For more than 40 years, members of the Order of the Golden Brush have been meeting weekly at the St. James City Civic Association to share painting tips and techniques.
Named by members in the 1970s, then treating instructor Gladys Stroud to a luncheon, this friendly painting group continues to offer a welcoming atmosphere for novice and accomplished artists.
"It seemed like many were approaching their golden years, so it sounded like a good idea for a name," said early member Margaret Felt. "Why, my father even started painting with Gladys."
Stroud, now deceased, guided the painters for over 30 years before moving back to Toronto to be closer to her family.
According to Linda Selleck, newcomers to the Golden Brush often hear heart-warming stories and memories of Stroud, who encouraged everyone to discover the artist within through her supportive and knowledgeable comments as they met the challenges of light, color and shadow in their works.
Today's members continue the tradition of creating a welcoming environment for experienced and novice artists. Skills and ideas are shared, resources are identified and posed questions are given respectful answers.
"I am so busy on Pine Island, I wouldn't find time to paint without Golden Brush... and I love the people!" said Sue Arnold.
Newcomer Lillian Toolan said, "Thought I knew a little about art, but have learned more ever since I started coming to this friendly and helpful group."
"This is the first time I ever picked up a brush. The first step was just getting a few brushes and paint, which members helped me with. A great group for a beginner," added Sherri Snydar.
Experienced artist Corine Beving finds Golden Brush, "a great place to get acquainted with people in our community who share the love of art and color. Artists are happy people and fun to be with!"
Honora Seidler said, "It's a good mix of professional artists and those that walk in off the street."
"I love coming here on Tuesdays," commented Jeannie Hopkins. "I'm learning new things and enjoy meeting new friends."
Betty Rasmussen, influenced by Stroud in the one year in her class, still finds Golden Brush, "a great group that inspires you to paint. I have never been a great artist and no one will probably ever see my work in a gallery. I do this for the fun and entertainment of it."
"We call ourselves 'golden brushes,' but the brushes are silver lining behind the wonderful golden members," said Cynthia Harrris.
"Keeping with the intent of the early members, we welcome those who wish to explore their inner artist capabilities. Whether you are in your golden, or not quite, golden years, we encourage you to bring your favorite medium and discover a supportive and inviting atmosphere to play with brushes and paints," said Selleck.
Although Selleck is often called the "cheerleader" for the group, Melissa Myers, MaryAnn Harms and Lynn Sarda share tasks throughout the year.
The Order of the Golden Brush meets year round on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the St. James City Civic Association building on Fourth Avenue and Lemon Street in St. James City.