Art classes in the heart of Limerick in former church

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Paul Weeraskera with Maria and Anne at his art class in the former Franciscan Church in Limerick
AN O’CONNELL Avenue painter is brushing up on his teaching skills - offering art classes to people of all ages.

AN O’CONNELL Avenue painter is brushing up on his teaching skills - offering art classes to people of all ages.

Paul Weerasekera, who hails from Sri Lanka originally, has set up a studio in the former Franciscan’s Church in Henry Street, and he is teaching small groups of youngsters and adults.

A professional painter, with more than 30 years of exhibitions and experience behind him, Paul decided it was time to begin sharing his expertise earlier this year.

Now, in his studio - which sits next to that of locally renowned artist Kate Hennessy - Paul sees 20 people on a regular basis, from all walks of life.

These, he says, include members of the gardai, therapists, teachers and the unemployed.

“All walks of life are here. People just enjoy coming here to paint,” he says. “I teach them the technique: how to paint from a photograph or on location.”

Paul - who describes himself as a “semi-impressionist” - specialises in painting landscapes, and architecture, having completed a degree in this subject in Britain.

“I find behind every building is a story: an old closed down train station - someone meeting there, or someone leaving the town of the city. A meeting, a relationship,” he explains.

His students range from five to 82 year olds, and Paul admits many will not have seen a paintbrush in their lives.

He teaches parents and children, saying: “I can see how much they enjoy painting. Sometimes the parents enjoy the experience more than the kids!”

Soon, Paul says he is hoping to offer classes for the disabled in his studio.

Paul - who moved to Limerick 20 years ago - sets out to make his classes relaxing: tea and cakes are in plentiful supply, while the relaxing sounds of Andrea Bocelli are on the stereo.

Two Limerick ladies who were enjoying the easel were Maria and Anne.

The recently retired friends sought a deal using the web site Grab One.

“We were given a choice: paint something ourselves, or paint one of his paintings, and he took us through,” Maria said. “He has been telling us about the lighting, the different brush strokes.”

Anne said they will definitely be back.

“We are dreadfully amateur. We are recently retired, and felt we should take up something. But it is very relaxing,” she added.

Paul - who is exhibiting at the Roches Street traders festival - charges €12 for a two-hour class - but he says this can often extend depending on how the class is going.

He prefers to help smaller groups.

For more information, call him on mobile 085-7736234.