County offers drawing classes to residents

Monthly parks program welcomes all artistic levels

CHRISTINE HARKINSON/The Sun: “You can put up the same still life, but everybody draws it differently and that will never cease to amaze and amuse me, how everyone interprets things differently,” said instructor Leeannwyn Stoner of the drawing classes offered by the county parks system.

The Burlington County Parks System held its Explore Drawing with Color art program at Historic Smithville Park on Jan. 10, led by instructor Leeannwyn Stoner.

Each month, a new still life is set up and a new drawing medium explored during the evening class. Materials are provided but residents can also bring their own, and all artistic levels are welcome. 

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Stoner has been teaching with the county for five years, and according to the county’s website, she is a working artist and fine art instructor, teaching and instilling in her students that drawing is the basis of all creative arts.

“ … We started with drawing still lifes like this, and then during COVID, it was a little difficult … so we moved outside, and we developed a class called ‘drawing from nature,’” Stoner recalled of how the program initially started. 

“During the pandemic, we were actually still able to meet and we met outside and we social distanced,” she added. “And we were able to draw the items that are lovely around here.”

Each class explores different themes using mediums from pastels to colored pencils and charcoal.

“We have a touch of instruction, but I believe it’s always guided by the experience of the people that come in,” Stoner noted. “This is a very wonderful class and they’re moving along great, but we have people that have never drawn before, and that’s great.”

Sandra Davis, arts program specialist, started working for the county last year and praised Stoner for her ability to connect with first-time beginners and more experienced artists.

“I think Lee (Stoner) is very inclusive,” Davis said. “She finds something good to talk about with everybody’s work and is very encouraging.”

“Explore Drawing with Color’ will have residents using charcoal, vine and pencil on Feb. 7, but Stoner described the benefits of working with other mediums such as pastels on black paper.

“The lovely thing about drawing on the black paper is that you are thinking kind of opposite because the darkness and the shadows are already there, so you’re only working on the light areas, which is kind of fun,” she said. 

The art classes are held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and residents can arrive and leave whenever they want.

“We started just doing the classes in the evenings,” Stoner explained. “We were hoping that we would get people that could come after work to kind of relax, and I think it’s working.”

Stoner’s favorite part of teaching is seeing how no two works of art look alike, and she encourages residents to join in on the fun.

“You can put up the same still-life, but everybody draws it differently and that will never cease to amaze and amuse me, how everyone interprets things differently,” she said. 

“Come take the classes … You can sit in art and draw art.”

To register for future drawing classes, visit

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