Maria Fenessy probably would have taken Colette Dorais’ secret to her grave. That’s how tight a band of artists can become in a year.Once a week, Fenessy, 65, and a half-dozen other local painters, would meet in the garage Dorais transformed into an art studio at her University City home.It was open to anyone who was serious about acrylics or oils. The camaraderie that developed from sharing and critiquing each other’s work quickly grew thick.“I was always so eager to get there,” said Fenessy, who remembered the excitement of working beside other artists for the first time.Sometimes they pooled enough money for an accomplished painter to come and show them a new technique.Dorais remembered the lesson on light most – and how much the concept changed her paintings. “You begin to see things,” she said. Like the way the late afternoon light filtered through the trees as she pulled into her garage. “It can make for dangerous driving,” said Dorais.But most of the time the troupe of artists who had joined, usually by word of mouth, sat and painted at the easels scattered around her garage, oblivious to their surroundings.The salt-air breeze from a beach painting stifled any stale exhaust fumes. The stagnant concrete floor rippled into turquoise waves as Canada geese skimmed across a lake’s surface.And then one day the garage developed a structural problem, and the meetings had to move. Now the group meets inside the Huntersville Arts & Cultural Center, where most say the lighting is much better than in that old garage.They still pool their money on occasion to bring in an artist who teaches them a new technique, but most of the time they serve as teachers to each other.Professional artists, such as Rob Freet, look forward each week for the chance to talk about their craft with peers.“As a full-time artist who paints at home, I really appreciate the opportunity to paint around other people,” said Freet, 64, who lives in Denver. “You get informed critical feedback – what’s working or not working.”The studio is open to anyone, from professional artists to amateurs. Painters pay $20 each, enough to cover the rent for a month, and they provide their own easels, paints, canvas and other supplies.“It’s for any artists who are serious in developing their own art,” said Dorais.Since its humble beginnings in her garage, Dorais said the open daytime studio concept has been a hit with both senior adults and stay-at-home moms whose children are at school.“Once you’re in there, nobody can get to you,” she said of its appeal. “You’re focused on your art, and all the other calls-to-action – the spouse, the children, the chores – everything is just shut down for a while.”So what created the structural problem in the garage all those months ago? Fenessy wouldn’t tell, but Dorais eventually came clean.“Unfortunately, I had an accident. A car accident. I didn’t hurt myself,” she said. “But I’m embarrassed to say I backed into my own garage.”
Friday, Aug. 31, 2012
Informal painting group now has open daytime studio in Huntersville
Informal area group now offers open daytime studio in Huntersville
Want to go? The daytime open studio for oils/acrylics painters provides the opportunity for artists to work independently beside other artists on a weekly basis. Sessions meet 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Wednesdays beginning Sept. 12 at the Huntersville Arts & Cultural Center, 109 S. Old Statesville Road (near the corner of Gilead Road off Interstate 77 Exit 23). Cost: $20 per four-week period, plus a $5 one-time registration fee. For information or to register, email Colette Dorais, email@example.com.