Senior artists show age is no barrier in creating award-winning masterpieces

Artists range in age from 70 to 90-years-old

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Art is ageless, and artists can be as well! At least it is in the case of a group of talented artisans at Atlantic Shores Retirement Community in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
   
Whether working in oils or watercolor, stained glass or photography, these creative artists in their seventies through nineties are establishing or renewing a passion for the arts in their retirement years.
   
Some, like Atlantic Shores resident artist Margene Sullivan, have discovered their creative side later in life. After her husband passed away, Margene started taking art and dance classes to keep her mind and body active. She developed her fledgling talent, and is now one of the most talented pastel artists in the community.
   
Others, like 74 year-old Jeanie Drescher, are reconnecting with their artistic side now that they have time to devote to it. Her photography, which started as a hobby in 1976, has become a full time passion, with her digitally-painted photographs selling briskly to art aficionados.
   
To support their large community of artists, Atlantic Shores offers classes in their sunny art studio. Classes are taught by talented residents, including 93 year-old Dorothy Stott, a retired art teacher who encourages her fellow artisans to explore their creative side.
   
Many artists are self-taught, and take inspiration from the beauty of Atlantic Shores' 100-acre campus, frequently painting in an outdoor gazebo beside the community's lake.
   
Teachers and students alike are finding fulfillment through art.

Blooming in her late-eighties, Margene is sometimes the oldest person in her art class, to which she comments, "that's fine with me. It's never too late to learn something new, and to do something you love."
   
Just like their younger contemporaries, the work of these seasoned artists is showcased in gallery shows and exhibits. Their works are also garnering a national fanbase, with many recently selected for inclusion in the 2013 VANHA senior art show. Competing against 242 pieces of art, Atlantic Shores artists Ruth Portner, Frank Portner, and George Ikonen all were selected as award- winners.
   
Some are taking this national exposure to a new level, like 73 year-old artist George Ikonen, who's also gained fame shown "in the buff" creating one of his paintings in the Pin-Up Boys of Atlantic Shores Calendar, a nearly-nude fundraising calendar featuring gentlemen from the community.
   
Their artwork has also gone global on the web, with an online gallery shared with facebook fans around the world.
   
Camaraderie keeps the Atlantic Shores artist community moving forward.

As George says, "I first picked up a paintbrush in 1972 before heading overseas in the Marine Corp. It wasn't until 2009, when I took a class with Dorothy at Atlantic Shores, that I took up painting again. Now it's such a big part of my life, I don't know what I'd do without it. I have my friends at Atlantic Shores to thank for that gift."

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