Budding artist no longer brushes off urge to paint

Published 11:25 am Saturday, June 23, 2018

by Wendy Harrison

Move over Monet. There’s a new landscape artist in town.

Charlotte McKeller has a newfound talent and love of painting after enrolling in the Encore Learning program at the PDCCC Workforce Development Center. Paintings, from left, are titled, “Mountain Reflections,” “Waterfall in the Woods,” “Freezing Lake,” and “Passion Flow.” The painting she is holding is called “Floral Bouquet.” — Submitted | Wendy Harrison

Charlotte McKeller, now 66, has discovered a newfound talent after enrolling in the Encore Learning program at the Paul D. Camp Community College’s Regional Workforce Development Center three years ago.

“My friend, Marguerite Leathers, told me about the program. I have taken many classes there since, such as genealogy, film studies, stamp collecting, card making, early Alzheimer’s

detection, cancer awareness, coffee tasting, fun and games, adult coloring, and of course, painting.”

McKeller always knew she had some creative talent. In fact, even in grade school, she fared well with art projects.

“I doodled, and eventually sketched some, but I really used my creativity as an adult when I was a professional hair stylist, owning my own salon for a few years,” she recalled. “Styling hair is creating a work of art that complements a client’s appearance and makes them happy.”

When she retired in 2010, McKeller couldn’t find any local painting classes in which to enroll. There were also none offered initially in the Encore program. When Director Teri Zurfluh asked for the participants’ input on classes for the next semester, McKeller made the obvious suggestion.

“For many years, I have dreamed of learning to paint!” she said. “After painting a red cardinal in our first class, I was hooked. With each class, my paintings began looking better and better, and I began gaining confidence in myself as a painter.”

The Brushstrokes instructor, Twyla Duke, was impressed with the class, particularly the progress made by McKeller, who asked Duke to make a list of what she would need to set up her own studio in her home.

“She brought in her first big painting of a mountain scape and lake that she had completed at home,” said Duke. “We were all in awe of her painting and she was so thrilled at the way it turned out. Although she told me it was because of the techniques that I taught her in class, I cannot teach anyone how to paint, just offer a little guidance. I am so proud of Charlotte for stepping out.”

McKeller now spends some time each day in her new studio at home. She loves to watch the tutorials of her favorite artist, the late Bob Ross, and much like her inspiration, likes to paint landscapes, mountains and reflections. She also enjoys creating floral works. Currently, her medium of choice is acrylic, although sometime later she would like to try her artistic hand at watercolor.

“If it were not for the Encore Learning program, Teri and Twyla, I would not have my own studio and would not know how to paint,” she said. “Thanks to the Encore Program for helping my dream of painting come true and enriching my life. It is never too late to begin a new chapter.”

For more information about the Encore Learning program at PDCCC, log onto www.pdc.edu/workforce-development/encore-learning/ or call 569-6062.

[Editor’s note: Readers can also learn more about the program in the summer edition of Western Tidewater Living, now available in The Tidewater News during business hours 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or call 562-3187 about obtaining a copy.]

WENDY HARRISON is the public relations specialist for Paul D. Camp Community College. She can be reached at wharrison@pdc.edu.