94-year-old art instructor Elaine Lewis ignites creativity, friendship through painting class

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Thursday, October 26, 2023
Art of Aging: 94-year-old art instructor Elaine Lewis ignites creativity and friendship through painting class
Art of Aging: 94-year-old art instructor Elaine Lewis ignites creativity and friendship through painting class

WOODBURY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Once a month, Elaine A. Lewis teaches a painting class for residents in her Watermark retirement community of Woodbury Mews, located in Woodbury, New Jersey.

It's one of the enrichment classes offered through Watermark University.

"This is a fun time for everybody," says Lewis.

Anna Catando, the Community Life Coordinator at Watermark's Woodbury Mews, calls Lewis "a great teacher," and adds that "residents love her."

Catando was the one who tapped Lewis to teach.

"She showed me her art and I thought it was absolutely fantastic," says Catando.

"I never studied, I am self-taught," says Lewis. "I paint everything."

She says while she's painted portraits, she also likes to paint scenery. She has a painting of one of her sons overlooking the Grand Canyon in her room.

Lewis has been teaching for five years now and her class has grown.

"It's a great class," says Catando. "Because there are people here that never knew they had it in them."

That includes Catando herself.

"She brought the artist out in me," she says of Lewis.

"I did, and I was really happy to see it," adds Lewis.

"What happened was, we had an open seat and she said to me, 'Anna take the canvas and paint.' I said, 'I'm not a painter,'" says Catando. "And she goes, 'just try it.'"

"She just sort of took off," says Lewis. "And she does beautiful stuff."

Catando says she likes landscapes, so she started painting the ocean and beaches at home.

"It helps me with stress," she says.

The two have a friendship that extends beyond the class.

"I call her my second mom," says Catando.

"She's the only daughter I never had," says Lewis, who is the mother of four sons.

And Catando helps Lewis as needed during class.

"We get along so well," says Lewis.

Catando calls the art class, "a team effort."

"I don't consider this a job at all, they're my second family. The people in here are just the best," she says.

"I really do have fun with that class," says Lewis. "I hope that they enjoy it - that they are getting something for themselves."

"She's just a great inspiration," says Catando.

For more information:

Woodbury Mews

Watermark University

Woodbury Mews
122-124 Green Ave.
Woodbury, NJ 08096