Community Correspondent: Mary Johnson-Green on Art Clubs in Leeds

Back to Art or into Art, Leeds has a lot to offer

My involvement with Art Clubs started more than 20 years ago when I was working full time, juggling work with family life. The local Art Club was my bolt hole. A place to relax. I joined as an enthusiastic amateur who had not painted since school days. Along the way I gained lots of experience, many acquaintances and some very good friends. Now I am a carer for my husband who has MND, I spend most of my eight hours respite care per week painting, mainly at the Art Club.

Many Art Club members start painting much later in life. Shirley for example who didn't start till years after she retired: "A friend suggested I join and so I did. Now I'm hooked and painting is a major part of my life."

Another, Dorothy, stated that she joined when she moved to a new area and didn't know anybody and found it was a good way to make friends: "That was over 10 years ago. I know I will never be a great painter but it's an interesting hobby and I've certainly made friends." 

Malcolm, who joined in his 70s also finds the social aspect of the club good. Julie started painting after leaving work and following a family bereavement adds that one of the things she likes about painting is the fact that she relaxes so much when involved with art.

It would be wrong of me to give the impression that club members can't really paint and go along just for the company. Lots become very proficient and sell paintings at the local art exhibitions and galleries both here and abroad. Also, they are open to all age groups. 

Some of the clubs were established over 50 years ago, for example Menston, Horsforth and Farsley. Others are held in community and church halls. A list of clubs can be found at farsleyartclub.wordpress.com/art-groups 

This list may not be definitive but will give you an idea of just how many clubs there are in Leeds. Many of the clubs have their own websites and members work can be seen. 

If you are thinking that you are not good enough, remember that these skills can be learned and many of the clubs hold workshops and demonstrations to help your development and there are usually experienced artists on hand to give you a few tips. Meanwhile I must get back to my latest masterpiece. 

Happy painting!

Mary Johnson-Green

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