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March 6, 2013

Painting through life's second act

Mixed-media exhibition features senior works at arts center

PLATTSBURGH — Sixty-five years ago in England, Ann Novoselec studied art at the University of Sussex in Brighton.

“I was a veteran,” Novoselec said. “I was in the Women’s Land Army during the second World War. I got a grant to college, but I couldn’t afford to keep going.

“I didn’t do much (artistically) after that until I had the opportunity with the Senior Center here.”

For nearly three years, Bryan Briscoe has taught beginning watercolor classes and encouraged his students to exhibit their works. There were baby steps exhibiting in the Senior Center and now “Encore,” a showcase of senior work, at the North Country Center for the Arts in Plattsburgh. Closing reception is Friday from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

“Some have earlier experience painting, and some people are new to it,” Novoselec said. “They always wanted to do it, but it wasn’t until they were seniors they had the time.”

The show features 17 artists and 85 works that range from quilts to woodworking and paintings.

MAKING MISTAKES

Novoselec, 85, works mainly in watercolor.

“Our instructor demonstrates, encourages different things and gives us the techniques. We’re starting a course in a couple of weeks on acrylics.

“I prefer landscape, but Bryan usually gives us a subject — portraits, working people, different tonal paintings, contrast and that sort of thing.”

Briscoe has taught in a variety of settings, including academia, and more informal sites, such as the Senior Center.

“I look at the artist to see how they paint,” he said. “I don’t tell them what to do. I find out what their strengths and weaknesses are first. I give them a chance just to mess up in class, to make mistakes. Then, I go back.”

He tries to get in his students’ heads psychologically to see where they are coming from. His interest lies in developing future artists.

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