Shrewsbury’s vibrant art community offers many opportunities
By Lori Berkey, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury resident Nancy Allen still remembers the pride she felt when a nun gave her high praise for her first crayon drawing in first grade. She was enthralled by her uncle’s watercolor creations, and wanted to make art her career. She earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, but then ended up securing a graduate certificate in public health. Her passion for art lay dormant while she raised her sons and worked as Shrewsbury’s public health director. It wasn’t until her kids grew up and she retired, that her art pursuits bloomed again.
When Allen stopped working, she took a class at the Worcester Art Museum (WAM). There, she met other students who were eager to learn new techniques. When the sessions ended, she and some classmates decided to keep meeting. Since the WAM class met on Thursday mornings, the group began convening at various local outdoor places to paint together during that same time slot. Arriving with different strengths, they opted to gently critique each other’s work. They dubbed themselves the “Thursday Painters.”
Members bring their own supplies. Some bring watercolors, some bring acrylics and others bring water-based oils. They all have an idea about what they are going to do, and they work independently for about an hour and a half. At the end, they line up their work and start a critique. Feedback is given about the color, light and other aspects.
“Having another artist look at it and comment on the good and not-so-good points of your composition; hearing from somebody looking at it with a fresh eye, is the most helpful thing that an artist can hope for,” Allen said.
Prior to the WAM class, Allen joined the Artist Guild of Shrewsbury (AGS). She attended meetings where she listened to presentations and watched demonstrations. When she heard AGS members were invited to exhibit their work for a span at the Tatnuck Bookseller in Westborough, she contacted the business to ask if the Thursday Painters could display theirs another time. The response was favorable.
“It brought the Thursday painters closer together and made us a group that now had a goal to put together enough work that it looked like a show,” Allen said.
In 2010, after the first summer the Thursday Painters met outdoors, the colder weather made them seek an indoor location. The Northborough Senior Center agreed to reserve a room for them on Thursday mornings. While the center’s space is currently available year-round from 9:30 a.m. to-12:00 p.m. for anyone wanting to paint, Allen said the group will venture to outdoor locations in the spring as weather permits.
Allen became the Thursday Painters’ liaison to the Senior Center, but each member shares responsibility for organizing events. They use a group email list to communicate about meeting plans.
Allen said anyone with a desire to paint can join. The group doesn’t collect fees, but participants each leave a $3 donation to the Senior Center when they paint there. Formal instruction is not offered, but sessions do give participants the chance to watch others paint.
“All of us are just amateur painters that do it for fun,” she said, adding that she encourages anyone interested in instruction-based sessions to visit the AGS website at www.artistguildshrewsbury.com for a list of events people can attend as guests to decide if they want to become an AGS member. Those interested in participating in the Thursday Painters can contact Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out where the group will meet when the weather permits outdoor sessions.
The AGS will be displaying artworks in a rotating exhibit at the new Shrewsbury Federal Credit Union (SFCU) located at 489 Boston Turnpike (on Route 9 at the intersection of Lake Street). Watercolors by Pam Haynes will be featured in the first display. An Artists’ Reception will be held Thursday, May 16 from 5 to 7 p.m. All are welcome to attend.
Lisa Raabe, SFCU’s marketing director, said the bank was proud to sponsor the exhibit.
“We continue to stay involved with the communities we serve and appreciate the talents of our local artists,” she said.
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