Artistic expression: Experienced, emerging artists finding more choices to learn new skills

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Lisa Bowling, left, teaches bead embroidery at the Twenty North Gallery in Greenfield.

GREENFIELD – Experienced artists and those stepping into a new hobby for the first time are finding more choices at a downtown gallery to learn new skills.

The Twenty North Gallery – home of the Hancock County Arts– has offered workshops for years, but new offerings are available and interest seems to be picking up.

“I think people just need something to express themselves, and art is such a joyful piece of our life– easy to express and easy to just have a relaxing time,” said Alice Hedden, president of Hancock County Arts. “You can just relax, you can create, you can be inspired by the other artists that are there too, and the teacher.”

Hancock County Arts was formed in 1996 by artists and friends with a common goal to promote art in Hancock County. The gallery at 20 N. State St. features monthly exhibits and space for learning new techniques.

Hedden said while there were quite a few classes offered prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, courses came to a halt for a couple of years. They’ve been picking up in recent months: in 2024 there have been courses on clay flowers in Valentines tea cups and a “start painting” class for beginners.

Later this month will be a class on beaded feather pendants, and in the spring there will be several painting and watercolor workshops.

“I just think more people are interested in having a joyful time,” Hedden said.

Five new artists took a beginner painting course earlier this month with Greg Gearlds. The acrylic artist who also enjoys working in clay and photography is hoping to offer a beginner class several times this year as a way for people to find a new passion in painting.

“Some people will get almost embarrassed, or they don’t want to ask or they think it’s geared toward young people,” Gearlds said of beginner art classes. “I’d like to open it to anyone who’d start at any point in time.”

Gearlds said his classes go beyond a basic wine-and-canvas style event: he teaches technique and art history as well.

“It’s just getting a little deeper into the fine art world and helping people start to develop their own style of painting,” Gearlds said. “I want it to be more about the actual art and how to be an artist.”

A new following of jewelry makers have joined with teacher Lisa Bowling, a celebrated Hoosier artist who teaches basic techniques for bead embroidery.

And longstanding teacher Mary Ann Davis continues to give lessons on painting to experienced artists.

Davis said she encourages emerging artists to “develop their own voice.”

“The way that I teach, by teaching the fundamentals – it helps them develop their own style,” said Davis, who has been instructing in Greenfield off and on for about 15 years. “I don’t have them just copy my paintings; I really try to push them in their own direction. I love it when the light comes on for someone – it just makes it all worthwhile. And it’s wonderful now when I enter a show, and I see former students winning prizes – it’s fabulous.”

Ultimately, Hedden would like to see even more courses offered, or a bigger space to include more students. She’s open to hearing from anyone in the community who is interested in giving classes too.

“Anyone that’s willing to teach, we’ll be happy to get them in,” she said. “We want more teachers so we can learn more and show off our space and promote the people that are in there.”

For more information or to sign up for classes, visit hancockcountyarts.org, call 317-967-2461 or email [email protected].