2011 My Wustum Story – 2nd Place

-by Doris Liesner

A friend and I took the same art class at Wustum and came away with very unique perspectives. The more I watched Jan’s painting skills develop, the more I realized I enjoyed very different aspects of the class. Learning to evaluate the focal point, the blending of colors, strokes and shades, enhanced my being a noticer of all things. Each night after class, I spent mere seconds showing my spouse what I’d created, and much more enjoyed sharing in detail about the teacher, class techniques and my experiences with various classroom characters.

Just as a splash of color put life into a dark flat shadow, I could visualize the right words bringing hope in a dark situation, expunging the sad or sinister parts of life. Studying the many shades of color I’d previously thought of only as gray birthed the fulfillment of longing to describe the myriad of green shades in a patch of sunlit forest, and ironically, confirmed that painting would never be my first love.

Exiting Wustum after our last class, Jan asked in the way one does when you hope someone enjoyed a treat as much as you have, “Will you continue painting?” She shuddered when I replied, laughingly, that I’d rather be at my computer, writing about it, while I felt liberated to paint with words. Jan’s brush created beautifully detailed individual and family portraits, whereas I began illustrating life with words for Prime Magazine and Chicken Soup stories.

Our teacher, rather than be discouraged with the reality that few students would likely follow his footsteps, nurtured each of us without pressure, to be adventurous developing individual artistic abilities. We each left armed with knowledge, new perspectives, and inspiration to create with what we’d learned. Thanks Wustum. That’s what community learning is all about.