Festival of Art chairwoman Dorothy Alling of Searsport is the 2012 Festival of Art’s featured artist, the first time an amateur artist has been selected for the honor.

Alling fell in love with all media while in high school, starting with watercolor. For many years, she painted with oils on canvas and glass; she also played string bass in both the classical symphony and in jazz groups. Then her creative side work took a back seat to raising her family, working in the corporate world, doing community service, serving on boards of directors and volunteering where ever needed.

Since joining Senior College, Alling has rediscovered her first love with watercolors in Nancy Blatz’s courses. She said the thrill of painting is so relaxing and is a great calming influence in her hectic life.

“The beauty of life is just is just a light in front of our eyes if we only open them and really see it inside and out. The ‘music’ of art sings in one’s soul when a person tries to interpret his or her feelings about anything,” she said.

Alling took over as chairwoman of the Festival of Art six years ago. She instituted the dedications of each show to person(s) or group of people who demonstrate what was the best of Senior College, the University of Maine Hutchinson Center and the public at large. Each year, as the festival grew larger with so many artists, Alling said she has been learning from them.

“And it never stops and that is why life is incredibly stunning — there is so much to learn and do,” she said.

Alling’s works reside with friends and relatives and strangers in many states.

Alling attended Ithaca College School of Music and was a member of the Woodstock Artist Guild and Hudson Valley Symphony Orchestra. She worked for IBM for eight years before starting her family. She then changed careers, graduating Summa Cum Laude from Rampo College of New Jersey with a major in international political science and minor in American constitutional history. She went back to the corporate world until her retirement to Maine.

For more information about the Festival of Art, visit belfastseniorcollege.org.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or dernest@villagesoup.com.