LAFD Paints for a Purpose

The two paintings participants would recreate.

Painting parties have become popular.  Groups of friends gather and create something on canvas left with an original piece to take home.  The Lowell Area Fire Department hosted two painting sessions this past weekend as a means to gather donations for their General Fundraising Fund.

Fighting Fire

Ron Pleune from ARTengage! took the role as instructor leading participants through the steps needed to create a painting.  Pleune had his original painting but also created a second along with the class so they could see his technique.  While everyone looked at the same finished product as an example and followed the same directions each person’s final product was a result in personal interpretation.  There was no right or wrong way to paint, which was part of the experience.   Even the example painting brought to class and the one completed in class by the instructor did not look identical.

Paul Roderick works on his painting.

Those who participated in the first session worked on a firefighter and included a some LAFD firefighters.  Paul Roderick, who retired from the department last year, said his inspiration came from remembering his call to help with the Michigan Wire fire in 2007.  “It was the biggest fire of my career.  I opened a door and this is what it looked like.” he said referring to his painting.  While most of the class had their canvas in portrait position Roderick wanted his done in landscape to further capture the amount of fire surrounding the firefighter.  

Individuals also had the opportunity to add initials and other things such as a number at the end to make the finished product even more personal.  From blank canvas to unique work of art those leaving the class enjoyed a couple hours of painting, socializing, and snacks for a good cause.  

Showboat Sunset

The second class had the opportunity to paint the showboat.  They followed the same process of seeing a completed painting while following along as Ron created a second of his own during class.  Members of the class saw a sunset, trees, and showboat emerge over a couple hour’s time.  Cindy Meyer, Beth Johnson, and Jodi Mohr have done crafting activities together and decided painting would be fun to try.  Christa Wetzel also took part in the class.  She is considering donating her painting to Lowell Rotary for their upcoming auction where funds raised will be given to the efforts to replace the Showboat.  

Previous experience in painting or other artistic medium was not necessary to participate in the class.  With easy to follow steps and directions from a teacher all ages and skill level could create a finished product to be proud of.  

Nicole Witherell receives a donation from Ron Pleune.

Help for the Department

Nicole Witherell coordinated the event.  The idea for a painting party stemmed from a date night where she and her husband Shannon attended a paint class at ARTengage!.  They happened to be the only two in the class which led to striking up a conversation with Pleune.  Shannon is a 20 year veteran with the department and its current Captain.  Nicole has been with the department since 2006.  “I’m very active with many of the firefighters’ spouses and was currently looking for an event for the “Fire Wives” to do together. When asking if the instructor ever did home painting parties, he also shared that he does fundraising events.” says Nicole about how the idea of a painting fundraiser got its start.  Others in the department liked the idea and Chief Ron van Overbeek approved the event at the firestation.   

A total of 25 people participated in the two sessions.  Ron donated $10 of each person’s fee to the Lowell Area Fire Department with a total of $250 being added to the General Fundraising Fund.  This account is used to purchase items which fall outside the scope of the general operating fund.  Nicole explains, “For example, this past year they purchased department-issued warm winter coats and hats for each of the members. They’ve also purchased such items as hat badges, award pins, and provided a nice fire department Christmas party for the members and their families.”

Future events for fundraising are always being considered.  Nicole Witherell said she’s working on coming up with something for the summer.  And perhaps a painting party will become an annual event.  If you missed these sessions follow the Lowell Area Fire Department on Facebook for information on future fundraising efforts and happenings within the department.  

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