By Nancy Eckerson
This past September, I made my way back to the “whiteboard” jungle. This has been a real eye-opener for me. I took “Introduction to Watercolor,” a medium I had grown to love over a decade ago but had set aside for the demands of daily life since that time.
This experience has once again aroused my love of the arts. Boosting my creativity has made me feel more alive – like a kid again. And my ability to focus and stay in the moment has been restored, especially when I have a brush in my hand.
I have actually received requests to purchase my work, and the pride that elicits is enormous. I have now, months later, completed my first class since graduate school in the 1970s, and the result has been refreshing on many levels. I was feeling stuck and stale and going back to college was the cure. For me, rediscovering one of my passions was the key. I needed something light-hearted and creatively inspiring. Watercolor was a good choice.
The coming alive was not limited to the artwork, though. My fellow classmates, the 20- to 30-year-old students, were a real blessing. I was a bit leery at the start, not knowing the current music scene or the modern lingo. In the long run, it did not matter. I found these young men and women to be insightful, caring and most of all, endearing.
We laughed, helped each other out, and shared our frustrations and successes with equal intensity as the semester rolled on. I feel quite confident that we are leaving this world in good hands as these fine people head toward their careers.
Our instructor, Sandy Clisham Bartz, was not just knowledgeable and experienced in art, she was also respectful, kind and considerate to every student. The atmosphere inspired creativity and everyone was allowed to blossom at their own rate.
I fell back in love with watercolor painting and produced nearly 30 paintings of varying degrees of difficulty and beauty. From the start, I set up a portfolio and filed things as we completed each lesson. This gave me a perfect view of my improvement as each week passed.
And here’s the catch – I didn’t pay a penny for this college class. I enrolled in the Senior Citizen Audit program for Erie Community College North Campus on Main Street in Amherst. From the first experience, finding the college safety office to get my parking permit, I felt valued and secure. There was even a bit of excitement when staff members heard I was auditing. Could it actually be a rare sight having seniors take advantage of this gift from the county?
And the best part is, since you do not get a grade, tests and homework are not mandatory.
The whole experience gave me a greater connection to the link between my county and myself. I feel proud that Erie County is fostering the education of young and old alike. The school is a gold mine of opportunity, and these old buildings, although in need of tender care, house our future.
Taking a senior audit class is a great way to come alive this winter. I urge others to give their county’s community college a call and experience the joy of expanding their brain capacity through learning.
Check out their Senior Citizen Audit program for the next semester, which starts later this month. It’s a great time to leave the winter doldrums behind and strike out on a new adventure.
Nancy Eckerson, of Akron, has rediscovered her love of making art.