Get creative in the Conservatory: It’s never too late to learn with Lifelong Recreation

Summer program registration opens May 20

Artist Lisa Snow Lady, left, leads a tour through the Volunteer Park Conservatory where she is teaching a Lifelong Recreation class this spring.

 

Last year Mary Hsu was traveling in Japan when she came across a woman sightseeing with an open sketch pad in front of her.

“She was making the most beautiful drawings,” Hsu said. “I thought to myself, I want to do that.”

Last week, Hsu was at the Volunteer Park Conservatory for a sketching and watercolor course taught by artist Lisa Snow Lady. The class, offered through Seattle Parks and Recreation Lifelong Recreation, teaches participants how to document their individual journeys through drawings and paintings.

Snow Lady is a visual artist and has a degree in ornamental horticulture. She said teaching a class in Volunteer Park is a perfect way to draw on all of her strengths.

“I want the class to be loose sketching, like you’re traveling,” Snow Lady said. “We have plenty of places to explore right here: the Cactus House, the Palm House. We can pretend we’re somewhere exotic.”

Participant Linda Pauw earned an art degree in college and recently started drawing again.

“I have seen Lisa’s travel sketchbooks, and I’m in awe of them,” Pauw said.

Lifelong Recreation participant Shari Congdon practices sketching a tulip during a warm up exercise.

Many of the students have past artistic experience and are looking to sharpen their skills. Student Pam Generaux taught art for 30 years in Seattle schools but had never received formal watercolor training.

“I love being a part of a class and exchanging ideas,” Generaux said.

Generaux demonstrates that it’s never too late to learn a new skill or improve an existing talent. The Lifelong Recreation course is designed to be a relaxed atmosphere where people can feel comfortable exploring their surroundings.

“It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake,” Snow Lady said. “It’s just paper, and it’s just ink.”

Snow Lady requires participants to use pens for sketching so they’re not tempted to erase and work under the constraints of perfection.

This class, which is also offered in the Japanese Garden, was created three years ago. Lifelong Recreation Specialist Cheryl Brown said she’d like to see participation increase.

“This is one of the few opportunities we have to use these venues,” she said. “This has been a great partnership that has opened up the doors of these beautiful specialty spaces to artists of all kinds.”

Student Shari Congdon said the location was one thing that drew her to the class.

“What a great opportunity to come to a beautiful place and sketch.”

Another art course held in the Japanese Garden and Volunteer Park will be offered this summer.

Lifelong Recreation offers a wide range of fitness and social programs designed for people 50 years or older; however, this specific art class is open to anyone over 18. Summer registration opens on May 20.