Some seniors of Montgomery express their artistic sides

A group of senior citizens in Montgomery had a chance recently to express their artistic sides at the “Art of the Masters” workshop at the Montgomery Senior Center in Skillman.

The workshop was designed by Creative Notions LLC, and is a part of a series that will be taking place at the center throughout 2012.

The workshops are funded in part from grants as well as from Montgomery Township, according to Community Resource Manager for the Somerset County Office on Aging and Disability Services Denise Crowley.

Crowley explained the importance of the event to the senior citizens.

“I think the fact that they’re using their creativity, it helps to stimulate their mind, their body and their soul,” she said. “They like to come to this program. It’s a great program.”

This month’s workshop focused on the artwork of Franz Kline, an American painter and abstract expressionist who produced black and white paintings.

Kline migrated from Pennsylvania to New York City with his wife, Elizabeth, who was a ballet dancer and model, and struggled to make a living as an artist in the City from 1939 until 1962.

The workshop involved two sections: “Inspire” and “Motivate.”

The first section, “Inspire,” incorporated a brief presentation about Kline’s life and tribulations as an artist. Within the presentation, artist from Creative Notions and teacher of the program Susanne presented works of art Kline produced throughout his life.

She exhibited the transition of his art from realistic to abstract by showing the seniors pieces he created when he was in high school, college and art school.

The second section, “Motivate,” was hands-on, where senior citizens had the opportunity to create their own Kline-inspired abstract paintings.

Susanne led the workshop and encouraged participants to let loose and have fun.

“We’re going to let the music serve as our inspiration,” she said. “It’s not going to be anything realistic. Essentially, you dance with your feet, but we’re going to let our hands do the dancing – and that’s going to capture what our hands are doing on the canvas.”

She led the seniors through five songs from Kline’s time period – Kline would sit in bars in Hoboken and New York City to listen to different types of music for inspiration for his pieces – giving the seniors two new colors to experiment with after each song.

The idea was for the music to guide their panting by moving their brush strokes along the canvases to the beats of each song.

“This type of painting is called action painting, because it’s pure abstract that deals with your own personal emotions and feelings,” Susanne said. “It’s a lot of fun and it’s very therapeutic at the same time.”

After four songs that involved colors, Susanne introduced black and white for the seniors’ last song. This is where they were given a chance to either highlight or add shadowing to their colorful, abstract creations.

“It’s going to represent something very meaningful within your own personal self,” Susanne said.

After the paintings were complete, Susanne had the seniors sign their new pieces. She then framed the paintings for each participant to take home with them.

The seniors that attended enjoyed the combination of music and painting, tapping their feet and swirling their brushes in unison with each song.

“The best part of this is that you don’t have to have any artistic ability to do this program,” Crowley said. “Anybody can do it.”