Thirty-seven years ago Rena Dillman brought her creative style to the town of Hope and established herself as a teacher who has inspired countless students. Nearly 10 years ago, she opened Patchworks Studio and Art Gallery on the north side of the town's Square where she remains today. Dillman recently spoke about her love for teaching, classes, the greatest challenges she has faced as a studio owner and what she considers the greatest gift of her business venture.
What inspired you to name the studio Patchworks?
I chose that because of my first book, "Patchwork Pieces of Life." I thought patchwork was a good, all-around name to incorporate a little bit of everything, from my paintings to books, just patchwork pieces of life.
What types of lessons do you teach and when?
I offer classes in oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel and charcoal. Classes are during the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
What age range of students do you teach?
Young adult to adult.
Overall, what has been the biggest challenge for you having a studio on the Square?
Anytime you're in a small town, you don't have the presence you would have in a larger area. So, probably just getting the word out that I'm here. There are people who have lived in Hope many years who say, "I didn't know you had a studio here."
What would you say has been the best thing to come out of opening the studio that you weren't anticipating?
The people who come in and visit. Just having people come in off the street - whether it is their first time or their regulars - they know they're welcome. I encourage people to come in, browse or even come in and talk. Make themselves at home.
What types of items do you have available for retail purchase?
I have my paintings, prints, cards and books. Then, I also have artwork that is made by my students. I allow students who have taken classes to hang their art here without charging them a fee.
What are hoping your studio brings to the town of Hope?
I think it brings something the community doesn't have. And that is the artwork, expression of others' art and people are able to come in, view and enjoy the art. And I offer classes. So what I offer is unique in many ways. I think just the fact that for a small town having an art gallery is a plus.
Having been on the Square for so many years, what types of changes have you seen and what do you believe that says for the growth of Hope?
I've seen, especially on the east side, tremendous improvement. The beautification that started about three years ago with the benches and flowers, there aren't that many towns that have that to offer. To be able to come into town and relax on the Square and watch the world go by. I really enjoy the relaxed atmosphere as a business owner and personally. I see people come into town and just pull up and go into the Square stay for a while - they're passing through and then they're gone. They always comment about the good feeling they get and I've had my out of town students say that. They say when they come into hope it is like time slows down for a bit and it is a welcoming feeling.
Where do you see the gallery in the coming years?
I intend to do this as long as I am able. I have taught all these years and have no plans to retire. I hope to continue as long as I've students and people who are interested.