Joan Sofarelli, who is 74, says it irks her when she gets comments like: "Oh, what a nice hobby you have when you are old. It must be relaxing."
"Well, not really." she says she answers. "It can be stressful."
That's one reason Sofarelli and other members of the Largo Art Association get together each Friday. They support, encourage and inspire each other.
More than that, they teach each other. Along the way, their work rises to new levels and evolves in new directions.
An exhibit of the group's drawings and paintings opened at the Largo Library Wednesday and continues through November. Most of the artwork will be for sale at modest prices.
Carol Cortright, a library assistant who organizes exhibits there, said this one "exposes a lot more people to art. We sneak the art in on them. I also like the opportunity to give starting artists a place to exhibit."
Neophyte artist Loretta Moran of Clearwater gathered up her courage as she painted watercolors in weekly meetings with other association members at the Largo Community Center.
"Go for it. Go for it," she repeats to herself as she paints. "You can do it. You can do it."
On one recent Friday, she filled her big brush with red-violet paint and drew it across the page horizontally in a wide band, then added fluffy patches.
For the next area, she wanted a more random look.
"Random is very hard for me," she said.
Sofarelli took Moran's brush and tried some strokes. She said a big part of painting is just getting used to the brush, working with it until you get the feel of it and like what you see on paper.
Looking at Moran's work so far, she said, "If you can do all that, then it's just a matter of time."
Across the room, a cry went up from Marge Giroux of Largo.
"Mary Ann or somebody, I need some help with my windows," she said. "They aren't angled right."
Mary Ann Tucci of Seminole, the president of the association, is a willing teacher. She settled in next to Giroux, studying the watercolor of a house painted in pastel purples and pinks.
"You needed a perspective lesson," she said as she showed Giroux where the angles should be.
Tucci complimented the texture of the tree, but advised Giroux to break up the image with some light and transparency.
As Tucci left, she looked over at a painting with liquid blues and greens bubbling around bright orange fish.
"That's beautiful. I love those colors," she said.
Carolyn Shields of Seminole said the group has provided crucial support for her art.
"They are very nurturing here," she said. "The first day I came in here, I felt like I was at home."