Weekly art class brings residents together

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By Rachel Christian

Andrea Schirmer never considered herself an artist before she attended the Adult Drawing and Watercolor classes at the Alexandrian Public Library.

“I used to say that I couldn’t even draw a stick figure,” the retired hair stylist said.

Now, about three years later, Schirmer takes pride in her work, which has steadily improved over time.

It wasn’t an overnight transformation, but Schirmer said the friendly, supportive participants and individualized instruction let her develop her skills and form bonds with others in the community.

“It’s not a competitive place where everyone is trying to outdo each other,” she said. “People share their work, and we all give our feedback, support and suggestions.”

APL Events Director Stanley Campbell launched the class about six years ago as a way to make art and education more accessible to local residents. Campbell, who holds a bachelors and masters degree in art, doesn’t stand at the front of the room lecturing his students like a traditional classroom setting. Instead, he walks around the white tables of the Wabash Room, offering advice to each student as they create their own unique piece of art.

“It is something that has really evolved over the years,” Campbell said.

The class has 19 registered patrons from a variety of backgrounds and skill levels. Those who began as novices, such as Schirmer and fellow retiree Vicky Turner, said it’s hard to believe how far they have progressed since they first began. Turner also noted how the class has taught them to appreciate “the little things” in everyday life.

“You see more detail,” Turner said.  “Just driving down the road, you see more detail in the shrubs by the side of the road and in the buildings. You see the shadows and the different variations of the color. It improves your appreciation of life.”

Turner said she doesn’t usually paint much outside the class, but others have gone on to have their work displayed in New Harmony galleries, Evansville boutiques and other art venues.

“You can make it whatever you’re willing to put into it,” one participant explained.

The class is a mix of dedicated regulars and casual attendees, but most said the biggest improvements come from those who stick with it. Many said they came to pick up a new hobby, but stayed for the bonds they formed with others in the class.

“It’s about much more than art,” said one participant. “We talk about everything in here as we draw and paint. We learn and grow from each other in more than one way.”

The Adult Drawing and Watercolor class meets from 10 a.m. to noon each Thursday, with an open critique time at 9 a.m. Registration is required, but those with their own supplies can simply walk in and join the group.

Contract Campbell at the APL by calling 812-838-3286.