Marshfield artists delighted to see how gardeners make the paintings bloom


Seaside gardeners make floral arrangements inspired by paintings at senior centers

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MARSHFIELD — It was one of the best days Rich Cal said he’s had in a long time.

After spending much of the past year in hospital and rehab, Cal arrived early at Marshfield Senior Center where one of his paintings from Fred Dolan’s art group was included in the annual exhibition “Art in Bloom”.

Cal, in a wheelchair, was eager to see how his oil painting of a lighthouse and seagulls, seen from afar on the water, had been interpreted by a member of the Seaside Gardeners, a gardening club in Marshfield.

Planter Deb Lehman, from Duxbury, chose Cal’s painting to interpret it with flowers, “because I love the complementary colors of orange and blue he used. It also reminded me of Bug Light, and it’s a late summer scene.”

“I feel blessed,” Cal said when he saw how Lehman used blue bachelor buttons, yellow dahlias and orange canna lilies with natural grasses to mirror the colors and shapes in his painting.

“She did a wonderful job. It fits perfectly. After being in the hospital for so long, I was finally able to come back to class here with my friends. And now seeing this really helps.”

Cal, who has been painting at the center for 12 years, volunteers at the Marshfield Fair, where he will have an artist’s table in the farm building on Friday, August 19.

The senior center’s annual Art in Bloom show, held last Tuesday and Wednesday, is a popular summer event. It is inspired by the annual event of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which held its 46th Art in Bloom in April. The Plymouth Center for the Arts, local libraries, other art groups and museums have also taken up the idea in recent years with their own “blossoming art” and “blossoming books” events.

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This year, 34 paintings from multiple art programs at Marshfield Senior Center were entered into the exhibit.

The gardeners chose the works of art they wanted to interpret. They used flowers and plants from their gardens and natural settings to reflect the colors, shapes, textures and themes they saw in the artwork.

The event is also popular for the creative connections it creates between artists and gardeners, as Beth Cook of Marshfield discovered.

Cook chose to interpret a painting by John Murray of half a dozen artists’ brushes in a vase.

“I really love painting and I thought of things that looked like paintbrushes but weren’t exact,” she said.

“It’s monarda, lemon balm. And those grasses are in bloom right now – I have them in my garden.” She bought some protea to bring out the burgundy color in the brush stems.

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His goal: to create something “nice and similar, but not a replica of the painting. It came together once I started playing with it”.

The most rewarding part was “putting the flowers together in a cohesive theme. It’s fun looking at the photos and thinking how I could do it (with flowers) a little differently.”

Murray was so pleased with what Cook did that he gave him the painting.

Sometimes gardeners and artists stand by their entrances and listen to comments from passers-by. “It’s very satisfying for me, especially when I hear other people say they see it the way I see it,” Cook said.

Participating in the exhibition motivates both the artists and an occasional gardener to continue painting. “I’ve always wanted to try painting, and now I think I could,” Cook said.

Sheila Connors, past president of Seaside Gardeners, started the event in 2008 with retired volunteer art teacher Marcia Ballou.

This year’s show included a tribute to the Ukrainian people, with several paintings of sunflowers, “In Support of Ukrainian Sunflowers”. Gardener Jean Leahy brought this year’s bountiful sunflowers from her garden “to honor the Ukrainian people”.

Carol Hamilton, director of the senior center, said she and her staff are working hard to encourage new activities.

The senior center offers many choices for art instruction and fellowship: an Art Studio on Tuesdays led by Joan Herman, a drop-in watercolor class on Fridays with Gail Loik and Betty Rogers, the Imagination class in Painting by Fred Dolan on Tuesdays and Free and Easy Painting on Fridays and Learn to Draw with Tess Webber on Thursdays. This fall, Jeanne Broulette will also offer Watercolor basics for beginners.

For more information, call 781-834-5581, drop by the center at 230 Webster St. or visit the website of the center for the elderly.

Contact Sue Scheible at [email protected]

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