Watercolor turtles, flowers, palm trees and more will line the walls at Gulfport’s Mangia Gourmet restaurant now through March 5. This watercolor display kicked off on January 10 as a chance for artists from the Gulfport Senior Center to show off their artwork.
Many of the painters are brand new to painting, but are enthusiastic nonetheless.
Although she’s just learning watercolor, Lisa Chestnut, 59, is no stranger to art. Prior to retiring eight years ago, she spent 15 years working as a graphic designer, focused on advertisements and print making.
“I was just kind of burned out,” she said, reflecting on her career. “But I love art, so now I’ve found something I really love.”
After retiring, Chestnut went to the Senior Center to look into classes. Watercolor was an instant match for her. Chestnut has been taking classes at the center for about a year, and she says it’s enriched her life.
“I have somewhere to go and I’ve always look forward to it, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Chestnut.
Chestnut says she finds bold contrast between graphic design and painting.
“When I retired and started painting, I felt there’s a lot more freedom in it. I can paint what I want to paint,” she said. “My body is thanking me too.”
Leisha Bishop, 54 is another student with work in the art show. Before retiring, Bishop worked as a barber for over thirty years, alongside her father.
“It does wear and tear on your body,” she said. “My hips and stuff were killing me and my neck and shoulders.”
Bishop said she’s done art as a hobby throughout her life, but was brand new to painting until taking Pat Van Leuvan’s free class at the Senior Center. Now, Bishop says she finally has found a career she feels passionate about.
“I’m focusing on me and my art and trying to get it going,” said Bishop.
Aside from her current work at Mangia, Bishop has set up booths at First Friday, Second Saturday and a Christmas show at the Lion’s Club in Gulfport.
According to Chestnut, the show at Mangia is the first to be directly associated with the Senior Center. Thirty percent of commissions from art sold will go to Mangia Gourmet’s co-owner, Jill Johnson, and the rest will go to the artists.