Text Size

The Incredible Art Classes at The Village at Penn State

April 3, 2024

The Village at Penn State residents participate in the watercolors class.
The Village at Penn State residents participate in the watercolors class.

In senior communities like The Village at Penn State, the arts play a significant role in contributing to the quality of residents’ lives.

Art classes are especially meaningful to members of this State College, PA community because they provide opportunities to develop creativity and new skills. The classes also offer a convivial environment for making and reinforcing social connections through the pursuit of a shared passion.

According to Kim McGinnis, Director of Community Life at The Village, “Residents enjoy weekly classes thanks to an anonymous donor who finds and funds the professional working artists who teach the classes, and who even covers the cost of art supplies that are needed.”

Visiting Artist Instructors Bring Expertise and Guidance

A panoply of classes are taught in the Community Room by different visiting artist instructors, each of whom teach several sessions. This provides the opportunity for residents to experience a range of techniques and methods used by various local professional artists. Most students like the variety while others enjoy the bonds they develop with specific individual instructors.

According to Polly Anne, a student who has lived at The Village for nine years with her husband, “I love the classes that I took with Suzanne Gephardt, from the Penn State Faculty, because she really opened me up and excited me about painting watercolors. I would enjoy taking one of her week-long summer workshops in the future.”

As the class list shows, The Village offers an astonishing array of classes in a variety of media to appeal to many different creative interests and abilities. Some students are mastering the art of watercolor painting, while others pursue painting portraits, wildlife or still life in other media, such as pastels. Other residents find fulfillment crafting- by stenciling and making plant prints-or designing collage cards. Still others spend hours in drawing classes or studying color theory.

Residents Rave About Their Experiences

“There really is something for everyone to enjoy. Some residents like to try many different kinds of media, whereas others prefer pursuing one medium in which to develop expertise,” says Kim.

“There are typically ten or twelve residents who attend painting classes, so the classes are on an intimate scale which affords individual attention” according to Dorothy, a student in the watercolor class.

Another watercolor class student named Cindy says, “At first, I was somewhat intimidated by the level competence of some of my classmates. Some studied art in college and are very accomplished. But, I have kept at it because I love learning and value the interaction with the others in watercolor class.”

Dorothy adds, “Some participants are very proficient. They may have pursued other careers and are getting back into art now. Some might not have painted since childhood. People can start in at any level and learn a lot.”

Theresa says, “I’d been drawing but didn’t take painting classes prior to moving to The Village. Studying watercolor is a totally new challenge from drawing. I have a long way to go, but I am enjoying the classes and am making progress.”

Dorothy concludes, “It interesting to see what colleagues are doing and sometimes we surprise ourselves with what we create. The classes also give us a chance to get to know people better than we otherwise would,” she states.

Regardless of their level of experience, the residents enjoy the interpersonal interactions in classes, appreciate the inspiration they discover, and enjoy getting feedback on their work from the teachers. All agree that it is rewarding to acquire new skills amidst the supportive camaraderie of friendly neighbors.