Whether you are a beginner or an advanced artist, the Downriver Council for the Arts in Wyandotte offers feedback and friendship during painting and drawing sessions with local artist Bruce Tims.
Tims offers drop-in sessions Tuesdays from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the DCA at the James R. DeSana Center for Arts and Culture, 81 Chestnut Street.
Tims, a Wyandotte resident and photographer and graphic designer, said most drop-in attendees paint with acrylics and watercolors and are a mix of novice and experienced artists.
“If they have questions, I’ll help them,” he says. “I think everyone can draw and paint. I think it’s like music – the more you do it, the better you get at it.”
Tims said that while there are some artists who are naturally gifted, he believes anyone who is willing to practice can learn to draw and paint.
He said the current participants get along well.
“It’s a social thing,” said Tims.
Wyandotte participant Dawn Howard, who knew Tims before the class and owns some of his artwork, said that when she wanted to try something new, his art classes were a good fit.
“I called him and said, ‘Do you think I would fit into your group?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely — you’ve got the character and the humor to handle it,'” she said.
Howard said her only previous exposure to painting was the social group sessions where one sips adult beverages while painting.
“No drinks here except coffee,” she said with a grin.
Attendee Gina Schoen of Flat Rock said that when she retired from teaching middle school English and history in 2019, she looked for an art class to attend, but when the pandemic hit in early 2020, she prevented that until recently personal lessons.
She said she painted in her teens and twenties but never picked up a brush until she retired.
“Life has been too busy for a hobby, so I got back into it, and I love it,” Schoen said. “I love the group and I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited to be able to get back into my hobby and it’s a fun group to hang out with.”
Participant Susan Henry from Maybee, who learned about the group from a friend, said she had always wanted to paint.
“I painted years ago — folk art painting, and I really didn’t like that,” she said. “I wanted to do ‘real’ paintings, like animals and people and landscapes and things like that – not ceramic pieces.”
Group member Pam McCullough of Woodhaven, who recently retired as a computer-aided design operator, is returning to watercolor painting after years of not having time to paint.
She said she likes to paint from real three-dimensional objects rather than working from a photograph.
McCullough said that painting is calming and peaceful for her and boosts her self-esteem.
She said Tims is an effective way of facilitating the group.
“He knows what he’s doing, but he doesn’t step on your toes,” McCullough said. “He’ll give you little hints of information for direction, but he doesn’t pick up your pen and start doing whatever it is — he helps get you back to where you need to be.”
Participant Janet Keathley from Woodhaven said she enjoys exploring many types of artistic mediums, from watercolor to acrylic to charcoal.
While working on a winter landscape, she said that when you choose to live in Michigan, you learn to appreciate the beauty of untouched snow — at least until you have to drive in it.
“That’s great,” she said. “Every time I come, I’ve learned something.”
Participant Diane Moyer of Flat Rock, a retired high school English and history teacher, also enjoys capturing scenes from Michigan, painting from a photograph she took on Mackinac Island.
“I was trained in watercolor and Bruce convinced me to try acrylic, so I’ve been working in acrylic ever since,” she said.
Moyer said she enjoys the classes and doesn’t miss grading papers.
“It’s definitely therapeutic,” she said. “I met really good friends here. What do you have to lose? If you don’t like it, paint it over.”
For a list of art classes and drop-in sessions at DCA, as well as other programs for children and adults, visit downriverarts.org.