Harker Heights Watercolor Class

Local artist Joe Friddle leads a watercolor class on Wednesday, January 4, 2017, as part of the Harker Heights Senior Recreational Program's weekly class in the Harker Heights Activities Center in the library. The class is every Wednedsay from 10 a.m. to noon.

Amy Proctor

It wasn’t hard to locate the seniors watercolor class at the Harker Heights Activities Center on Wednesday morning — one simply had to follow the sounds of laughter coming from down the hall.

In the classroom, a lively group of class members could be seen talking and laughing as they worked on various watercolor projects. While they painted, class instructor Joe Friddle made rounds, alternately offering advice and chatting with his students.

“We started this class in 2005 through the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department,” said Friddle, who taught and coached for years in area school districts, including Killeen High School.

“We’ve lost a few people along the way, but it’s still going strong,” he said. “You fall in love with this class because it’s so personable, a group with a built-in support system. Everyone here is always catching up with everyone else, asking after each other. They all go to lunch after the class each week. It’s a great group.”

Friddle wasn’t just giving the group lip service — with nothing but smiling faces, laughter and compliments that could be heard around the room, the class seemed like the most cheerful place in town.

Longtime friends Mary Thomas and Norma Gabriel couldn’t agree more.

“We were neighbors for years until I moved, so now we catch up in class every week,” Thomas, 80, noted. “We’ve both been here since the class started. It’s time we enjoy; we’re a big happy family.”

“It gets us out of the house and away from our husbands, too,” Gabriel added, laughing.

With each student working independently on his or her own project, Thomas, who stated that she prefers painting portraits and birds, was busy working on a sketch of the Alamo at the request of her son.

“His birthday was last month, but I was sick, so I’m working on it now,” she explained.

Gabriel, who, smiling, noted that she is “over 70,” was painting a watercolor mountain landscape.

“I’ve painted all my life,” she said. “Oils are probably my favorite medium, if I had to choose, but I enjoy working with watercolors, too — especially painting portraits and landscapes.”

The class meets at the Heights Activities Center from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesdays for seniors ages 55 and up (all skill levels welcome).

In addition to the seniors watercolor class, Friddle also teaches a class for children and adults at the First United Methodist Church in Killeen on Monday evenings.

For more information, call Friddle at 254-394-3582.

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