Activating Creativity

Who could have known how many incredibly curious
and creative students we have at Senior College?

We (Carole Baldwin and Elizabeth Luckraft) have been co-teaching the senior college class on mixed media and creativity for nearly ten years, and we are consistently amazed at how much fun, joy, and spark these students create. Rather than offering a class for “artists,” we offer it to “creative explorers” who work and play with mixed media in a safe environment. Here, there is no right or wrong way to create. Instead, we tap into the creative energy we all have access to—if we just let go, trust ourselves, have fun, support each other, and take a few risks to explore the use of a variety of artistic materials. This atmosphere, by the way, leads to the creation of some unique and cool art as part of the journey!

Making friends, being intellectually stimulated, building confidence, and having fun while learning are all a part of the senior-college experience. We love working with students year after year and seeing this wonderfully creative community grow!

At right are some student perspectives on their experiences as Artistic Explorers in the fall of 2023.

Carole Baldwin and Elizabeth Luckraft

Non-Dominant Hand contour drawings

These drawings were all done using non-dominant hands doing contour drawings (never lifting pencil up) as a way to shift brain processes towards more creative expression.

— Click on each picture to enlarge. — 

More Student Artwork

The artworks, below, were submitted by individual class artists for online display.

— Click on each picture to enlarge. — 

Artistic Explorers

Student Perspectives

Venturing into a mixed-media art class for the first time felt extremely intimidating, but my determination to experience some right-brain exploration won out. And I am glad it did! Not surprisingly, many participants are far more skilled and experienced than I, but their outpouring of support and enthusiasm has been amazing and encouraging! This is true of the instructors as well. A constant source of inspiration, they have been patient, consistently providing positive feedback. I have learned much; perhaps more importantly, I look forward to continuing to explore the wonderful world of art! I shall never rival Matisse or O’Keeffe, but I have learned to see the world differently and appreciate the worth and beauty in all that I create. Thank you for that, Carole and Elizabeth!

~Sue Robinson

Explore creativity! Sounds like fun, and it really is! I have always struggled with considering myself creative. I may be the least experienced person in the class since my last art class was in junior high. Each week, Elizabeth and Carole emphasize that we are in a safe environment. I have learned so much about watercolor pencils, acrylic painting techniques, mixing colors, and making gel and ink prints. My fear of trying something new seems to have melted away in this group of wonderful, creative people. I’m even exploring making and printing cards at home for this holiday season!

~ Stephanie Zurinski

I recently retired and decided to sign up for Elizabeth and Carole’s class—Activating Your Artistic Creativity. This course has opened up a whole new world of possibilities in exploring different media to make and create works of art. I attended art school and never really tapped into my own creativity; I was making art to meet someone else’s expectations and to make money. I am truly having fun in this class, exploring new ways of making art—for me—this time! I really enjoy sharing our creations on the gallery walk and am energized by listening to and learning from others. Thank you, Carole and Elizabeth!

~ Nan Bell

Being part of the Art Explorer’s class at the UMA Senior College has given me the confidence to take my art to the next level.

~ Joanne Webber

The class begins at 9:30, but since the first session, when “newbies” and “oldies” meet and mix, we have tended to gather earlier to share our art and our lives. The studio is a safe space. Weekly sharing of our “homeplay” through the clothesline gallery is rewarding. No pressure! Exhibit or not; it’s all good. With excited voices, we comment on the new lesson for the day and gather materials to start our projects.
Little by little, the voices and the laughter subside as a harmonious silence takes over. We are in our collective Zen moment.

~ Priscilla Doel

How lucky am I to play and explore with paint with other UMA Senior College art explorers! Yes, I have taken this class twice; hopefully, it will not be the last. The upbeat energy of the other class members and the creative atmosphere of this class are palpable as soon as you enter the room. Carole and Elizabeth offer structure, cheerleading, and a genuine love of art to each and every student. After taking my first art class with them, I have even worked up enough courage to start making cards to sell at a local shop in my town! Unbelievable, but true! I cannot say enough about the value of being a part of the UMA Senior College community. It gives me a place to learn, connect, and explore as part of my post-retirement second act of life.

~ Kim Rideout-Dawes

Friday mornings are “adventure time” for those enrolled in Activating Your Artistic Creativity. Our spirited leaders, Carole Baldwin and Elizabeth Luckraft, generously guide us as we follow each Friday’s creative trail. UMA allows us to use the art studio in UMA’s Fine Arts Building, and we greatly enjoy this privilege. This space enables us to create in an environment that accommodates both artistic exploration and social connections. For two hours, we learn, play, create, and share as we suggest, support, and celebrate our fellow explorers and ourselves as well. We “make art” with paper and paints (and more) and all kinds of tools—traditional and non-traditional. Our mornings are alive with curiosity, adventure, and the very best—many “Aha!” moments.

~ Kathleen Crilly

This article appears in the
FALL 2023 ILLUMINATOR, along with many other articles submitted by UMASC members.

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See the Illuminator archives since 2014.