Hidden talents revealed through art

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


On a recent visit to the Norton Museum of Art, program participants of Seagull Services asked to take a closer look at one of the works of art. The piece was created using pointillism, the technique of applying hundreds of tiny dots of color to create a picture – a technique they knew quite well.

Every adult in Seagull Services’ programs is offered the opportunity to participate in a creative arts program. For some, it improves their motor skills. For others, it’s a calming exercise in concentration. For many, it’s pure joy and the discovery of hidden talents that now provides a supplemental source of income.

Art Instructor David Durbak designs projects that can be adapted to suit a range of abilities.  The artists used the tip of a cotton swab instead of a paint brush to add color to the trees they created using pointillism.

“We’ve done everything from simplistic clay modeling to more detailed pieces that take several days,” Durbak says. “A lot of what we focus on is manual dexterity and fine motor skills.”

The art room adjacent to Seagull’s work center is filled with finished pieces and works in progress – holiday cards with 3-D features, sculpted lady bugs, mobiles, and painted plaques. Other paintings and drawings adorn the walls throughout Seagull’s headquarters. One of the most recent projects is creating botanical cyanotype pieces – a process developed in the 1800s that harkens back to old blueprints.

Gathering flowers and other plants from outside the building, each artist arranged them on paper coated with a chemical mixture. The pieces were then placed in the sun where the ultraviolet light transformed each into a stunning blue botanical print.

Recently, the Town of Palm Beach United Way selected several pieces that had been created by Seagull artists and transformed them into notecards to be given as gifts to their volunteers.  The artists were delighted to receive compensation as a “thank you” for the use of their work.

Several of the pieces created by Seagull’s program participants are featured in an online gallery on Seagull’s website, and most items are for sale.

The creative arts program has been made possible through the generosity of United Way of Palm Beach and several other private donors who have supported this initiative over the past four years.