How to find (and share) your inner artist
One day, on a whim, Martha Weiss, 76, a retired psychiatric social worker living in Washington, D.C., wandered into an art studio and signed up for a class.
“Painting was something I had never done in my life,” she said. “I didn’t even think I could draw.”
Slowly, with the support of other new painters in her class, she found that creating art was soothing.
“Most of the time your mind is wandering or you’re worrying about this or that, but when I was sitting there painting it was totally involving, so that was great. We say in our group that this is our therapy.”
Weiss entered one of her works in the Beacon’s Celebration of the Arts contest last year and, to her surprise, was awarded an honorable mention in the Painting and Drawing division. She was one of three winners and 12 honorable mentions selected from among 418 entries.
“It was amazing that, at an older age, I was recognized for something. In my whole life I don’t think I was ever recognized individually,” she said. “It’s like, ‘Wow, I’m good at something!’”
In anticipation of the Beacon’s Celebration of the Arts 2020 competition, which begins accepting entries in January, we contacted some of the winners and honorable mentions from last year’s inaugural competition.
The experience was overwhelmingly positive for the entrants, who enjoyed seeing their art displayed for a month at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery in downtown D.C., during December 2018.
D.C. resident Victor Dyni, 88, was pleasantly surprised to win a third-place award for his stained-glass art. His “Lady in Glass” was one of 172 entries in the Sculpture/Jewelry/Pottery/Mixed Media category.
“It was quite a surprise and very exciting,” Dyni said of his win. Dyni retired as chief music librarian for the D.C. Public Libraries in the 1990s, and since then has taken time to explore various forms of art, including writing poetry.
Though he has been playing the piano since the age of 10 (and still performs today, mostly for local retirement communities), he said, “I never thought of myself as a creative person” until he branched out into the fine arts.
Art has always been part of life for Donna Battle, 64, a longtime D.C. resident who won an honorable mention in the 3-D/Mixed Media category of the Beacon’s Celebration of the Arts for her collage “Autumn Evening.” Since then, Battle has continued adding on to her series of collages of urban architecture.
She recalls her modest start with art: “I started it in elementary school. They would always ask me to help out making the bulletin boards,” Battle said. She attended McKinley High School and completed its art program before heading to Howard University.
Battle has started making greeting cards based on her artwork. Now she is scouting around for inspiration for her next creations. “I have to think of some other type of series to do,” she said.
Like Battle, Weiss plans to submit other pieces in January’s competition. Whether she wins or not isn’t the point, she said. She likes having the inspiration to produce art.
She also encourages other retirees to give art a chance. “Find the right [class], where you’re not threatened, where people aren’t competing with each other, where you’re just there to see what you can do and nobody cares.
“That’s an unusual thing in life. We always feel like we’re being judged. You work for 35 years and you’re constantly being judged and having to perform,” Weiss said.
Weiss considers herself “lucky” to have found the art studios and a new, enriching hobby.
“For me it was a totally new experience, the painting and especially winning something.”
2018 Celebration of the Arts
First Place: Vella Kendall, Monkton, Md.
Second Place: Rich Isaacman, Edgewater, Md.
Third Place: Richard Weiblinger, Laurel, Md.
Beth Altman, Washington, D.C.
Brad Balfour, Potomac, Md.
Margaret Ann Chambers, Upper Marlboro, Md.
Judith Ann Guenther, Springfield, Va.
David Allen Harris, Washington, D.C.
James Francis Hollan, Arnold, Md.
Philip Kanter, Pikesville, Md.
Addison Newton Likins, La Plata, Md.
Rodney Errol Mathis, Oxon Hill, Md.
Nan Thompson, Nottingham, Md.
First Place: Nathalie Pouliquen, Bethesda, Md.
Second Place: Michael Smith, Columbia, Md.
Third Place: Victor Peter Dyni, Washington, D.C.
Lorraine Arden, Washington, D.C.
Donna J. Battle, Washington, D.C.
Jennifer L. Blake, Columbia, Md.
Norman Frederick Estrin, Silver Spring, Md.
Addison Newton Likins, La Plata, Md.
Nathalie Pouliquen, Bethesda, Md.
Sarah Lee Province, Silver Spring, Md.
Christopher Ruch, Ebony, Va.
Richard Starr, Crofton, Md.
Sharon Lee Weinstein, Ellicott City, Md.
Edward C. Wlodarczak, N. Potomac, Md.
John J. Yeager, Perry Hall, Md.
First Place: Clara Herner, Silver Spring, Md.
Second Place: Cecilia Capestany, Alexandria, Va.
Third Place: Nathalie Pouliquen, Bethesda, Md.
John Anderson, Beltsville, Md.
Brenda Claiborne, Fort Washington, Md.
Virginia Gordon, Cockeysville, Md.
Roselyn Harding, Baltimore, Md.
Benjamin A. Jackson, Silver Spring, Md.
Karla Kombrink, Alexandria, Va.
Loretta Lechlider, Silver Spring, Md.
Mary Jane McKee, Potomac, Md.
Perry Dale Skaggs, Mechanicsville, Va.
Diana Ulanowicz, Elliott City, Md.
Steven Marshall Waugh, Fallston, Md.
Martha Weiss, Washington, D.C.
First Place: Liliana Dossola, McLean, Va.
Second Place: Kathleen F. Powers, Springfield, Va.
Third Place: Thomas Stephens Corbit, Olney, Md.
Rita Alston, Washington, D.C.
Sidney Louise Brown, Alexandria, Va.
Jack Calman, Silver Spring, Md.
Henry E. Crawford, Silver Spring, Md.
Karen Whitney Curry, Washington, D.C.
Margarita Magdalena Dilone, Washington, D.C.
Eugene C. Harter, Salisbury, Va.
Addison Newton Likin, La Plata, Md.
Kathleen Loverde, Baltimore, Md.
Stephen G. Smith, Odenton, Md.
Martha Wessells Steger, Midlothian, Va.
Douglas C. Taylor, Silver Spring, Md.