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Art Program Helps Seniors Learn Painting, Drawing

When George Nowak heard there was an opening for an art teacher at the New Britain Senior Center, 55 Pearl St., he thought he would apply.
He had been the artist at the New Britain Herald for many years and won many awards. A physical condition stopped him from working full-time, but he needed something to do for a few hours a week.
When he walked into the office of Senior Center Director Mike Karwan, he noticed a drawing on the wall.
“Mike asked if I liked the art work,” remembers Nowak. “I said ‘yes, I drew it’. I was hired on the spot.”
Now Nowak helps teach 6 to 10 students twice a week drawing and painting at the center.
“My work is traditional art,” he said. “Seniors like that.”
“George has opened all sorts of horizons,” said Marie Shea, during a break in the class. “He makes you look at things differently.”
Nowak said anyone interested in art regardless of their abilities is welcome to join.
“We are looking for as many people as we can get to come,” said Nowak. “You don’t have to be good. You just have to be open to getting better.”
For some who cannot draw, Nowak draws an outline and lets the student do the painting.
“He is very encouraging for us. He asks us to do something different that is not in our comfort zone,” said Alice Noury, who is painting a building from a photograph. “We also laugh a lot in class. But, it is good laughter.”
Nowak said all you need to have is a canvas, brushes and an idea.
“If you have an idea of what you want to paint or draw, that is great,” said Nowak. “We supply the paint.”
Some artists bring a photograph or magazine page. Any source for an idea is recommended.
Nowak added that most of his students are self starters. Some just need an opinion about their work. Others are there to have fun.
“Senior citizens need to get out,” said Shea. “When you retire, it’s important to keep busy. I encourage people to come here. They will meet new friends.”
Winter was tough for the class as snow cancelled classes several times. But, most students come back.
“Sometimes people come in here for a month,” said Nowak. “Some stay forever.”
Although the work from students is not on display, Nowak is seeking somewhere to put them. Art in the Heart of City on the second floor of the City Hall is one place the group may look at in the future.
“I just want a secure spot,” Nowak said.
Classes are Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 to 11:30 a.m.
“It really fills their lives with enjoyment,” said Nowak. “Students often tell me, it is the quickest two hours of the day.”
The class is free. For more information call 860-826-3553.
See photos from the class on page 9.