Vibrant Art, Vibrant Senior Life – Boulder Daily Camera


Jonathan Castner

Nyla, presented in her studio at the Carillon.

When Nyla Witmore and her husband decided it was time to move from their large family home in Boulder to a seniors’ community, Nyla’s primary criteria were not a great kitchen, a spacious apartment, or attractive social programs (although she enjoyed all of these features as well). Instead, her main desire for her new home was northern light.

A professional artist who has taught, painted and lived in Boulder for over three decades, Witmore was looking for a home that would minimize distractions and provide, yes, ideal light. She explained, “I love having perfectly balanced northern light, a must for a painter.” She and her husband, a retired business executive, found the right person for them – and for his art – in The Boulder Creek Chime, the upscale luxury hotel-style seniors’ residence nestled between Folsom Field and the University of Colorado Boulder’s East Campus. “I knew I could have more focus here,” she said. The Witmores rented two adjoining one-bedroom apartments on the north side of the Carillon, one for their residence and the second for an art studio. “From our balcony we can see people rafting the creek and watch people learning to play tennis and going back and forth on the way. We search in nature. When winter comes and the leaves fall, we look to the Front Range; the views are stunning.”

Creativity at the Carillon
Life at the Carillon was good for Witmore and his art. As past president of the Boulder Art Association, she attended Boulder Open Studios for years and continues to paint weekly with the Plein Air Artists of Colorado. Her work, exhibited in international galleries, is primarily figurative and impressionistic in style, and she enjoys capturing intimate landscapes while “creating a feeling but also an interpretation of the scene in front of me,” Witmore said. She added with a laugh, “My job has been a great excuse to travel.” Nevertheless, at the Carillon, Witmore prefers to “be part of the group” and “inspire others to express their creativity”, whether that means organizing a gallery wall or encouraging his fellow citizens in their imaginative pursuits, a- she declared. Although she paints for a few hours most of the time in her studio, she religiously attends Carillon’s Tuesday art class, taught by resident and former public school art teacher Mary Hamlin.

The Carillon Tuesday Art Class

Jonathan Castner

Carillon’s Tuesday art class is taught by resident and former public school art teacher Mary Hamlin.

“Mary’s approach is very liberating, focusing on exploration,” Witmore said. “In community life, we have residents who have some artistic experience and others take advantage of their free time to discover or develop latent artistic skills. Experienced and novice participants meet once a week to explore creativity. I have seen tremendous growth in the three years we have lived here. Even her 57-year-old husband, who never picked up a brush before they moved to Carillon, attends classes. “And he’s excited about it,” Witmore said.

Hamlin’s welcoming and adventurous approach to art reflects the Carillon philosophy. After all, the Carillon is about nurturing and energizing the whole person, from fitness classes and lectures to brain games and book clubs, noted Bryan Sanchez, Carillon’s director of community sales, so the arts program is intuitively integrated into community life.

Hamlin started his class about nine years ago. “When I first came to Le Carillon, we had crafts and funny little paintings, that was it. I started the program and it kicked off right away,” she recalls. “We’re people who are willing to try, to look at great art, to talk about composition, and then say, ‘Maybe we can try to work like this person did.'” The class experiments. many media including pencil drawings, acrylic, pen and ink, print, collage and small sculptures.

“Art allows us to think bigger than the obvious, to expand our world so that we are truly more observant and sensitive, to express our feelings, to respond,” Hamlin said. “I tell them to ‘show me what you see,’ and there’s a lot of satisfaction in that.”

Art for brain health
The Carillon’s focus on resident creativity can also support physical health, Witmore said. “Creativity engages a different part of the brain, and as we age, it’s so important that we stimulate more places in the brain to keep the brain healthy, to keep depression at bay.”

The Carillon Tuesday Art Class

Jonathan Castner

Carillon’s Tuesday art class is taught by resident and former public school art teacher Mary Hamlin.

Witmore compared the cognitive benefits of art production to those of exercise, saying, “My balance has improved 75% since taking exercise classes here, and my husband and I are both in healthier than when we moved in three years ago. Fitness and balance classes involve brain training, and it makes everything better.

A Treasure Box of Life Stories
Witmore came to art late in her life professionally, not seriously studying painting until her forties. She practiced briefly as a speech therapist, cared for her sons, wrote full-time and published three books before ‘discovering I had talent and starting adult education’, she said. . Soon his work attracted students and galleries, such as the SmithKlein Gallery on Pearl Street.

“Stories like mine,” Witmore said, are “one of the most important parts of the Carillon.” She explained, “It’s like this treasure box that gradually unfolds as we learn more about each other and discover these interesting people and stories.” Several other Carillon residents are dedicated to the arts, including a former UC professor who regularly gives piano concerts at Carillon and a former art teacher and museum curator.

Art created by a resident of the Carillon at Boulder Creek

Jonathan Castner

Carillon’s Tuesday art class is taught by resident and former public school art teacher Mary Hamlin.

To celebrate resident skills and promote artistic development, Witmore was asked to organize a gallery wall at the Carillon. The wall will feature mounted works by selected resident artists every few months and will give residents the opportunity to create a themed show. Additionally, Le Carillon dedicates a wall to Hamlin’s art class and displays recent resident projects. “There’s so much encouragement and stimulation here,” Witmore said. “The Carillon encourages older and newer residents to continue using the talents they already possess.

Finally, Witmore said: “Everyone is postponing a move to a retirement home, but we’ve realized it’s more prudent to reduce consumption while you still have power. I had been an avid gardener for years and my wrists were tired from pulling weeds. I made the choice of art.

To schedule a visit or learn more about opportunities for creativity and personal development at Carillon at Boulder Creek, email Sanchez at [email protected] or call 720.565.6844.

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