Above Barbara Dolle's oil painting of a bear and decorated tree; left, painting teacher Betty Antonio has been working with the Spitzer group for three years.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — It takes patience, passion and perseverance to create a masterpiece.
And some of Betty Antonio's students have waited decades to do it.
The Spitzer Center is currently hosting an exhibit of paintings made over the past three years by a small group of dedicated artists who found their creativity late in life.
"It's just my cup of tea," said Barbara Dolle about her interest in oil painting, the only one in the group to dabble in oils.
Dolle, speaking at Friday's opening reception, said she'd always wanted to paint, and even had a set of oil paints acquired sometime in the 1960s.
Fast forward 40 years, with family raised and time on her hands, she finally got to opening those oils when Antonio "took me under her wings."
"When you see the end results you're just kind of amazed," she said.
Antonio's been teaching painting in multiple mediums for more than 40 years and has created murals and has her works in a number of collections. "I would travel across the country to teach," she said.
After living in San Diego, Riverside, Calif., and Houston, Texas, she came to the Berkshires to live with family in 2004.
She was looking for something to do here and approached the Spitzer Center about possibly teaching painting classes. The first class was a hit and continues to meet Fridays for several hours.
"I started with 16 people and it dwindled down to six people, who stuck with it for three years," she said. "It's good for me and good for them."
She and her son are planning to bring five or six artists to the area to visit and paint. "I think those artists should see the Berkshires," Antonio said.
Sandy Lamb, director of the Spitzer Center, said Antonio is the first painting teacher at the center in 20 years, since Jacqueline Toomey, who now teaches at the Harper Center in Williamstown.
There is still a lot of interest but not much room for classes. "It's hard to find a time and an empty room," Lamb said. Antonio said she's teaching beginners at her home until they can join the more advanced group.
"Betty is an amazing teacher, you know, they love her," said Lamb. "Betty is just so patient and so helpful to them."
Lamb said the exhibit will be up for another month. Some of the pieces had already been sold Friday.
Norman Goodermote has perhaps the most paintings on display. He's been interested in art from a young age and initially took some correspondence courses.
"Then I got married so I put my artist stuff on hold for awhile, raised my family, and now they're all raised, I thought it was time," said Goodermote, who chose Chinese watercolor for his re-entry into painting. "I hadn't really done anything with watercolor and it was one of the things here."
His pieces are primarily New England landscapes and animals, especially birds, and he also does pet portraits from photographs for people. He's printed some of his work on note cards.
"People do different things to unwind. I suppose I've been working all my life," Goodermote said. "It's something different, you can take your time and that's something ... this you can kind of go at your own pace. "If you don't get it done today, there's tomorrow.
"People can look at your work and see you've done something."
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