Canal Winchester's growing reputation as a community that welcomes and celebrates art got a boost last week when 40 people who attended the annual Heart of Ohio Tole Chapter convention in Columbus extended their stay in central Ohio to study further with artist Robert Warren.
A longtime Canal Winchester resident, Warren has been teaching at his studio, 75 N. High St., as well as at other locations worldwide, for more than 35 years.
His association with the Columbus-based Heart of Ohio Tole Chapter convention started 33 years ago and he has taught classes at the annual event every year since.
He said many of his students wanted more personalized and advanced painting experiences, which led him to offer his post-convention two-day workshop in Canal Winchester.
"We bring them from downtown and they just love it down here," Warren said.
"There are 800-900 students at the convention so those classes are very limited, which is why I had the idea of offering more-advanced painting courses.
"The idea was so successful that this is my second year," Warren said. "We couldn't fit in my studio -- we had to expand to the community center."
According to Warren, this year's class included 40 students from several states and as far away as Japan, South Africa, Australia, Canada and Mexico.
"I think it's wonderful that these people come from so far and stay on after the convention just for a chance to come and walk the streets of Canal Winchester, taking photos and enjoying our quaint town while they learn more about painting," Warren said. "In fact, many of them were already talking about coming back next year."
Canal Winchester Mayor Michael Ebert stopped by the class to welcome the students to the city, which, Warren said, everyone appreciated.
He continues to offer smaller workshops at his studio when he isn't traveling the country. His next trip is taking him to Maine to teach.
"I'd say I'm on the road about 50 percent of the time; otherwise, I'm here teaching and working in my studio," Warren said.
"My wife, Donna, and my daughter, Robin (Warren-Bradley), really support me and helped out with making this work."
Donna Warren is at staff member at the community center in Canal Winchester and Robin is an art teacher in the Upper Arlington school district.
Warren said he is proud of how art-oriented Canal Winchester has become.
"I love that when I'm home, I can enjoy events like Art in the Park," he said.
"Our community is really becoming more and more art-oriented.
"We have a nice art club and art organizations, and the number of restaurants that display local art on their walls, as well as the outdoor dining, I just think it is a good blend of the old and the new," Warren said.