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Thirteen years ago, Carol Newsome didn't know what kind of paint brush to use.
Today, her vivid painting of a blue crab is one of the first canvases that capture the eye at the Beaufort Art Association's exhibit of The Thursday Painters.
The passion from their friendships and their inspirations flow from the walls, which hold four pieces by each of the 10 members in the group that has met every Thursday for the past 13 years.
Newsome was among a group of artists who studied watercolor with Gloria Dalvini. When the classes ended, the group, headed by Ellen Long, decided to reinforce what it had learned and continued to meet every Thursday to paint and share ideas at what was then the Greene Street Gym. The group, made up of most the same people, continues to meet on Thursdays.
During a Beaufort Art Association meeting, Long suggested the group hold an exhibit. "She realized a number of the group would feel more comfortable doing a group show, and each member was asked to bring what they thought was their best three or four pieces," said Carol Molten, Beaufort Art Association Gallery manager, who is a BAA member and jewelry and notecard artist.
Newsome said she sees the growth of each artist in the exhibit. "We have all become good friends," said Newsome, 68, who began with watercolor and has moved into working with acrylics and oils. "It has been a joy to paint with all of them. We get a lot of inspiration from each other. It's just fun to do."
Members of The Thursday Painters are friends outside of Thursdays. They go to workshops together at the gallery and annually in North Carolina.
"It is a good feeling to be with good friends, and mostly we talk about painting," Newsome said. "The group inspires you to keep going and it makes you feel good."
"They are incredibly close friends," added Molten. "They cover for each other on staffing days and there is an incredible bond between them."
While all have worked together, each has maintained their individual style, said Molten.
A zillion little strokes of colored pencils by John "Jack" Mayers, the only male member of the group, creates a work of art that resembles a photograph of tomatoes.
Rene' Levin, the group's most petite member, has displayed the largest work, an acrylic abstract, that was inspired by the view of sailboat regattas that take place in front of her home overlooking the Beaufort River.
Lowcountry scenes include a watercolor of soaring seagulls flying by Long, of Fripp Island, and scenes of the Old Sheldon Church ruins by Beverly Peacock.
Variety in textures and landscapes is an essential part of the exhibit. Hetty Nijman's fascination with geometry andquilt patternsproduced a series of tiny 5x5-inch canvases that have been painted to produce a woodenlooking texture.
The members of the Thursday group also belong to the Beaufort Art Association and are gallery members, who have works exhibited there year round. As part of their gallery membership, they volunteer at least one day a month at the gallery.
"The Thursday Painters group has been such a blessing," said Pam Hagan.
"Everyone is so supportive and caring and open and helpful whenever you are working through the creative process. It's like a family, except we really like each other, which isn't always the case in a real family."
Many association members, who don't have time to volunteer at the gallery, exhibit in the satellite galleries: in the county administration building, Lowcountry Medical Group and Beaufort OBGYN and Ameris Bank.
In December, they will exhibit in the All Members Holiday Show and in the upcoming Beaufort Memorial Hospital benefit Show in October. The annual spring show is held in early April.
Two to three workshops are sponsored by the association each year, and demonstrations are ongoing at the gallery.
The Thursday group includes all past officers and presidents of the Beaufort Art Association. "They tend to all talk at once when they are together," Molten said. "There is a lot of energy in the group. There is a feeling of close friendships."
The artists will be available to discuss their works at the opening reception from 5:30 to 7:30 tonight in the Elliott House at 1001 Bay St.