Oil Painted Cutouts Inspire, Delight Senior Center Artists

Retired professional billboard artist and commercial sign painter Frank Huguelet has tackled many projects in his 30-year professional career painting movie stars and television personalities.

Now during a different stage of life, the 70-year-old inspires and encourages fellow artists who take part in painting classes at the Anderson Township Senior Center. Recently, the retired artist took on a new challenge- creating oil paint cutout replicas of his fellow painters who normally attend an oil and watercolor painting class with him each week.

After painting a cheerful WELCOME BACK sign for the center once COVID-related restrictions were eased, Huguelet started recreating images of fellow painters on plywood, using oil paint and his knowledge of each person. Working from poses chosen by the artists who sent him their photos, each painter was then carefully depicted with professional style and care.

Some artists chose to include paintbrushes and paper as props. Others provided a photo that definitely hints of a little attitude. And props or no props, the artists report something of their own character was transmitted through the final paintings created by Huguelet.


Senior center activities manager Claire O’Connell joked that Huguelet “missed his friends so much (during COVID) that he made them out of wood.”

“Frank has been quite an inspiration to this class,” said Juanita Benik, 82. “He did a tremendous job on all of us. We love what he has done, and I call him debonair!”

“This group saved me,” Benik said. In some months during COVID, life was very bleak and “I came here, and they made me feel at home,” she said. “ I really love the people.”

Artist Marilyn Bishop said she loves the way the senior center has mounted the painting on the soffits above the large room of artists. “I call the display, ‘The Watercolor Angels.’”

Through both Zoom classes and in-person meetings, painters have enjoyed a space where they can ask fellow painters questions and solicit advice on their artwork, said Nancy Anderson. “This is a very cooperative group… a very good group for advice and suggestions,” she said.

Benefits of receiving advice on painting have definitely only been part of the positives experienced by painters, said painter Verna Akin. The group has become a “refuge” for many, some who are providing caretaking for an elderly relative or spouse, even while they themselves are in their advanced years.

Said Huguelet of the project, “It’s nice to paint people you know. I thank each one of them for having the courage to allow me to paint their portrait.”

Anderson’s Senior Center, 7970 Beechmont Ave., resumed in-person operation in the fall, after providing services digitally since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Currently the center is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and offers some classes and experiences online as well.