Over winter break I took part in a painting class in my hometown Valdosta, entitled “The Painted Canvas.” It was being held at our local art gallery and my former place of employment “The Turner Center.” I love that place and attended an art show there the week prior. The art show was stellar, with several local artists showcasing their works for the town to see.
The painting class was held in a vacant building across the street. Easels were laid out in a row up front, cups of water were placed in front of us for different functions, and hair dryers were at the ready in case we needed to dry a canvas. I was the youngest by far, since I will not be eligible for retirement anytime soon, and learned some valuable lessons that I would otherwise not have learned in my younger and more formative years, particularly when it comes to motherhood and alcohol. As it turns out, red wine is good for your heart and you should drink as much of it as you can in the aftermath of a heart attack. At least one woman there had previously had a heart attack, and knew what she was talking about. The more you know!
One woman was also pondering the reasons why she would have one paint brush in her mouth, one in her left hand, and one in her right hand that was actually doing the painting. The woman teaching the class said that it was because when you’re at home you’re used to multi-tasking. You’re beating one kid for their behavior, berating your other kid for raising hell, and folding all of the clothes in your house all at once. Multi-tasking.
More importantly from this seminar, I learned that the actual artist rarely likes their own artwork. We were all much harder critics towards ourselves than anybody else was, despite the fact that everybody’s looked fabulous. Starting over and over again until my painting had ten layers of paint on it and was starched and ironed to perfection was inevitable.
It was surprisingly peaceful to paint my flower for four hours, even in the moments when it was frustrating. Staring so intensely at the contrasting colors made my head spin and I had to step back to see how it looked. I started by lathering the canvas in dark green paint and then free-handed my flower with a red colored pencil. Blending paint while still maintaining the finer details was trickier than I thought.
I applied a few layers of paint and felt like Amy in “Little Women,” making me suddenly wish that I was painting and doing yoga all across the world.
The finished product was a resplendent concoction of vibrant colors and, given its size and subject matter, I’m sure it will make a solid bathroom painting; the kind that you would set on the back of a toilet in a half-bath. According to my teacher, my flower was impressionistic with a leaning towards abstract and therefore, completely “New York” of me.
The class gave me a newfound zeal for painting and has me wanting to harken back to my old-school days of starting a new art project on a whim. Even though my dorm room is too cramped for full-fledged art projects, a girl can still dream.