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.

Artist of the Month: Bill Graziano

Artist Bill Graziano

Graziano is trying to continue his artwork at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. This work in progress is called “The Artist.”

By Bill Graziano

After the Dunmore Senior Center had to close due to the pandemic, I found it necessary to seek other diversions to fill my time. It made me realize how much I missed the comaraderie of my fellow painters in Jill Swersie’s art class.

Having been a member of her class for over three years, its members have become like an extended family to me.

To fill the downtime, I began to work on overdue chores, such as downsizing basement storage. Upon completion of that task, I asked myself, “Now what can I do to fill the empty hours of confinement?” So, I decided to venture on a painting working from home.

I began by sketching my subject with chalk, then called upon my memory to aid me with all of Jill’s previous instructions. I have entitled it “The Artist,” and as you can see, it is still a work in progress.

The temporary closing of the Dunmore Senior Center has reminded me and fellow members how important its services are to the local seniors, and how it fulfills a void in our lives.

Hopefully, it will soon be able to open again!

Artist of the Month: Jean Mountford

Artist of Month

Jean Mountford is shown with one of her favorite paintings, “Lighthouse and Shallows.”

Jean Mountford of Scranton is the February, 2020,  Artist of the Month at Dunmore Activity Hub. Her “Lighthouse and Shallows” painting, pictured here, is one of her favorites. 

She states, “I love lighthouses and water scenes, finding them so tranquil and serene.”

Jean started painting decades ago, but transitioned into oil painting around nine years ago, when she started going to the Dunmore Senior Center art classes with her sister, Jan, last month’s Artist of the Month. 

She enthusiastically commented: “The class is great fun!  There is so much talent there. It is great inspiration just to see what everyone is working on,  and the support is wonderful. Plus, Jill Swersie, our wonderful instructor, keeps a wide library of pictures on hand to help us with ideas.”

Jean says she finds inspiration in photos, cards, and just about anywhere. She enjoys painting, her class, and classmates and thanks instructor Jill Swersie as well as Allison Boga, the Center’s Director, for this valuable and fun opportunity.