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East Tennessee woman shares her lifelong passion

4:14 PM, Nov 29, 2012   |    comments
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She started painting when she was a little girl and never stopped.

"My house is completely filled with my paintings. Every wall, behind doors, in the bathrooms, everywhere stacked because I paint all the time," Hazel Johnson explained.

It's always been a passion she pursued on the side.

"I was an electrical designer," she said.

Then she retired and a good friend asked to come to her house so Hazel could teach her to paint.

"And she said I have a friend. Can she come? And I said sure bring her on. She'd been there a couple of weeks and she said I have a friend and so it grew. So two classes I was teaching at home twice a week," she said.

She moved the classes to Strang Senior Center about 15 years ago.

Students travel from all over to take her watercolor classes on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Hazel Johnson is a gifted artist who shares her gift through teaching others.

"When you do what she says it just enhances the picture so much," art student Sue Edwards said.

She does seem to have that magic touch.

"And they'll say can you bring your magic brush around here. I need something done," Hazel said with a laugh.

Sue said, "Hazel has a magic paint brush and she really, really does. And her favorite color is purple and if you don't have purple in your picture she's going to suggest it."

She is gentle with her suggestions.

"They come in here already knowing a lot about painting," Hazel said. "That makes it easy for me because I have some really good artists in here."

The good artists have a good time.

"Someone said it's like our therapy group or gee I knew I had to come. I needed it," Sue said.

The therapy group, er, painting class, rarely has an opening and dozens of potential students are on a waiting list.

Sue said, "We all love Hazel. We don't know what we would do without her."

No worries. Hazel Johnson doesn't have any plans to retire from her volunteer job.

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