After husband's death, Milford art studio closing down as owner pursues new passion
Rosemary Connelly speak about learning to draw and sketch and tips to stick with it.
Rosemary Connelly knew she needed a change.
Her husband, Bob, was a photographer who died in 2015. Rosemary is still a painter in the studio where the two worked called Live Cheap & Make Art Studio.
But it just didn't feel the same, Rosemary said.
"My heart just hasn't been there," she said. "I maybe kept it longer than I should have, but I'm just not here. It's time to make a change."
So Connelly is closing her Milford studio — she hopes to be out by the end of August or beginning of September — and is focusing on something that is a passion of hers — watercolor journaling.
Connelly has been able to focus much of her attention on watercolors since she retired, said April Abel, who has been friends with Connelly for 10 years and was mentored by Connelly's husband.
"Her decision to close the studio did not come easily," Abel said. "But since her husband's death, she is getting back to traveling, so that is what is motivating her not to be stuck in one place in the studio and gallery."
Wherever she goes, Connelly said she brings along with her a journal with watercolor paper, pens, brushes and watercolors.
"I sketch anything and everything, really," she said. "Wherever I happen to be I sketch. My husband and I lived in Italy for two years. It was pretty awesome, so I did a lot of sketching there ... We actually have been in Milford now for 10 years, so it’s been that long since we did it. The time of the years has just gone so fast. We always traveled and enjoyed traveling and I continue to do that."
So far, she has sketched in places such as Denver, Shenandoah National Park and Barcelona — the first foreign trip she took after her husband died.
Along with the paintings when she journals, she also jots down notes on details of where she is, such as time of day, weather, environment and location.
"And you look back at your journals and you remember that so much more," she said. "And I say this my husband was a photographer but all these people go on vacation and they take these snapshots and they don’t remember where they were.
"It’s all these images, but this way you really do remember where you were and what you were doing."
Connelly said she is inspired by the world around her, and she will draw whatever strikes her fancy, from pens and pencils to flowers to a city scene.
She has a background in graphic design so setting up a design is instinctive to her, she said.
"So more or less I will see something that I like, what it looks like I want to sketch it, so I guess I have in my mind what I want to capture on the page," she said. "If I were doing a painting, I might plan it out more and do thumbnail sketches and get the best composition. With this it is just more on the fly."
And her passion for watercolor journaling has lead her to teach classes on the subject.
She teaches with the Rehoboth Art League, Mispillion Art League and places such as Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.
Abel said she has been a student of Connelly before, adding Connelly has an ability to make her students feel at ease regardless of their skill level.
"She has created a signature for it in the area. People take her workshops again and again because of her work," Abel said. "Her classes are very approachable for people whether they have been painting for a long time or are beginners."
Paula Holloway, the education program director for the Rehoboth Art League, said Connelly teaches several classes with them annually, and she is a very popular teacher.
Connelly teaches students pen and ink watercolor — similar to what she does in her journal — as well as urban sketching and journaling.
"She is very much into urban sketching because that’s when you go and paint you are painting something historic with the time and place," Holloway said. "We have three days where people meet here and then go out onto the beach to do urban sketching. She is very popular and we always seem to get good feedback."
When someone is first starting out painting, Connelly said it can be very difficult, but she said she always encourages her students not to give up.
She tells her students that if someone were to hand them a violin and they did not have any experience playing it before, they wouldn't be discouraged.
"And it’s the same thing with art," she said. "You can’t expect that you can sit down and do something without any experience or practice or having taken lessons or any of that. So I always say the most important thing is the desire to do that. You can learn skills, the more you do it the better you get at it and that’s where the desire comes in.
"If you want to, you will keep doing it and it will happen."
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