Suta Tilton first tried painting with watercolors as a child in Thailand.
“The teacher painted a beautiful sky and I thought I could do that,” Tilton says. “I tried but I didn’t do well. I gave up painting from then on.”
Decades later as a resident of Claridge Court, a Lifespace community near Kansas City, Tilton gave painting another try, joining a weekly class in the community’s art studio. Four years of classes followed, allowing her talent to flourish.
Now a framed print made from her painting of the Claridge Court building sits on display at the community’s front desk.
“She is a very wonderful painter,” says Donna Aldridge, the class instructor. “She really captures her subjects beautifully.”
Tilton finds painting soothing, as long as she is not rushed.
“It’s very therapeutic sometimes,” she says.
The studio is open to residents at all hours, and Tilton is sometimes so focused on her paintings that she works throughout the night.
“One night I painted from 10:30 to 6:30 the next morning,” Tilton says. “I couldn’t believe that I painted for eight hours,”
The art classes have had a similar effect on Claridge Court resident Peggy Evans.
She took her first class 50 years ago before signing up for the Claridge Court class four years ago.
Aldridge provides individual instruction on color, brush strokes and other techniques, and it has led to a big improvement, Evans says.
“My children now actually want my paintings,” she says.
She also finds painting to be relaxing.
“I can understand now why Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower liked to paint,” Evans says. “You can’t think about anything else when you’re doing it. It’s just wonderful.”
For resident Helen Fisher, art is an escape.
Fisher has a long appreciation for art, having worked for 40 years as a docent at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.
“I knew I could talk art, but I didn’t know I could paint or draw until I came here,” she says. “The class has been a wonderful addition at Claridge Court for us.”
Although the Claridge Court art students have different talents and backgrounds, they all share a passion for art and learning, Aldridge says.
“It just really opens up another lovely place for them,” she says. “It’s a rather joyful experience for so many of them.”
(In the top right photo: Resident George Robinson paints a beautiful pathway)
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