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Rhonda McEnroe

A self-taught painter, Rhonda McEnroe turned the spotlight on her students with an exhibit at Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro. “Trust me, these students who will be exhibiting in the show are far better than I was at the age of 5 or 6,” she said.

McEnroe, a self-taught artist, engages in the full range of media -— watercolor, oil, pastel, and soft mixed media -— in abstract techniques as well as realism. She mastered watercolors because she was told it was the most difficult. She loves oil painting and pastels, especially for children and pets, she said.

McEnroe’s mother was an artist, and both she and her siblings followed mom’s lead.

She started teaching in 1986 and teaches students one on one out of a studio room in her home. People of all ages come for lessons. “It’s a fun place to be, and it’s comfortable and relaxed. There’s no pressure. There’s laughter. They’re not surrounded by 30 different peers trying to do the same thing,” she said.

Her student is the focus of her attention, she said. “I always tell them, once you learn the skills and you create your own style of painting, you can do whatever you want,” she said. “But you need these backbones, the skeleton of the drawing and the painting ability, the mixing of colors, the application, when to do something, how to correct something. These things give your work strength in the long run, no matter how you end up making your own style.”

The Kentucky Wesleyan exhibit is the first time McEnroe has had an exhibit of work by her private lesson students; work by 20 students is featured. The exhibit helps her young artists build their self-esteem, McEnroe said.

She added that she enjoys running across her young students in Walmart or at a restaurant and getting hugs. “Sharing time with them is a gift back to me as well as to them,” she said.

This segment is part of Kentucky Life episode #2211, which originally aired on February 25, 2017. Watch the full episode.