classes I became more comfortable. All my students were so kind to me and so appreciative that I started to love going to class every Monday. But the love was not just for teaching. It was for my students as well. They all became friends, many of whom still are. Right now I have over 30 students and some of them have been in the class since day one. And what is funny…now I am as old as many of my newer students.

How have your students grown as artists?
Over the years, my students have grown tremendously, with many going on to participate in various art shows on their own. I am so proud of them.

This past year, with the pandemic, must have had an effect on your class. How have you dealt with that?
Sadly, we had to cancel our class this past year. But now, as more and more of us have been vaccinated, we are very close to starting back up and I can’t wait. Of course, we will all observe social distancing and mask wearing when we do resume the class. Staying safe and healthy is very important to all of us.

When classes do resume, what should those interested in participating know?
Our class has always been, and will always be, on Mondays between 1 and 3:30 pm. There is a $5 fee per class. When we start back up we will get the word out to everyone and new students will always be welcome. Hopefully, we will get back to normal very soon.