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Resident ‘learns something new’ every time he picks up a paintbrush

Independent Living at the Westerly resident Dick Haden moved some furniture out of his home office to make room for an easel, canvases, and acrylics.

Since June, he has been learning to paint by studying books and videos by Jerry Yarnell, a master artist and teacher, who is well known for hosting the PBS show “Paint This with Jerry Yarnell.”

The lessons have helped Dick learn how to mix paint and grasp fundamentals such as perspective. Plus, the whole enterprise gives him something to do.

“I just wanted something to focus on instead of sitting around all the time,” he said.

Painting reminds him of working on model trains, which was a hobby before he moved to Wichita Presbyterian Manor in 2015.

By the end of August, Dick had finished four paintings, each of which took a few weeks to complete. If he was unhappy with how they were coming out, he simply painted over the canvas and started again.

None of Dick’s canvases look quite like the original Jerry Yarnell works his first few paintings are based on, “but at some point, you abandon that goal,” Dick said.

He doesn’t expect ever be as technically proficient as Yarnell or Robert Carver, whose portrait of a Native American warrior hangs in Dick’s office. But that’s OK with him.

He doesn’t plan on exhibiting his work, although his sons have requested a painting they can hang in their homes.

“I paint for my enjoyment,” Dick said.

An electrical engineer before he retired, Dick brings a sense of curiosity and a methodical nature to his new hobby.

“I learn something new every time I paint,” he said.

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