Thank You for Being a Friend

Women find comradery, support and fun though weekly art group.

First they start with coffee, conversation and perhaps a slice of cake.  Then they unzip their canvas tote bags which hold paint brushes, acrylic 
(from left) Gloria Black, Chrystal Pierce and Alice Dickerson have been close friends since high school. They gather every week for art and conversation. 

 

paint in a rainbow of colors, Mod Podge, a canvas and maybe dried flowers and a few scraps of wrapping paper. The group of six women, who have been friends for more than 50 years, meet every Friday morning at 11:30 to explore their interest in art, maintain their friendship and satisfy their need for relaxation. 

“We talk about everything from our grandchildren to what’s going on in the world,” said Chrystal Pierce, a retired art teacher who lives in Fairfax, who organized the group. “We each work on what inspires us on a particular day. It’s different for each of the women. Some paint or make decoupage art on canvas, some sketch or some just doodle. The art is secondary, the main idea is spending time together and having something to look forward to every week.” 

The women, who are in their early 70s have been close friends since high school and have supported each other through life changes that range from the death of a spouse to the birth of a grandchild. None are aspiring artists, but they use art as a way of maintaining their bond. They take turns hosting their weekly art and social sessions and they believe that their healthy friendships will sustain them as they age.


“Art is secondary, the main idea is spending time together and having something to look forward to every week.”."  

— Chrystal Pierce, Fairfax 


“I know that friend groups like ours can keep you happy and that contributes to your overall wellbeing,” said Liz Best, a retired high school guidance counselor who now lives in Potomac. “Coronavirus was a tough time for us when we couldn't get together.  We used Zoom, but it was only slightly better than nothing.” 

As a single mother of five, Dickerson got support from her friends while she was raising her children in Alexandria. “I had one son who used to give me so much trouble,” she said. “He would throw these parties and mess up my house when I wasn't there. I can’t tell you how many times he was suspended from school for one thing or another. I would call these friends and they would tell me that it was all going to be okay.” 

When Gloria Black was diagnosed with breast cancer the women took turns going with her for her chemo treatments. “I don’t think I could’ve done it without them,” she said. “Liz even knitted a cap for me when I lost all of my hair. They made meals and brought them to my house so that I didn’t have to cook for my family. When I think about what these women mean to me, I get tears in my eyes.”  

Pierce says that while she sometimes gives advice and offers ideas to the other women, most of their time together is relaxed. “Nobody judges or comments on anyone else’s work,” she said. “There have been times when one or the other of us has wanted to create something to hang at our house, but most of the time we just want to relax and enjoy each other’s company.”

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