By Matt Harrelson
ELLERBE — Seniors need to stay active in life, and one way that’s possible is through art.
About six months ago, John Moore, a retired DEA agent, called Judy Tyndall, director of the Ellerbe Senior Center, and asked if he could come over to the center. He brought some of his art with him and told Tyndall he’d like to teach an art class.
The answer was obvious.
“Yes, yes, yes,” Tyndall recalled.
“They start with the basics and then progress,” said Moore during a class on Wednesday. “This adds something to your life. Gives you something to look forward to.”
“It also give me something to look forward to. I’m retired too,” added Moore, a former art instructor at Anson Community College.
Moore is a self-taught artist who began learning his craft at the age of 14.
“I would ask for the paint left over after house painters were done,” Moore said. “I would do landscape paintings with the water colors.”
Moore also likes to knock on people’s doors and ask them if he can take pictures of their house. If they say no then he doesn’t do anything. But if they say yes, he’ll take pictures, take them home for a couple of months, draw and paint the house and then give the owners the painting free of charge.
“I haven’t had one day of professional training,” said Moore.
That part is tough to tell as Moore works with his senior students as they learn different techniques to painting. The class, which started in August,began with simply drawing, then moved on to adding color with chalk and then on to water coloring which is more difficult. The students have to start with the light colors first when use water color paint, said Moore.
The four students are always asking questions and Moore is always answering by showing them different brush strokes or when to add water and ways to make the painting their own. Moore gives advice when needed but mostly encourages everyone to have fun and do it their way.
“It’s your painting, your drawing,” Moore tells the class. “I’m just here to teach you the technique.”
All the students responded positively when asked what made them want to try an art class.
“I just really wanted to try it,” said Edith Poff and Connie Asbury.
“I took a class or two in school,” said Irene Jernigan. “I’ve always enjoyed oil painting.”
“Judy encouraged me to do it,” said Lois Allen.
Moore does all this for free of charge and all supplies are paid for by himself or the class. Moore and Tyndall want the community to know that these services exist. The Ellerbe art class became so popular that Moore now teaches an art class for Rockingham seniors at the East Rockingham Senior Center on Sixth Street.
Moore has tried to give his Ellerbe group every different kind of visual art to practice with from drawing a boot and a paper bag to chalk drawings of stuffed animals.
“This has been a really good group to work with,” said Moore. “I try to push them a little more each time. They’ve learned a lot.”
The Ellerbe Senior art class meets every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. at the Ellerbe Senior Center at the Lions Club, 306 Millstone Road, Ellerbe.