Reporter discovers some hidden artistic talents at Cobblestone class

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 20 February 2020 at 8:44 am

GAINES – Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

Ginny Kropf

I recently got a phone call from Doug Farley, director of the Cobblestone Museum, asking if I would be willing to join the upcoming Sunday afternoon art classes taught by Pat Greene of Medina.

Me? I don’t have an artistic bone in my body. At least not the kind of art Pat Greene would teach. Pat actually paints and creates beautiful things. My artistic ability stops at stick figures and paint-by-number.

But I admire Doug and all he is doing for the Cobblestone Society, so I agreed.

The classes are geared to artists (or would-be-artists) of all levels – from beginners to advanced. And Pat said the first class would be different – something that everyone would be able to do.

So with that in mind, I arrived at the Cobblestone Church at 1 p.m. on a recent Sunday and was directed to sit in the front row. I immediately thought Pat realized I was going to need a lot of help and she had me right under her nose.

There were eight of us and I recognized Kim Remley of Albion, who I learned as the afternoon wore on was already a painter.

Pat began unpacking stacks of magazines and spread them out on the table, telling us all to come and pick out several. Then we were to go through them and tear out pages with images which appealed to us. Our first art lesson was going to be collage.

Pat said she decided to do this kind of class because she had done oil painting and watercolors and wanted to try something new. This was a jumping-off point for anything else we might want to do, she said.

Photo by Ginny Kropf: This artistic creation is mostly a collage created by Ginny Kropf, who admits she has little artistic ability. She shared her meager attempt at collage in the Cobblestone Museum’s Sunday painters’ class. Three classes remain.

“You may want to stamp it or stencil it,” Pat said. “It’s good to switch things up a bit. It could be surrealistic or it could tell a story – whatever inspires you.”

I love to cook, so the first thing I saw in the magazine I grabbed was a full-size picture of a pineapple upside down cake. Then a display of multi-colored peppers caught my eye, along with a couple of photos of lobsters. Pat began telling us about color and how we could choose a theme or things of the same color. I seemed to be drawn to things which were yellow and orange – although green is my favorite color.

The first thing we were supposed to do was choose a board – our blank canvas. Pat poured out a little green paint in a tiny paper cup, handed me a brush and told me to paint the entire background. I slathered the paint on so thick it wasn’t dry 45 minutes later, so we stood it on the floor in front of the register.

As we worked, Pat was giving us instructions or suggestions on how to proceed. She suggested tearing out our pictures instead of cutting them to give a more interesting edge. After deciding where we were going to place our pictures, we applied the decoupage and using a straight piece of cardboard, smoothed out the wrinkles.

Seated next to me was Joy Merriman of Waterport, who I soon learned was not a novice, but works in collage with fabric and paint. She had found a picture of a large red bird with giant plumes and massive tail feathers. She began cutting the bird apart and I soon saw her creation take shape.

“It reminds me of decoupage we did in Girl Scouts,” Joy said. “It’s fun to try something new.”

I wanted to try and create texture on my board by using a plastic leaf Pat provided. I held the leaf down like she said and started brushing the paint over it, but when I picked the leaf off, all I had was smudges of paint. So I started pasting my pictures over it in random fashion.

Pat suggested I try to fill in around my pictures by brushing in the spaces with a little paint. So I guess you could say I did paint.

I was put to shame, however, when I saw Kim Remley’s creation. She had decoupaged a dog right in the middle of her board, standing upright on all four legs. Then she painted around him to make it appear he was coming out of fog or clouds. Her talent as a painter was obvious.

As I watched the other women work, I realized how un-artistic I really am. But I’m not going to give up and I promised Doug I’d be back for the next class and whatever that brings.

I see the March class is on “drawing” words, and words are right up my alley, so I’m looking forward to making a better impression in that class.

There are still openings for the remaining classes on the last Sunday of February, March and April, and anyone can sign up by calling the museum at 589-9013 or e-mailing Each class will feature a different art form.

Pat promises everyone will start with a blank canvas and go home with a completed work of art.

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