Mrs. Alicia Sommers is photographed with one of her colorful abstract paintings displayed at the Art Gallery of the Great Oak Clubhouse.

The Artists of Ashby Ponds: Alicia Sommers

Ashburn, Virginia—Alicia Sommers has lived at Ashby Ponds with her husband, Bill, for nearly two years.  The couple moved to the Erickson Living retirement community from Great Falls, Virginia, where they resided for 38 years.

Alicia is an artist whose abstract paintings were displayed this spring in a solo show in the Art Gallery of the Ashby Ponds Great Oak Clubhouse.  She enjoys a variety of media, including acrylic & oil painting, graphite and colored pencils, printmaking, etching and silk screens.  Alicia and Bill list cooking, traveling and visiting museums among their shared interests.

She recently described her journey as an artist for our on-going series about the Ashby Ponds arts community published in the Erickson Living News Room.

Q: Art is your passion, but you were actually musically inclined as a child, correct? 

A: I was born and raised in Albany, New York.  My Grandfather taught me to play on his harp when I was just five years old.  Two years later, I performed in a solo contest!  In fact, that very same harp--my Grandfather’s--is still with us today.

Q: When did your interest in art truly begin?

A: After Bill and I moved to Virginia from southern California, I completed a drawing class which inspired me to earn a Fine Arts degree at NVCC Loudoun.  Subsequently, I got an Information Technology (IT) degree from George Mason University and then worked at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), where I specialized in defense and security IT issues.  

Q: What about abstract painting inspires you?

A: After I retired in 2000, I took my first abstract painting class and realized I very much enjoyed this art form.  I find it offers great freedom, continuing excitement and exceptionally rewarding outcomes.  My paintings express my love of color, texture and movement.  I create acrylic paintings on canvas and paper that explore my visual and emotional reaction to my surroundings.  Abstract art is an invigorating formula for never-ending learning and growth.

Q: Many residents of Ashby Ponds are actively involved in the arts and entertainment.  Why do you like living at the community?

A: Ashby Ponds has so many talented and well-traveled residents, along with a wealth of clubs to join.  I am a member of the garden and genealogy clubs, and take painting classes off campus.  Bill and I are so happy we live at Ashby Ponds.  It is the model retirement community, and I am happy that I can still paint and grow artistically.

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists of any age?

A: It’s really simple.  If you work hard, find a great instructor and enjoy the process, then you can do it!  

About Ashby Ponds: Ashby Ponds, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 132-acre campus in Ashburn, Virginia.  The not-for-profit community of more than 1,475 residents and 550 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of Ashby Ponds.  Additional information can be found at AshbyPonds.com.