Painters learn from each other at Howes House

Nancy Holt works on her painting of the Dalai Lama at the Howes House art show. —Sophia McCarron

Officially a teenager, the Friday painting class at Up-Island Council on Aging at Howes House in West Tisbury held its 13th annual art show over the weekend.

The class is open and unstructured; participants are allowed to paint what they want to paint in any medium, aside from oil. There were pieces ranging from watercolor to colored pencils, depicting realistic flowers to abstract designs.

“There’s a group of regulars, and then there are the people that float in and out, but it’s a nice fellowship. We become good friends and share ideas, it’s very supportive,” said Nancy Holt, one of the regulars. She, and other members of the class, set up shop in a corner of the space last Friday and were working on their newest paintings.

The casual comfort of the class is promoted by its founder and organizer, Nancy Cabot. Much of her work features flowers or other plant life that she finds all over the Island. “It is what I love and what inspires me to paint,” she said. “We live in such a beautiful spot, and I walk every day and always see things that I would love to paint. I try to bring in things that I can paint from here.” Ms. Cabot tries to keep herself interested in painting by taking classes around the Island that get her to think about her art in a different way. “But because I love to paint nature, it’s always changing. All the time. Time of year, time of day, location, everything about it changes, and I find that fascinating,” she said.

“I always go over to Nancy [Cabot] and ask, ‘What does this need?’ or ‘What do you think of this?’” said Jeri Larson. “I do a lot of abstract stuff, and Nancy will often nail it for me. It’s the reason why so many of us like to come here and paint. When you’re painting by yourself at home, sometimes you get stuck, and the energy of a group is really inspiring, and Nancy is a big part of that.”

Some participants draw inspiration from their lives outside class. Ms. Larson pointed out an abstract piece called “Prelude” that was in celebration of her first grandchild. “It’s something inside me. It’s a feeling that I have. A lot of the things that I was feeling about having a first grandchild turned into this, so, ‘Prelude.’”

The painting class is held at 1 pm on Fridays at Howes House, and is free. No signup required. No oil paints. Open to anyone at any level; bring your own supplies.