Artist and art instructor Wilma Ogella has been teaching art for more than 40 years. A self-taught artist, she is a lover of every medium, from fabric art to ceramics and drawing. Mostly she is a painter, and she will share her numerous works Feb. 12 at a one-night reception and art viewing at Java Stop, 321 S. Hutchins St., from 4 to 7 p.m.
What do you like to paint? How do you describe the pieces you will show at the Java Stop reception?
I started out wanting to just paint animals, especially horses. I’m fascinated with the horse. Then, I moved to other wild animals. Now, I’m fascinated with trees.
You are 77 years old now. How old were you when started painting?
I started painting as a poor little kid, whenever I could get the supplies. I grew up on a farm in Oregon milking cows. There wasn’t much art in our family, but art is something I always wanted to do. I would doodle or draw pictures of things that I would see.
I never took an art class until I was in my 60s because I worked my whole life (in accounting). I’m all self-taught, usually through library books, until we moved into Willits in Northern California and Mendocino College was available to me. I thought I’d fallen into the greatest riches in the world with all those wonderful teachers.
Tell me about the art class you teach at Hutchins Street Square. How has it evolved over the years?
We started as decorative painting, which is a streamline form, step-by-step way of teaching beginners to paint. Then, as the class went on, we were working with acrylic paint. They decided as the class went year-to-year that they want to try other mediums: Oil paints, water color, ceramics. Whatever art world they were interested in, usually I had done. I’ve been a person whose done it all most of my life.
I teach at Hutchins Center one day a week now (previously it was twice a week).
Is it still open to new students?
People can still join. They are welcome to come in and join the class and visit and see what’s going on.
So what medium do you enjoy now?
I like to paint, but I like to do all of it. I’ve done it all. I’ve been more focused on painting in the last 30 years.
Do you teach children as well as adults?
If the child wants to be there and has a desire to learn to paint or draw, I want to teach them. I can take a child who’s never painted and they can leave a class with a painting — if they follow (the steps).
You were in accounting most of your life. How did you make the change to teaching art?
I made the change when I moved to Willits and I couldn’t find work. They had several hobby art stores in Willits; with these little towns in Northern California, there are artists on every corner. One of the ladies who owned one of the stores asked me to be a part-time worker and teach some classes.
It grew from there. I taught at all the local stores in Willits and Ukiah.
What advice do you have for people in their 40s or 50s who might have the urge to switch careers?
I’d say go for it. If you have an interest in teaching people and a talent at getting the point across, do it. Say, “Here’s what I’m (wanting)” and do it.
I was probably in my 40s when I started teaching ceramics.
Do you ever regret your decision?
I had no choice. There were no jobs available in this little town. When the opportunity presented itself, I was very happy with it.
I started learning and reading more books on how to get the point across and it all evolved. I started out doing decorative painting, mostly on sweatshirts.
How many people are in your classes?
I don’t have many, maybe eight. I wouldn’t have more than 10 because I do individual discussions with the people and I spend a lot of time with students.
What will you show at your art viewing?
I’ve got a bunch of them. I really want my students to show their paintings, but they want me to show mine. I’m really more proud. I have the most wonderful artists that are in my group, and I’m in awe of them because they usually only paint one day a week and they can turn out these masterpieces. I’m very blessed.
Contact Lodi Living Editor Lauren Nelson at email@example.com.