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Neighbor: Page uses skills to teach others

Features Editor

Sept. 7, 2000 10 PM

Mary Page wanted to do something for others – something that would bring added pleasure and meaning to her life and also put a little jingle in her pocket.

She asked the Lord to help her find that "something" and He showed her the way to

a very special place.

As an art teacher at the Colley Senior Complex, Page is helping many of the seniors to find that they have talents and interests that were dormant until now.

"Some of my students had never been interested in art before and some of them had the desire but never the time or the means," Page said. "They are finding out things about themselves that they never knew. They are finding that they have talent and they are finding that their interest in painting is expanding into other areas."

The neuvo-artists the Colley Senior Complex are not too different from their teacher.

She, too, suppressed a desire to paint that surfaced when she was very young.

"I loved to draw and I had a high school art teacher who suggested that I expand my interest in art," Page said. "My mother painted with water colors and she had an aunt who was an artist but I didn’t really do anything until much later."

Page lives near Briar Hill and, in 1984, she attended a Labor Day auction at South Montgomery County Academy. There, she saw some paintings that were for sale.

"I looked at the paintings and I realized that I wanted to paint," she said. "I took a few lessons but then I decided I probably would do better just working by myself. I bought some art books and I learned some things from them, but the most I learned was by trial and error, and there were a lot of trials and a lot of errors."

The more Page painted, the more she learned. When something looked right, she made a mental note of that. When something didn’t look right, she worked at it until it did look right. She could work at the easel for hours and never become tired or bored. Art was the ultimate form of expression for her and she became more engrossed in her work.

Family members and friends were the recipients of her work and their pleasure was her pleasure. The paintings that weren’t given away were put in the back of a closet and all but forgotten.

After a while, her paintings of aircraft were in great demand and she was able to profit "a little" financially from her work. Page’s painting also included portraits and landscapes which she painted mainly from photographs.

"I did go out and do some landscapes but I found that the day didn’t last long enough," she said, with a smile. "So, I decided painting from photographs was the best way for me to work."

During this period, Page pulled the old paintings out of her closet and decided that "I was not as good as I thought" and she got even more serious about her painting.

As fulfilling as her "hobby" was, Page still wanted to do something to help other people. She wanted to be involved in something worthwhile.

"I heard they were looking for an art teacher at the Colley Senior Complex and I volunteered and I volunteered myself into a job," she said, laughing.

Page’s art class became so popular that another was added and then another. There is a waiting list for a fourth class and the students are surprising everyone with their work.

"I can’t tell you how proud I am of every one of them," Page said of her students. "They are all doing very good work. Some of them had never picked up a paint brush before and it’s just amazing what they are doing."

The advanced class has a exhibition at Fraley Frame Outlet in downtown Troy and they are excited about "showing." but they are not nearly as excited as their teacher.

"I asked the Lord to help me find something to do that would be a help to others," she said. "He brought me here to the Colley Senior Complex. I don’t know how much what I do means to my students, but I do know how much it means to me. This is the Lord’s work that I’m here and I’m so thankful that He put me in this place."