With a new board committed to return to the leadership style that had led to the group's former successes, the Carbon County Art League is positioned to embark upon the road to recovery and growth in 2012.

Established in 1984, in the following 20 years Art League membership had swelled to 100. Then, the organization floundered after a sudden loss of leadership, and failing to quickly reestablish a new leadership, saw its membership decline to one-third of that number over the following years.

But that downslope is about to reverse itself with the installation of a new board headed by President Earlene Russell and Vice President Marian Schuler. Their plan for a turnaround create a calendar of planned events for the 2012 year and have it available at their first meeting on March 12.

As recently as several weeks ago, the art league experienced a turnover in leadership.

"We've had a lot of changes and unexpectedly we lost people due to illness and due to family obligations," Russell said. "I found myself moving up from the person who volunteered to do the Christmas dinner to become vice president, then president."

Although surprised by this sudden ascension, Russell was ready, willing and able. She believed in the league and felt that it was her turn to work to help it continue and prosper.

"I have a vision I need to share with the members and the board to make sure we are all on board," she said. "I would like to get information out about the arts, not just the arts of the Carbon County Art League, but to make young people and older people aware of the talent that is around and the different offerings in Carbon County.

"We want all artists to join the league," she noted. "We learn and we grow, and when people come together to see others' work, it spurs them to do something different. We showcase the rich history of art in Carbon County. I would like to be involved in the schools, including Head Start. We will offer to introduce the kids to art by showing and demonstrating our artwork or working hands-on with them."

As a 3-year-old, Russell watched her father paint. "My father, Earl Heintz, was a phenomenal artist," Russell said. "He started painting as a young man during the Depression.

"He couldn't afford paints. He painted the most extraordinary image of a man with house paint on a window shade. It rivals anything I've seen in a museum," said Russell.

"I always sensed that I could do it. I would watch him and I'd do everything in my head. I'd see something and think, if I were to paint that where would I start? What would I do?" she recalled.

"In high school, I was doing a painting for a book report. My father looked at it and laughed. He said, "You my dear, are a landscape artist."

She started in oil painting and, through the art league, learned to do watercolor. When she brought her first project into class, her mammoth rendering of the Grand Tetons caused her teacher to ask, "Where did that come from?"

"My father told me I was a landscape artist, and I didn't want to let Dad down," Russell replied.

"I don't know what I am doing," she confessed. "Every painting for me is like a science experiment. I don't know how it is going to turn out."

Russell is now exclusively a watercolor painter.

"I'm enjoying watercolor way too much," she said.

The league has secured a meeting location at the Penn-Kidder Senior Center on Route 903 in Jim Thorpe. Russell plans to ask the league to join the Chamber of Commerce and to launch a website.

The league has roughed out a calendar for 2012. In addition to meetings with a guest presenter each month, there will be a May 12 trip to the Michener Museum to view the Uffizi Exhibit, and a community art show at the Anita Shapolsky Gallery on the June 1 weekend.

For more additional information contact Earlene Russell at (570) 325-9804 or hemlockd@ptd.net [1].