By JUDY A. TOTTS
Senior Living Editor
First place, professional: Frank Geric, 75, of Westfield Center
When did you start to paint?
â€œI started to paint just before I retired, about 15 years ago. My wife, Elsie, told me she didnâ€™t want me just sitting around. I was doing stained glass, and I got tired of cutting my fingers or picking up shards of glass. She signed me up for a watercolor class with Kathy Kraus. Grace Zay held a class at Falconskeepe that I took, and then Jim Dickens (past president of the Medina County Art League, professional artist with American Greetings) asked if I wanted to learn to paint flowers and birds.
â€œI learn a lot at the (Art League) meetings from guest artists. And Iâ€™m thankful to people like Grace (Zay) and Marcia Hinds who encouraged me, otherwise I think I would have quit.â€
What medium do you prefer?
â€œI like the forgiveness of acrylics. It dries fast, although some people hate it for that reason.â€
Do you use references?
â€œMy wife takes a lot of reference photos for me, and so do my daughter and son-in-law (Norm and Cynthia Stickney). But I also incorporate memories of places from childhood into the paintings, too.â€
What is your workspace and painting schedule like?
â€œWe have a spare bedroom set up as a studio, but thereâ€™s no set time to paint. Iâ€™ll paint anywhere from 15 minutes to three or four hours at a stretch.â€
What are your group affiliations, and where have you shown your work?
â€œBesides the Medina County Art League, I belong to the Crooked River Gang that exhibits at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Iâ€™ve exhibited my paintings at the Aquarius Show, Wooster Center for the Arts, Western Reserve Bank, Marieâ€™s CafÃ© and Art in the Park.
Do you have any advice for fledgling artists?
â€œIf you like it, just keep doing it, because you will improve. Get the opinion of other artists. Join a painting group to get some feedback. I like that because they donâ€™t criticize, they critique. Thereâ€™s a difference.â€
Second place, professional: Gail Brewer, 61, of Medina
How long have you been painting, and what medium do you prefer?
Iâ€™ve been painting and teaching painting for about 20 years. I used to paint in the Russian Zhostovo style of decorative painting before venturing into fine arts. I use Genesis oils and also acrylics.
Who inspired you to become an artist?
My dad was an inspiration. I used to watch him work, watch him sketch. He took me to museums. I loved anything to do with art, to do with my hands. Dad got me started, and then art teachers in grade school spurred me on.
What subjects do you like?
â€œWildlife. I study animals and birds â€” Iâ€™m a member of the Audubon Society. I use reference photos, but nothing takes the place of actual study in the field, studying the behavior of animals. I study them and think of what I want the painting to convey. I spent a lot of time at Roscoe Ewing Park one day at sunrise, waiting to take some shots of butterflies.
In addition to the Medina County Art League, do have any other group affiliations?
â€œI belong to the National Society of Decorative Painters, and thereâ€™s a local chapter, the Wadsworth Painters of the Western Reserve. I am also a traveling teacher for Genesis paints.â€
Do you have any advice for beginners?
â€œPaint every day. Itâ€™s good for the mind, good for creativity. You need to stimulate creativity. Be observant and study what youâ€™re painting.â€