Seniors learn to paint while taking time for relaxation


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Artist Karen Gulbransen teaches a watercolor class at Palm Lake Estates in West Melbourne.

Brenda Eggert Brader

Because of her lifelong love of painting, Karen Gulbransen now shares her talent with classes of 14 to as small as four as she teaches watercolor and acrylics to interested residents at Palm Lake Estates in West Melbourne.

“I have been painting all my life,” Gulbransen said. “I can remember painting in the third grade a picture of a boat and my mother has kept that painting to this day. I took classes in junior and senior high school and as electives in college. I have a degree in business and computer science and, after 30 years, switched over to graphic design. I have always done landscapes and pet portraits for people, sold many paintings in Wisconsin and been a member of art organizations.”

After being involved in the art scene in Wisconsin, Gulbransen moved to Florida and found that on a fixed income it was too expensive.

“I used to teach people with disabilities so, combined with that teaching knowledge, I asked around if anyone was interested in attending painting classes.”

Now once a month at the clubhouse, Gulbransen teaches watercolor and acrylics.

“I explain what good quality in paints and equipment is and what is poor quality — how to mix colors,” Gulbransen said. “I come up with different subjects to paint each time. I bring a sample of a landscape or a photo of something. One time, we painted Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night.’ In watercolor, we paint flowers. I show how to make flowers, leaves and a rose. One month, we made more of a craft thing — tin can windchimes we painted. But these people are more into learning to paint. In November, the class utilized rubber cement with a template and created a frozen tree resist technique watercolor.

Many participants purchase the supplies from Gulbransen for each class. She also has taught a class in a nearby community.

“People like doing this not so much to learn the art, but to relax and forget about everything else that is going on now in the world,” Gulbransen said. “It is really therapeutic.”