Redlands Palletteers

The Redlands Paletteers, from left, Wayne Beavers, Maya Lee, Marge Lambson, Won Koh and John Grimm.

I am continually amazed by the multitude of community activities available to local seniors at no charge, such as the Redlands Paletteers, a friendly group of local artists and art lovers who meet for class Friday mornings at Redlands Senior Center.

I dropped in to visit and was greeted by cheerful strangers who welcomed me to sit alongside them at tables spread with watercolors, acrylics, oils and easels while they painted against the soft gentle background of classical piano music.

I thoroughly enjoyed the pleasant, relaxed atmosphere. “We drink coffee and tell stories,” said Marge Lambson, who was quick to identify herself as “room mother” to the Paletteers.

“Anybody can come if they want to learn to paint, people at all levels. We talk about families, grandbabies. All are welcome, whether you’re an experienced artist or not.”

As an aside, Marge also pointed out that whereas most people can spell the word palette correctly, when referencing the tablet with a hole at one end for the thumb of the artist who is mixing paint colors, but they invariably misspell the word paletteer by leaving out the second t.

(Thank goodness she cautioned me, I thought, or I too may have made that same mistake.)

The value of art has long been recognized as a way of depicting the spirit within us. It has often been said that art is just as much an expression of what is inside us as what surrounds us. Won Koh, an artist for nearly 15 years, shared her views.

“I feel that art is an accumulation of wisdom. The more you work on it, the more polished you become.”

Wayne Beavers, a retired manufacturing engineer, is a relative newcomer. Marge is helping him to learn to paint. “It’s a lot of fun!” Wayne said with a smile.

“I’m enjoying it very much.” Retired clinical psychologist Maya Lee, an artist for many years, shared how she saved her goal to one day master the art of painting with watercolors until after her retirement — an accomplishment she is proud to have fulfilled, especially since two of her framed watercolors now hang on the classroom walls.

And John Grimm, formerly a librarian who has been attending the class for nearly two years, showed me his painting of a window flower box which he is working on.

He too has paintings that hang on the classroom walls. Whether the artist is working from a still life, photograph or an independent idea, the class stimulates new ways to think about the artistic process. Marge also shared her latest work.

“I just finished a mother elephant and baby at a waterhole, now I’m starting a tiger.

“We share mutual concerns with such problems as roof rats, gardens, trees and bugs and learn so much from talking to one another.

“No one really gives instructions about art unless somebody asks, ‘What do you think?’ People can just come in with a pencil and paper to see if they like the class,” she said, “or they may bring brushes, paints and easels if they wish.”

It is clear that bonds of friendship, along with the spirit of camaraderie, have been formed by this friendly group of artists and that they are always eager to welcome newcomers to come join them.

Jan Fowler is an award-winning columnist and author. She was voted “Ms. Super Senior California USA,” a category reserved for women age 75 and older. Send comments to janfowlerusa@yahoo.com