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Adults find a beautiful escape as they learn the art of painting

Nan Bunker of Gustine works on a painting during a class at the Artel Art Center in Modesto's McHenry Village on Tuesday, July 8, 2008. Students in the class are currently showing their work at the art center. (Ted Benson / The Modesto Bee)
Nan Bunker of Gustine works on a painting during a class at the Artel Art Center in Modesto's McHenry Village on Tuesday, July 8, 2008. Students in the class are currently showing their work at the art center. (Ted Benson / The Modesto Bee)

Ron Nelson loved art classes in high school, but like so many others, he set his passion aside after graduation.

A year-and-a-half ago, the 65-year-old Ripon resident decided to enroll in art classes at Artel Art Center in Modesto's McHenry Village.

Now, he has two paintings — a European street and a tropical beach scene — featured in the store's first art show.

"I always said, 'someday I want to paint again, when I retire," he said. "I've got the time now."

All the store's adult students were invited to submit up to two paintings created since April for the show.

There are 76 works on display, including portraits of children, sailboats, ocean scenes, grapes, bottles of wine and glasses and cowboys.

Customers are invited to vote for their

favorite with the winner announced at a reception July 26.

Nora Faria, who owns the store with her husband Ed and their daughter Galen Martin, said people have enjoyed looking at the variety of styles and subjects featured in the work. Some say they have trouble choosing a favorite.

"People want to vote for more than one," Faria said.

Artel has offered art classes since 1991 when the store was in downtown Turlock. Courses available now include oil painting, watercolor and acrylics. Some are offered weekly, others are once a month and others are a weekend. Costs run from $46.50 to $85 plus supplies.

While the costs can add up when purchasing brushes, paints and canvas, Faria said the expense is well worth it.

"This is one of the least expensive vacations you can take," she said. "You can escape. You can get lost in this."

The store tried offering children's art classes, but interestingly, adult classes proved much more popular. Many of the students, like Nelson, are retirees.

Dorita Robinson, 62, of Modesto, said she loves studying oil painting with longtime teacher VaLoyce Jensen.

"She doesn't force you to do things her way," she said as she painted a seascape of Point Lobos near Carmel. "You are doing your picture and she gives you advice."

Jensen gives a lesson on a technique and then allows the students to paint whatever they like.

Nelson said it took him awhile to get going but he has learned much from Jensen.

"I've improved quite a lot," he said.

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