The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 13, 2013

Instructor guides fledgling painters at art party

JOHNSTOWN — With a few twirls of a paint brush, a colorful bouquet began to bloom on Janice Davis’ canvas Sunday.

“I’ve never been to an art party before,” she said, brushing the outline of a vase for her flowers. “But I’m enjoying it. It’s kind of fun.”

That’s what longtime artist Jean Pierre DeBernay was aiming for Sunday at the Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center. There, a handful of inexperienced painters were given an empty canvas, space and supplies to create a work of art – a process DeBernay walked each through step-by-step with a conversational tone.

He called it “painting with a twist.”

“Next time don’t forget the wine,” DeBernay told Davis, of Patton, while she painted a tablecloth on her canvas.

Participants were invited to bring wine and other beverages to the event.

DeBernay, a native of Normandy, France, who lived in Johnstown during his high school years, now schedules art parties across the country and separately, through a mission at his home church in Colorado Springs.

A former Hallmark designer, he now teaches art classes for both children and adults.

“I’d say 90 percent of the people I work with are beginners. It’s all about having fun,” he said.

Those who attended Sunday’s party voted on the painting they wanted to replicate. They chose what DeBernay called a Henri Matisse-style still life of a flower vase on a pedestal.

Karen Haluska of Patton watched closely as DeBernay used his watered-down brush to fill his blue vase.

Then she did the same.

“Art is never-ending learning,” Haluska said. “You learn something new all the time.”

DeBernay praised the group.

“They’re doing an amazing job,” he said.

Davis said she was withholding judgement on her artwork until she completed her last paint stroke on the canvas.

But Haluska was already envisioning a spot in her home for her painting.

“Its so colorful and bright,” she said. “I can see it hanging in the living room.”

“That’s the best part,” Davis added. “When you’re done you have something to take home with you.”

This was the second of two art parties at the Bottle Works.

A watercolor workshop is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, according to Bottle Works executive director Rosemary Pawlowski. Cost is $45.*

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at

* — Incorrect information regarding the watercolor workshop was initially published. It has been corrected.

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