By MOLLY WESTFALL
P.R. Bailey, also known as Abbe, is no stranger to the world of art and art education.
Her love of art was sparked at a young age when her brother would draw for her while babysitting. She said he could take anything, like an image on a magazine cover, and recreate it for her.
Abbe always believed he did a great job and she wanted to become an artist just like him.
Her brother went on to become a sculptor and Abbe began refining her talent for painting.
Abbe recalled a conversation she had with a friend of hers in high school, who was going on to teacher’s college. “Who would ever want to become a teacher, that’s horrible,” she said,
“Well guess what, I’ve been teaching for over 50 years now.”
Abbe never imagined she would end up teaching for a living. She initially started teaching when a neighbor who admired her work came to her and asked that she teach her daughter how to draw and paint. Abbe declined.
“I didn’t believe I knew enough to be able to teach it so someone else,” she said.
A few weeks later the neighbor returned with a handful of children eager to learn how to draw and paint. She remembers her neighbor saying, “You’re not going to make four kids cry, are ya?”
At that point, Abbe went to the library and checked out every resource to create a curriculum to teach the children using imagination and exploration. She ended up teaching in her community like this four nights a week, for 18 years.
Most of her students still stay in contact with her to this day, “they come, they stay,” she said.
Abbe is primarily self-taught after the opportunity for her to take art classes in school ended when she finished eighth grade. She said back when she started reading about her craft, the books were very technical and hard to follow but she read them all.
As time went on and more instruction became available she made sure she took advantage of it and also began taking continued education classes, art classes at Central Connecticut State University, and was instructed by various mentors she sought after in her career.
The vision for her own art school came about after Blick Art Materials discontinued their art classes. Abbe had several students who were disappointed and looked to her to continue their art education. She was able to find a space in Plainville and with the help of her husband, who is also a painter and wood worker, she created her own art school and now she is excited to be celebrating 10 years of business and education.
Abbe offers various classes in water colors, acrylic painting, and oil painting. She also offers parent/child workshops once a month.
In addition to teaching, Abbe is also in the process of writing her own book on water colors. “It’s very time consuming,” she said “I want to make sure I cover everything appropriately and thoroughly as a lot of the other books leave stuff out.”
Abbe’s 10 year anniversary Open House will showcase her work, as well as her student’s work, light refreshments and hand outs on Sunday, March 13 from 1 to 4 p.m. The Farmington River School of Art is located at 73 East Main St. in Plainville.
By MOLLY WESTFALL