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Sharing the gift of creativity

Greenspring resident forms a new visual arts group

Created date

April 3rd, 2017
Two impressionistic landscape paintings by Greenspring community members.

Greenspring resident Patricia Warren’s painting Lake Anna (at left) and Greenspring Visual Arts Group founder Virginia Fernbach’s painting Blissful. Both paintings received honorable mentions at the 2016 Leading Age Virginia Art Show.

“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.”  —Pablo Picasso

Encouraging artists and those who have yet to realize their artistic potential, Virginia Fernbach recently formed a new visual arts group at Greenspring, the Erickson Living community in Springfield, Va., where she lives.

“When I moved to Greenspring in September 2015, I met many artists living here and noticed that there were quite a few different art groups,” she says. “I wanted to build on what was in place and create a group that provides residents opportunities to do, learn, and share with others in our dynamic community.”

Under Virginia’s leadership, the Visual Arts Group (V.A.G.) works diligently to develop activities and resources for residents who are artists or who have an interest in the visual arts. The group sponsors art classes and workshops, partners with Greenspring on docent-led museum tours, and supports the resident art wall and annual art show.

“As a child I enjoyed sketching, but it was something I put aside for my career,” she says. “Retirement is a great time to go back and develop artistic talents. I now enjoy working with watercolor, acrylics, and ink. It is my hope that the V.A.G. will help encourage others to explore their creative side.”

Learning by example

Developing art classes for experienced as well as novice artists is an integral part of the V.A.G.’s efforts. In recent months, the group has offered classes in watercolor, oil painting, sketching, and a group studio class.

Virginia identifies and selects high-quality instructors from throughout the local artistic community. 

“It’s important to find the right instructor,” she says. “We want to make sure we are providing residents with quality teaching at a pace that is beneficial to everyone.”

While many instructors come from outside of Greenspring, classes are also offered by skilled resident artists. Community member Penny Showell offers a workshop in sumi-e, the Japanese term for ink painting. 

“We paint using special bamboo brushes and ink on rice paper,” says Penny. “Masters of the medium speak of having ‘chi’ or energy in each brush stroke. Typically, the subject is an aspect of nature and is ‘about’ the subject rather than an explicit example.”

Time to explore

Because, according to Virginia, “it is important to the development of an artist to see as well as to do,” members of the V.A.G. work with Greenspring Special Events Coordinator Robin LeGrand to provide docent-led museum trips to members of the community.

“This was something that came out of our first discussions as a group,” says Virginia. “There are so many wonderful museums in the Washington, D.C., area. We felt that arranging a skilled docent to lead tours of various museums would provide a wonderful learning opportunity for all of us.”

Recently, the group visited the home and art studio of early twentieth-century American artist Gari Melchers and his wife Corinne Mackall in Falmouth, Va. The couple’s estate, known as Belmont, is home to many of Melchers’ works as well as those of his wife, a respected painter.

“Our group found it very interesting to see his work displayed in the rooms where he and Corinne lived, as well as in a separate building on lovely grounds” says Virginia. “Because there were no heirs to the Melchers’ estate, the entire home remains furnished just as it was when they passed away. It is a veritable time capsule from 1932.” 

Other recent V.A.G.-sponsored trips include tours of the Phillips Collection, the National Geographic Museum, and the Kreeger Museum.

Sharing with others

In addition to providing learning opportunities for Greenspring residents, the V.A.G. strongly supports the sharing of artist’s works both on the art wall in Hunters Crossing Clubhouse, the annual community-wide art show, and local art contests. 

Last year, numerous Greenspring artists received awards for their work at the Leading Age Virginia Art Show. 

“Greenspring is a gifted community,” says Virginia. “I’m both encouraged by my fellow artists and excited about future opportunities to bring art to many others, including those who may not have explored their creative side.”