Ella York was looking for a constructive way to occupy her son's summer break when she signed both of them up for art classes in 1996.
"He didn't have the patience for the steps that it took," says the Trenton, Ga., resident. "He wanted some result immediately. But I was hooked."
Still hooked, York is one of 13 artists exhibiting in the Regional Art Alliance's spring show and sale at The Colonnade in Ringgold, Ga., through May 24. The Alliance is a group of 40 amateur artists, skilled in a variety of mediums, who meet monthly for peer support and continuing education.
"The Alliance has encouraged me to keep painting," says York, an oil painter who joined six years ago. "We always try to get an artist to come to the meetings to share technique, explain their style, so I'm always learning new things."
Judye Carlisle, show chairwoman, says the alliance hosts a half-dozen exhibitions each year for members to show and sell their work, in addition to providing continued instruction to its membership.
Carlisle says the upcoming show includes 81 works in watercolors, oils, acrylics, marbling, pottery, jewelry and more, and will be displayed in hallways throughout The Colonnade. Visitors may browse at their leisure between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. any weekday. Every piece is marked with an asking price and artist contact information.
"If someone wants to purchase a piece, they should contact the artist listed on the work to make arrangements for payment and pick up of the work," says Carlisle, a volunteer art teacher at Christ United Methodist Church who formerly taught classes in Craft Castle stores.
Octogenarian Evelyne Miller, who has four watercolors in the show, says that, though she "piddled in art and had done some pictures for friends," she didn't take her talent seriously until the early 1970s after she was married and living in Ohio. That's when a neighbor invited her to an art group.
"I met Fred Leach, an American Greeting Card artist, took his workshops and studied with him for eight years," she says.
Miller, who joined the alliance in 1991 and is its eldest member, is also known for painting her own Christmas cards. She says she starts painting in September in order to complete the original art on more than 30 cards she mails for the holidays - and no two designs are alike.
"I love that group," she says, "because we are 'one for all and all for one.' We love to help each other."
Contact staff writer Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.