A birthday is a special occasion amongst any family, however deciding upon how to celebrate it can sometimes pose its difficulties. Not for SAA member Don Grimsell however, his response to the question “What do you want to do on your birthday? What about a cookery course day?” was simple – “What about a painting day!”

Don immediately set about putting his painting day into action with an email to the SAA. “There would be 10 people ranging from six to 80 years old and we would like some sort of painting experience.” Thanks to the extensive network of professional artists here at the SAA we emailed Don back with a list of artists who resided within his local area. Don’s daughter-in-law contacted a couple of the artists before choosing Mrs Katherine MacLeod who was excited by the opportunity. All Katherine asked was that a picture of each person attending the birthday party was sent to her.

For the day’s events, I’ll pass you over to Don for a first hand account:

“So, on August 6th the family turned up at North Weald Methodist church hall where Katherine had laid out tables and chairs. She had supplied acrylics, water, brushes and to our surprise a canvas each. We had, that morning, taken names out of a hat to determine who we were going to paint, which had caused a little unease among us.

We need not have worried because Katherine explained exactly what we were going to do. Hints of shadows on each canvas were quickly understood and within a short time everyone was busy with heads down, totally engrossed. The hall remained almost unbelievably silent for the next 2 hours, when we had a break for lunch. Before we left for lunch, Katherine suggested that we put the portraits around the windowsill. We were all absolutely amazed, everyone, with Katherine’s help, had done so well. She had the group completely under her spell and had a crazily successful batch of portraits that we were able to take away with us. (crazily – because all but 2 of us had any idea that we could actually paint – let alone a portrait) One of the most effective was by our 6 year old granddaughter of her uncle. After lunch we came back and found Katherine had supplied stencils for addition to the portraits to show interests etc. and so spent another hour finishing off.

The finished portraits are now hanging in our lounge at home and they are an absolute delight and a wonderful reminder of the day we met Katherine”

In a kind email to the SAA following the day, Don said “I would like to express our thanks to the SAA and of course Katherine for making my 80th birthday so special. Katherine had obviously done a lot of work before we arrived and she was absolutely wonderful. I think that as a teacher, I would have baulked at such a wide age range, but Katherine helped us all equally. It is nice to know that such a large organisation as SAA is able to be such a help to an individual. Thank you.”

Below is a photo of the portraits (face paintings) from the day.

Portraits from the Party

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