Once upon a time there was a waiting list to join the Fort Garry Palette Club.
But now, with the club set to enters its 50th year of existence, fresh faces are needed to guarantee its future.
Club president Pat Wheeler, who lives in Southdale, has been with the group since its first meeting in September 1962.
She said without more people paying membership fees, it has become increasingly difficult to pay for the club’s instructor, Anne Hanley of the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
The club is in the midst of its annual summer break and will resume in September. In the meantime, Wheeler and other dedicated members of the mostly-female club have launched an informal membership drive — posting advertisements for the club in local newsletters and around the Fort Garry Community Centre, the club’s home base.
"This is the big thrust. We’ve never needed (members) much before," she said. "For years, we’ve had a waiting list."
That began to change as members moved away or health issues prevented them from remaining active with the club, Wheeler said.
And now, the need for new members is crucial to ensure the club continues to exist, she said.
"I don’t want to let it go," Wheeler said solemnly, before cracking a smile. "What would I do with my Wednesday mornings."
The Fort Garry Palette Club has had a significant impact on the way Wheeler sees the world.
Each Wednesday class starts with Hanley giving a short lesson and demonstration, before the club’s members get to work on their own artistic endeavours.
Hanley has been with the club for 25 years, Wheeler added, making her almost family.
"She loves us, and we love her. She’s just like a daughter to us," Wheeler said. "She always says she’s learning just as much from us as the other way around."
Wheeler, whose mother was a painter, said her weekly sessions with the club have changed the way she views colour and light, her environment, and even other artwork.
She describes a recent favourite, Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring.
"The earring, that touch of light — it makes me shiver," she said.
Membership to the Fort Garry Palette Club is $150 annually, which Wheeler said provides more than 30 classes each year.
Wheeler admits that in this day and age, when most people work during the day, it’s difficult to recruit new members for the Wednesday morning club.
Still, for some aspiring artists, it might be the perfect fit, she said.
"If they’re recently retired, and are interested in painting, that’s who we want," she said.
Anyone interested in joining the Fort Garry Palette Club may call Wheeler at 453-2311.