Tag: painting

Taking art to new heights

It is hard for me to remember a time that I didn’t love art.


In fact, I have been pencil sketching since I was a kid. Ironically enough, I used to draw pictures of airplanes. Little did I know that after college graduation, I would become a pilot—a profession that would take my sketching skills to new heights.


I flew for Pan American Airways. Traveling internationally for a living, I never left home without my sketchpad. It was my companion during layovers. Together, we ventured to some of the most stunning cities around the world. Sketching primarily with charcoal pencils, I captured the beauty of churches in Frankfort, the Opera House in Vienna, Ireland landscapes and street scenes in Warsaw, Africa and Tokyo.


It wasn’t until the mid-1970s that my love for drawing shifted from pencils to watercolor. My wife, Joy, gave me a watercolor kit. For a while, I just dabbled with it, but then I got serious. I took a couple night classes at a local high school to learn water color techniques. I had tried oil painting and acrylics, but I didn’t find them to be as challenging or have the beauty of watercolor.


Water color is more spontaneous—it has a mind of its own. When you put brush to paper, the color spreads and you never know exactly what you will end up with until the color blends.


For more complex pieces of work, I sometimes include color pencils in the process. Not only are they easy to carry around, but they allow you to add more detail to your painting. Using both colored pencils and water color can help an artist cover a larger surface area, create a more interesting background and develop a more involved painting.


Just as my techniques have changed over time, so have my subjects. There was a period when I drew only sailing ships. Then I went back to airplanes.


However, for the last 20 years, I have primarily focused on landscapes. A recent subject has been Cumberland Crossings’ barn. To me it is a magnetic landmark. [As a resident of Cumberland Crossings,] I walk about the campus property three or four times a week, and often wind up at the barn doing some sort of sketch.


I have done many sketches in various seasons. My most favorite painting of the barn—a summer/spring scene that I did three years ago, I donated it to the campus auction benefiting Cumberland Crossings’ fund. Several residents got together and bid more than $400 for the painting, with the executive director agreeing to hang it in the Davis Dining Room.


Of all the sketches and paintings I have done, that is probably the most special. It makes me feel good when I go to dinner and see my painting. More importantly, I enjoy the fact that it was liked enough to be placed where it could be shared with others.


Last year, I did a small watercolor winter scene of the barn. I printed 100 of them on Christmas cards that were sold in the gift shop to benefit the auxiliary. This year, I had another 100 printed. It was then that Diakon hosted a Christmas card art contest for residents. It turns out I won. It was quite an honor.


Anytime I can share my art with others is a pleasure. Over the years, I have started to sell my paintings and show them at local art shows—including at the Waynesboro and Mechanicsburg Art Centers.


My children and grandchildren have their walls lined with things that I have painted—a bottle nose dolphin, a church in Cumberland, Maryland, and airplanes to name a few. I was recently asked how many pieces of art I have produced. I am really not sure. I have three or four sketch books and completed more than 80 paintings. Some are simplistic—others are more detailed.


I work under Parkinson’s Law—the adage that “work expands as to fill the available time for its completion.” However, normally I sit for about an hour at a time to paint. It is therapeutic and relaxing. It is something you can do to allow your mind to be carried away from personal problems. It is an escape. It definitely keeps me going and gives me a reason to get up in the morning.



—Dale Fernandes, 85

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Making learning a part of really living

When you’ve spent most of your life learning to make a living, how do you make the transition to learning for the simple sake of learning?


For many people older than 50, that’s a familiar situation.


As a result of the learning we’ve done so far, we have been able to provide for our families. But, after a certain age at which we no longer have to worry as much about making a living, or our nest is empty, we may face the question: What do we do now?


Some people will say retirement is about just enjoying life. After all, you’ve earned it!


For others, however, shifting gears is not as easy. We’ve been too busy and feel the need to remain that way.


So how do you begin? How best can you experience new things, meet new friends, try a hobby we have been meaning to for years or, even, share a talent we’ve gained over the years?


That’s the focus of an innovative program I oversee for Diakon Community Services. It’s called Diakon Living & Learning After 50.


For nearly a decade now, the program has offered classes in everything under the sun at sites throughout Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania—workshops on yoga, painting, writing, antiquing, eBay, dancing, scuba diving, learning a new language and a host of other topics.


Our class atmosphere is informal and fun, allowing people to mingle while still focused on learning or teaching.


During this time, I have seen many friendships blossom as a result of attending weekly exercise classes; witnessed participants create a support system or reunite with old friends or co-workers.


I have watched wondrous transformations, as someone stares at a blank canvas, doubt eventually overtaken by a special spark as the person creates a beautiful painting, saying “that’s something I’ve wanted to try for years.”


With this need in mind, we develop our courses, classes, and special events to appeal to as broad a range of interests and abilities as possible.


And all geared to making certain that learning remains a pivotal part of life, even if the focus is more on fun than making a living!

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