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Lead Story Rancho Santa Fe Lead Story

Colorful artwork abounds at RSF Senior Center

RANCHO SANTA FE — The RSF Senior Center recently launched its new watercolor painting classes. Championing the class is local artist, Karen Athens, whose artistic portfolio affords different mediums and has been described by many as inspirational.

Athens, an Encinitas resident, said both traveling and living abroad encouraged her to explore different artistic avenues through acrylics, water colors, pastels, collage and ink.

Athens, who earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, creates both paintings and sculptures. Her work has been exhibited nationwide.

And now, those at the RSF Senior Center have an opportunity to work with Athens so they can unleash their own creativity.

“This class is an introduction to watercolor painting and we’re exploring composition and design, the use of color, different painting techniques, and a variety of painting materials that can be used,” Athens said.

And those who are interested can join the weekly series anytime.

Athens has been an instructor at different adult and children venues such as the RSF Library, San Diego Jewish Academy, Art’ N Soul, Step Ahead Educational Services, Family Recovery Center, La Jolla Children’s Museum and many more.

Athens said she likes to see the level of experience change with her students.

“I like how art fulfills confidence and builds self-esteem with people; and, it doesn’t matter whether somebody’s 5 years old or 85,” she said. “There is a feeling of joy and pride when you create something and see it on paper.”

Athens enjoys watching this process regardless of what level an artist is at.

“It’s a great feeling to know I brought that out,” she said. Athens continued, “I believe this ability is in all of us but it just takes somebody, sometimes, to bring it out.”

For student, Nancy Snyder, she’s enjoying her weekly classes at the RSF Senior Center. She appreciates Athens’ guidance with sketching, and ultimately, painting.

“She is a wonderful teacher and is so talented,” Snyder said. “She always comes around to check on us if we need help.”

Another student in class mentioned how learning the basics of watercolor painting and a technique from painting “light to dark” elevated her skill level.

Athens covers color theories and lets her students experiment with the brushstroke and gradations of blending colors.

Athens said she always starts each class with a technique, lesson or tool, which provides new information.

Students also have freedom on what they want to create. Some bring in personal or vacation photos, a still life, or a picture they want to recreate in watercolor. Athens helps them “break it down” in terms of sketching and then painting it.

“Whatever they want to bring in, I can help them create it and they can work on it each time if they want,” she said. Athens went on to say, “I’m just honored to have the opportunity to teach this watercolor class at the Senior Center because it’s a great group of people.”

Athens pointed out she has had students who have never even picked up a paintbrush before.

“I want people to know that they can accomplish anything; and, you don’t need to be afraid that it will be too hard to do,” she said. “I want everyone to know that they should be proud of themselves and just keep on learning.”

The next RSF Senior Center watercolor painting series begins Sept. 2, and will be held every Tuesday afternoon until Sept. 30. To learn more about the class, visit or call the RSF Senior Center at (858) 756-3041.