By Elaine Omann

Spring courses and workshops for adult learners at the University of North Florida’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) ended last week. Adults who were in these courses are now making plans and signing up for summer schedules.

One such group of adults in Maureen Kirschhofer’s painting class held a student art exhibit to share their completed artwork, which marked the end of this spring session. The group provided refreshments for their guests of friends, family, and staff members. During the class, students and the instructor had critiqued the work during each weekly session and offered suggestions that helped in guiding the paintings to the end results

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During the student exhibit conversations continued about the session, the work completed, and the learning — and then turned to talk about summer learning and plans. Most of the students planned to take Kirschhofer’s course again for another eight weeks and had specific ideas of what they wanted to try: possibly a portrait, or abstract, or another image from photos taken during past travels.

Lifelong learning becomes part of what many adult learners build into their time. Often relationships are developed and friendships continue as in the case of two friends, Sherri Stratton and Sandy Myers, who have been attending painting classes together. They also added an Origami course to their Monday sessions before painting, since they can commute together and provide assistance with medical needs when necessary. It is part of the friendship and relationship building.

Mara Snyder, who painted Majestic the blue bird, has added a summer course, “Women in Islam” to her learning. The instructor has written a book on the topic and is a powerful speaker. Snyder has travelled extensively and wanted to learn more about other cultures and parts of the world. She uses many of her travel photos for references in her paintings.

The one male in the group is not attending this summer session, but plans to use his time to travel to Alaska and collect images for painting. He writes poetry and plans to publish more of his writing.

Other painters in the group are planning to develop a new skill or try new approaches. Some have given their paintings to nieces and nephews and want to continue completing work. Gail Stafford found the weekly class motivated her to finish a painting in time for the next session.

New people have been added to the roster, which brings a different dynamic to the group. Learning from others is fun and develops a deeper artistic understanding.

Summer is good time to add a new pastime and OLLI has a summer catalogue available with new options. Visit for more information.


Photo courtesy Elaine Omann
Maureen Kirschhofer stands in front of the pieces she completed in class as the instructor. She will start a new painting for the summer class.


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