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Peterborough: Life lessons at painting class

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Elijah Chui, 6, of Peterborough, works on a winter scene during Paint Night.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • The Rev. Bob Marrone leads a Paint Night class at the Union Congregational Church on Jan. 12.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, January 19, 2017 6:51AM

The great painter Henri Matisse once said the essential thing about painting is to “put oneself in a frame of mind which is close to that of prayer.” Rev. Bob Marrone’s Paint Nights might not yield many Matisses, he assures his class. But in the act of putting the brush to paint, and paint to canvas, there’s a lot to learn about yourself.

“The creation of art is fundamentally part of what it is to be human and to be made in the image of God,” said Marrone. “Nothing that we do here is going to show up in a museum. The point is you did it, you engaged in a process of creativity.”

Marrone, a Reverend at the Peterborough Union Congregational Church, who completed his doctorate on visuals as part of worship, said he is continually looking for and thinking about ways to change the way people think about worship space.

“For many people, art is an avenue to spirituality,” he said.

So, when he heard about another church doing “Paint Nights” where participants create a piece of art following along an instructor held at another church, he knew it was something he wanted to see come to his community as well. The themes go in line with the four seasons or local landmarks – flowers in May, Mount Monadnock at night, a wintry scene – or the theological season, and the efforts of the participants go up in the sanctuary so that worshippers are surrounded by artwork that adds color and life to the church’s worship space.

Marrone, an artist himself, leads the class, standing at its head and creating a piece that the rest of the class copies – as closely or as loosely as they like.

“I don’t think it matters if you’re talking about being creative in painting or writing or making a spreadsheet – learning to be creative is a process that’s positive across a wide range of human activity. Human beings are by nature creative,” said Marrone. “If we try to take that out of people, we lose out.”

Marrone’s class is open to all ages. He’s had at least one child at each session he’s run over the past year, since they first began. But plenty of adults also join in, and the oldest participant was in her 90s. Often, said Marrone, they have no experience in the act of putting paint on canvas, but few let that give them pause for very long.

“I think that people who have no experience painting are in the same boat, no matter what their age,” said Marrone. “There are some differences in the way that they respond to directions, but in terms of ability, it can be tough to tell the childrens’ works from the adults’ sometimes. Art’s a great equalizer that way.”

So Marrone’s paint nights are very clearly not about the artist’s level of ability or the end product, but about exploring and having fun. One young artist, about 8-years-old, wasn’t satisfied with the thinness of the lines her brush was producing, so dipped a pencil in paint and used it to draw on the canvas. It’s that kind of out-of-the box thinking that Marrone likes to see explored. And two people painting the same picture, sitting next to each other, might put the paint on the canvas in two completely different ways.

“The arts bring us to a place that’s very different than anything else,” said Marrone. “So many people are told they can’t draw or paint, and there’s a real sadness to that. Everybody can do it. Everybody.”

Paint nights are held twice a month every other month. The next Paint Night is Saturday at 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the UCC in Peterborough. Class sizes are limited. Contact the church office at 924-3272 to sign up. The cost of the class is $10. All materials are provided.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.