Library program takes residents on artistic field trips

L to R, Sherry Pakulski, Annette Hansen, Kathy Degree, Lisa Liotta and Penny Cunningham show off their art after a summer sketching class at Bayside Park, hosted by the Burnham Memorial Library on Monday evening. (Photo by Michaela Halnon)

Five Colchester residents surveyed a picnic table with delight at lower Bayside Park on Monday evening. Nearly every inch of the wooden surface was covered with colored pencils, watercolor paints and sketchpads galore.

“For those of us who like drawing, it’s like being in a candy store,” librarian Penny Cunningham quipped with a laugh.

It was the first meeting of the Burnham Memorial Library’s 2017 summer sketching and painting program. Each gathering is staged at a different location around Colchester.

Cunningham said the course ran two years ago, but participants stuck to drawing in the Main Street library’s garden. The decision to take this year’s class on the road is part of the library’s effort to bring programs to residents across the geographically diverse town.

“An ongoing thing we’re working on at the library is being more accessible to everyone in the community,” Cunningham said. “Colchester is so spread out, [and] the library isn’t just about coming into the library … By doing this in other places, we build on that idea.”

Artists of all experience levels created renditions of sailboats in Malletts Bay during the class. (Photo by Michaela Halnon)

Some of the women at Monday’s class were practiced artists and quickly broke off for quiet, individual sketching time. Others (this reporter included) stayed back for some basic lessons.

Cunningham, an art school graduate herself, offered a crash course in proper pencil grip, types of lines and basic picture composition. But soon enough, everyone had turned their attention to the sailboats floating in the bay nearby, pencils and paintbrushes dashing across the page with varying degrees of confidence.

Participants shared the heaps of supplies, offered careful suggestions and extended compliments in between telling stories of their own artistic origins and favorite masterpieces.

A few sprinkling raindrops heralded the end of the hour-long meeting, but not before the participants had rattled off a half-dozen locations and subject matters they were eager to try and capture the likeness of in the coming sessions.

For more information about the location of upcoming summer sketching and painting classes, visit or call 264-5660. All skill levels are welcome.