Feb. 21—Latrobe Art Center's open studio finds Sue Hrubes and Peg Panasiti each dabbing pigment on a developing watercolor painting.
Wielding brushes, wearing masks and facing each other from the far sides of a U-shaped table, the Latrobe artists are among a handful of regulars at the Thursday afternoon sessions now that the center has resumed some in-person programs in the second year of the covid-19 pandemic.
"We totally enjoy the process of painting with another person," Hrubes said. "We can have someone there to help us critique and maybe see what we don't see.
"There's always something to learn."
The art center has been "easing back into offering in-person activities" since January, according to Executive Director Michael Tusay. "We're excited. We've started to offer classes with limited capacity, to keep everything socially distanced."
Classes are limited to eight students each. All those attending must sign a waiver and pass a health check.
At this week's open studio, Hrubes was working on a still life of pears to use as an example in the weekly mixed media class she leads at the Latrobe center.
Panasiti also teaches a class there, "Fun with Watercolor," but devoted her studio time to work on a watercolor featuring details of a Ligonier building. It is destined for a "Paint Out Wet Exhibition and Art Sale" 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday and continuing through Feb. 27 in the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Ligonier.
"People can come in and buy local scenes that are freshly done," Panasiti said.
At the opposite end of Latrobe's open studio space, budding artist Meah Ezykowsky put the finishing touches on a larger-than-life acrylic painting of a tropical hibiscus.
The Latrobe woman's battle with a brain tumor left her legally blind. Her guide dog helps her get to the studio session, where she gets assistance with her art through private lessons with instructor Sarah Hunter of Greensburg.
Ezykowsky's medical struggle prompted her exploration of art, beginning about four years ago. "I sort of had to change paths a little bit, and art was something to give me a purpose," she said.
She began creating pottery, including mugs and planters, that she markets through Etsy. Now, with Hunter's help, she's working on large-scale floral paintings using contrasting colors.
"She's been doing an awesome job," Hunter said, adding, "We've also become good friends."
"That's the best part," Ezykowsky said.
She's planning to enter her paintings in the Latrobe Art Center's annual open show, slated for May.
"It's going to have sort of a hybrid reception this time," Tusay said. "We'll be offering it in person for people to come if they wish and livestreaming for those who don't want to be in a large group setting."
Likewise, the center is offering a mix of in-person and virtual classes. Visit latrobeartcenter.org for details.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .