By Adolphus Ames —
The Eastern Shore Art League held an art enrichment day this past Saturday at the Historic Onancock School. The event was funded by United Way and divided into two sessions. One from 10 a.m. to noon for high school students ages 12 to 14 and another from 1 to 3 p.m. for students ages 15 to 17.
“We wanted to try something new,” said Carol Barylski, ESAL secretary and event organizer and instructor. “We used to host annual student art exhibits featuring work students completed in their high school art classes. COVID prevented that from happening last year. So, we decided to switch things up and offer an enrichment day for the kids instead.”
During both sessions, Barylski walked students through various painting techniques, including how to double load colors and properly use rubber cement. Then the students created their own artwork using these techniques.
“I really want the students to see that painting is all about the process not the product,” she said. “Creativity doesn’t come when you are overthinking things or overly neat.”
Barylski, a New Jersey native, has had a love affair with painting since her early youth. “I’ve been painting since my mom put a crayon in my hand,” she said. She attended Rutgers University and studied art history and studio art and then worked as an art teacher in Medford, N.J. before moving to the Eastern Shore 30 years ago.
Dottie Troxler, another ESAL member and Chincoteague resident, also developed an interest in art early in life. “Although I’ve always been interested, I didn’t take any art classes in school,” she said. “Truthfully, I have only been painting for 15 years and joined the art league in 2008. I paint a lot of landscapes and practice in plein air, which is sort of like painting outside in the moment.”
Troxler sells her work to venues such as Lemon Tree Gallery and the Eastern Shore Yacht & Country Club. She and Barylski, like the rest of the art league, are dedicated to promoting the visual arts throughout the Shore. Since the league was formed in 1977, its goal has been to welcome artists of all skill and experience levels and form a network of people interested in creating and learning about art.
The rich network was one of several factors that convinced April Flory, graphic designer and former art league president, to move from New York to the Eastern Shore nine years ago.“We loved the beauty of the Shore and noticed there was an active art scene, so we knew we could make a home here,” Flory said. “Being in this type of environment motivates and inspires you creatively.”
The league frequently hosts paint-outs, exhibits, workshops, presentations, and holiday luncheons for its members in and around Onancock. There have been discussions of hosting more events that are beneficial to the general public, including a weeklong art camp that focuses on a specific medium such as sculpting.
“We really want to bring art to the Shore and particularly bring it to the attention of the youth and foster their creativity,” said Barylski. “Members of rural communities often don’t have proper access to the artistic networks found in more urban areas. We certainly want to change that.”