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Artist teaches watercolor classes at senior center

Joanna Barnum is a freelance artist who teaches watercolor classes at the North Carroll Senior and Community Center. Art has always been her interest, even as a child. She became more serious about it as she got older. Barnum grew up in Westchester County in White Plains, N.Y. From elementary school through high school, the school system offered a good art program. She participated in a number of extracurricular art programs along with summer programs.

Barnum was in middle school when she started studying at the State University of New York at Purchase College in its summer program. Her classes included visual arts such as painting and drawing from a life model.

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While she was in high school, Barnum participated in the New York State Summer School of the Arts Program. As an art student, she loved to try anything related to art including drawing, painting and making things.

After graduation from high school, Barnum attended the Maryland Institute College of Art and graduated in 2006. She was an illustration major but eventually made watercolor her focus after being introduced to a variety of art related subjects at MICA.

Even before she graduated, Barnum began to freelance in illustration. She also worked part time for a framer and in the MICA financial aid office as an assistant.

Barnum continued to work as a freelance artist in illustration after she graduated from MICA. She also pursued portrait painting for clients she found on the Internet.

Today, Barnum does illustrations for clients including Cricket, a children's magazine; UMBC Magazine; and Eating Well magazine.

She also does illustration work for local businesses and self-publishing projects. Although she set out to work as an illustrator, Barnum has been even more successful as a portrait artist. "It has really taken off for me," she commented. At first, she painted watercolor portraits to supplement her income.

Today, Barnum has grown as a portrait artist and this has become her main focus in art. She finds her clients from advertising online and by word-of-mouth from previous clients who were pleased with her skilled artwork.

"I just happen to find the human face one of the most interesting subjects for me. I also like animal faces," Barnum said. "It is also nice when the portraits are for clients who want to commemorate a special occasion or a lost love one. It is nice to be part of that special moment."

Barnum has taught watercolor at the North Carroll Senior Center since 2013. She teaches two classes. One is a more established class of about 18 students. She was invited to teach the group, which has been together for a while. Barnum also teaches an additional class of new students.

Barnum had taught at an art camp but had never done a lot of teaching. "I thought I would not be very good at it because I am not very outgoing. I found that I really liked it and I have 'clicked' with the class. They have all started at different points. But whatever point they have started, they have been able to progress. I find I have learned more about painting by having to figure out how to explain it to people. The students ask really good questions," she admitted.

For the new year, her watercolor classes are having a show at the Carroll Nonprofit Center in Westminster. The show is titled "Seniors at Work" and will run from Jan. 20 through March 31. It is sponsored by the GFWC Woman's Club of Westminster. There will be a reception open to the public at the North Carroll Senior and Community Center from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 10.

Barnum's website is ww.joannabarnum.com and she can be reached at 410-428-3432.

Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmos Art in Westminster. Her column appears on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

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