DUNWOODY, Ga. — Pam Wetzel believes Spruill Center for the Arts saved her life.
Six years ago, she lost her husband of 52 years to an incurable blood disease after being diagnosed only 14 months earlier.
“Bill was a very healthy person, he was very active — a golfer and a biker,” Wetzel said. “He was diagnosed right after we returned from a cruise celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary.”
After Bill’s death, Wetzel, a Dunwoody resident for more than 40 years, said she was “lost.”
“After he passed, I had time to think about what I wanted to do with my life, and I just felt like I didn’t have any purpose or focus,” Wetzel said. “I had dabbled in oil (painting), but not in a serious way.”
That’s when the arts center came to the rescue in the form of Estelle Hart, an instructor at Spruill.
“I started taking watercolor classes from Estelle and took to the concept of ‘ink-and-wash’ right away,” she said. “It was like a light went off, and I thought, ‘This is what I want to do.’”
Ink-and-wash painting, according to the Virtual Instructor, is “a technique of drawing that falls somewhere between drawing and painting. Because the medium is wet when it is applied, many consider ink wash a painting technique.”
Wetzel started small, making notecards using the technique, but has since expanded into a variety of forms, including glass cutting boards, tea towels, tote bags, blankets, pillows and holiday cards. Her wares are not only for sale at the Spruill Gallery and Gift Shop, but she and two other women — Sheri Olson, a potter, and Nancy Moseley, a glass artist — recently opened a booth called ARTRIO at the Painted Tree Boutique in Roswell.
Her artwork entitled “Poppy” was chosen last year as the featured art piece on Spruill’s March 2020 Artistic Affair fundraiser invitation, recognition she called “a big honor.”
Spruill Executive Director Alan Mothner called the selection a natural choice, given Wetzel’s story.
“To me, Pam epitomizes what it means to be an artist and the idea that art should bring comfort to the afflicted,” Mothner said. “Her work truly captures her kind and giving personality, which is one of the reasons we selected it for our annual fundraiser’s invitations last year.”
Wetzel is still taking classes twice a week — a watercolor painting class with Maureen Engle (who took over the class when Hart retired) on Wednesdays and an open studio class on Saturdays.
“The Saturday classes are like a party,” Wetzel said. “We all learn from each other and it’s an invaluable experience every time.”