Novice painter learns about watercolors—and herself

Summer meadow, watercolor painting

Laura Froyen is a Ph.D. who left academia to find balance for herself and her family. Part of the plan was having more time to nurture her creative side—and that’s what brought her to a visual art course at University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies.

Laura Froyen
Laura Froyen nurtured her creative side in Watercolor: Fresh Start with the Basics.

In Watercolor: Fresh Start with the Basics, Froyen learned how to set up a palette and mix colors, which are important skills for a beginning artist. But she also took a step toward finding the inner harmony she craved.

“I loved having a set time each week where I could put other things aside and simply be,” Froyen says. “I felt like a more whole person after every class. It was nourishing to the soul to explore and expand a part of myself that is often neglected as a mother to young children.”

Froyen was inspired by fellow learners with various levels of experience, all working together for a common purpose. It was the perfect environment for moving out of her comfort zone, with help from instructor Lynn Tarnoff.

“The class wasn’t scary or intimidating, just fun,” Froyen says. “And Lynn was lovely and so knowledgeable. The best part of her approach was to encourage us to try things out and see what would happen.”

Making magic with paint

Tarnoff is a professional artist as well as the director of Continuing Studies’ visual art programs.

Lynn Tarnoff
Instructor Lynn Tarnoff: ‘Watercolor is having a revival for both beginning and experienced artists who find joy in the process of making art.’

Watercolor is her favorite medium, and she loves sharing her knowledge with students.

“Watercolor is having a revival for both beginning and experienced artists who find joy in the process of making art,” Tarnoff says. “It’s wonderful to see class members discover that they, too, can make magic with paint.”

Along with teaching students new skills, Tarnoff shows them how to use the visual arts to foster their own wellness—exactly the combination Froyen was looking for. In learning to paint the sky and clouds, for example, she learned something about both the medium and herself.

“Now I rarely look at the sky without thinking through how to paint it,” Froyen says. “It’s made me so much more aware and present in moments of beauty.”

Learn more about Continuing Studies’ art classes on the program website. Those interested in watercolor and other media can register for one of eight sessions in this summer’s Art Camp for Adults. For additional information, contact Lynn Tarnoff at 608-890-1424, lynn.tarnoff@wisc.edu.