Jun 04, 2023

Sharing what she knows with everyone — free of charge

Pine Island Kiwanian Karen Hartshorne believes it is important to share everything she has. In addition to serving Pine Island through the Kiwanis Club, she also volunteers and is the president of the Museum of the Islands (MOTI). In fact, she teaches children free painting classes right inside the museum and encourages them to sell their work for a fair price.

At one point, Hartshorne even invited pro-baseball player Bill Lee to come and paint right along with the children.

"I went to Louisiana State University and I took Drawing I and they moved me into the graduate program because I told them I did not want to get a degree — they let you do that at LSU. So I went straight into the graduate program to painting and drawing, had an overall 4.0 in everything I took and that's my education," Hartshorne said.

While living in Hawaii, Hartshorne taught painting to the nuns and patients at the Hanson's Disease Colony of Kalaupa’a in Molokai. She said she always teaches free of charge because she never wants the cost of doing something to get in the way of people reaching their goals and potential, and because that's what she was taught when she was young.

"I always like to do free classes. I was always told by my grandmother that my talents would be taken away if I didn't share them — I always remembered that," Hartshorne said, laughing.

In case anyone wants to learn to knit, Hartshorne said she teaches that age-old skill as well, currently at the library. She said she saw knitting needles and a bunch of yarn at a thrift store and bought them, because she refuses to let anything get in her way. It seems from children to 90 year olds, there isn't a person on Pine Island who can't learn something from Hartshorne, free of charge, as she volunteers her time to teach people just about anything imaginable.

"I’m fortunate that my husband makes enough money that so that I can just volunteer," Hartshorne said.

While growing up, Hartshorne said her family had very little money, which meant she had to forgo many activities. This began in her a desire to make a way for anyone who wishes to partake in whatever they care to take on, such as painting, knitting or jewelry making.

"Because I didn't get to do it, I wanted to let the kids here do it. Cost should never get in the way — I’ll find a way," Hartshorne said.

When she needs things, she said, they just seem to appear at the right time, such as the Kiwanis Club giving her $500 to supplement art supplies for the children's art classes.

"I have all kinds of surprises in store for them," Hartshorne said, explaining that she will have a comic book pad, for comic strip making as well as acrylic paints for the kids.

Hartshorne said although she is teaching children, she teaches them to draw on a college level. Even as young as 8 years old, she said they have no problem understanding concepts such as negative space.

"It's often about the way we look at things, so a lot of it is just teaching them how to see. I encourage them to use both of their hands — I tell them, you have two, use both of them," Hartshorne said.

There are generally no age requirements for anything she teaches. Hartshorne usually allows each individual's attention span to guide the way, saying if they can't pay attention, they’re not old enough. She said she would like to have an exhibit for the children in the library, allowing them to speak about their individual pieces with whomever comes to the exhibit.

"We have a critique at the end of every class. The children all have to put up what they’ve been working on, in the front, and they discuss their pieces — then we teach them constructive criticism, " Hartshorne said.

If you have a question about painting, knitting or jewelry making, email Karen Hartshorne at [email protected].

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