Carroll County Times
Carroll County Lifestyles

An Eye for Art: Painting club president appreciates online and plein air opportunities

Charlene Roelecke is an artist living in Eldersburg. In middle school, Roelecke started oil painting on her own. She also took art instruction from an online school.

At that time, Roelecke painted mostly still life images. She set up things such as fruit, wine bottles and other objects. Roelecke discovered she had talent and inspired her to paint more. Roelecke recalls painting from photographs. Roelecke continued her interest in art at Glenelg High School. She took lessons from David Zuccarine, a local professional artist at Olin Art Shop in Ellicott City, damaged by the floods.


She took a break after high school and raised her family, returning to art 15 years ago. Then she studied under another local professional artist, Brenda Kidera. Roelecke has studied under Kidera for five or six years. She started the class with still life. From there she encouraged us to paint from photographs. They did landscapes. Roelecke went on to paint portraits. They also painted flowers and plein air painting. We went out into her backyard to paint in her lovely gardens and a pond.

She also took lessons most recently from local Molly Sims. She painted mostly birds and furry animals. Roelecke started painting her pets including two King Charles Cavalier spaniels. She also paints images of her daughter’s cats. “You have to learn the technique with the fur. I learned a lot of good techniques from Sims,” she said.

Artist Charlene Roelecke is pictured with an oil painting titled “Dylan.”

Since the pandemic started, Roelecke has resorted to online instruction. Two artists, Elizabeth Robbins and Shanna Kunz, joined together to teach oil painting. Their business is called Inspired to Paint. Robbins is known for still life paintings and flowers. Kunz is known for landscapes. “They are excellent teachers,” Roelecke said. Roelecke is an all-access member of the website. “You get a workshop and a concept lesson each month from each artist. A concept lesson is about techniques such as glazes, color, harmony. It is the technical aspects of painting. The artists refer back to their techniques in the workshop. They live in Utah. I hope when this pandemic is over, I can go there,” Roelecke said.

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Roelecke has been president of the Sykesville Painting Club for two years. There are 57 members from Carroll, Howard, Frederick and Baltimore counties in the club. “As president I wanted to pick up where Vivian [Davis] left off. I want people to encourage and share ideas with each other. During the year we hold workshops where we met at the Eldersburg Library. One member will teach the others something in their expertise. They hold indoor open studio painting. They also have outdoor painting. Anybody can come. People bring the projects they are working on. They are painting with their art friends. ‘How do you do that? How did you paint that?’ are some of the subjects. Networking and socializing are part of the fun.”

Currently, the artists in the Sykesville Painting Club have been doing a lot of plein air painting since they can’t meet indoors. Plein air is French for outside. In years past, the artists donate a tree to the Festival of Trees held at the Maryland State Fairgrounds for the benefit of Kennedy Kreuger Institute. They do tiny paintings and put them on the tree.

Roelecke belongs to the Carroll County Arts Council. The Sykesville Painting Club donated a wreath this year that is decorated with paintings of snowmen donated by the members. They included a $25 gift certificate to Blick art supplies and a one-year membership to their club.

Roelecke works at the Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel. The company has an art show every year for employees and their families. Roelecke won first place one year for the painting of her Cavalier King Charles spaniel last year.

“Not only am I amazed at what I have learned. I have challenged myself. I continue l learning. When I am painting, everything else is blocked. It is the perfect calm place. It’s as if I were meditating. I feel like I have a purpose and a place in life. I can see myself grow,” Roelecke said.

She can be contacted at and her email is

Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmo’s Art in Westminster. Her column, An Eye for Art, appears regularly in Life & Times.