Last night I went to my Still Life class at Barnsdall Art Center. Daughter Liz and I are taking this class together, but, unfortunately, my trips to Texas have meant that I have missed several. (Not counting last week when we played hooky and went to dinner instead.) Ray is taking a ceramics class at the same time a few classrooms down.
The truth is that none of us were enthusiastic about going last night. It’s tough to drive across town in traffic to get to a class at 6:30. Plus, I have missed so much that I have little idea what I am doing and I had no idea before the first class since I have never once in all of my life taken anything related to painting. This is virgin territory for me and I had concluded that maybe I needed to just accept this is not for me.
Not to mention that my instructor has a penchant for talking to us while we paint about all the various conspiracy theories he has discovered throughout history. This seems like an odd obsession for an artist (aren’t artists less concerned about conspiracies as a rule and out living a more free-wielding life?)
Anyway, Ray, Liz and I all half-heartedly made the trek and went to our classes. After all it was next to the last one for this term. (And only my third.) I apologized to the instructor for being gone. “I thought Texas had swallowed you,” he said. (I omitted the dinner hooky date last week.)
The gist is this. We all ended up after a great evening. Ray arrived to find that several pieces of his had been fired in the kiln and looked impressive; Liz and I discovered that the instructor was off his conspiracy talk (well, except for maybe 10 minutes) and instead was more than willing to offer advice when asked. (I basically said, “I’ve forgotten everything. Now how do I start?”)
Liz’s painting came out really well. (Sorry, no photo.) I wouldn’t say mine is a masterpiece, but I can say that I understood more of what our instructor wants us to do.
Over the evening he said to me:
“Long strokes and then twist the brush.”
“Leave hunks of color and enjoy the contrast between the colors on the canvas.”
“If you make a mistake, leave it. Sometimes that’s what gives the painting character.”
I did all of that. I focused. I ignored my discomfort at not knowing what I was doing. I felt happy that I put some colors on the canvas that I thought were pretty together (I enjoyed the contrasts).
Alas, this is what I learned once again about myself:
Go anyway. Do it anyway. Don’t listen to that nagging voice that says, “Why go? You suck, remember?”
Every once in a while I am reminded that when I protest the most not to do something, most of the time I need to go do it. Usually it’s just that I’m afraid I’ll feel stupid and make a fool of myself.
Funny, I never feel that way about dancing and my children assure me I look stupid and am definitely embarrassing them. The difference is that I love dancing so I don’t care.
I might be starting to love painting.
I definitely like it a lot more than I would have ever guessed.
I hope you are all out doing something right now that is officially out of your comfort zone. If not, then plan something. I can tell you that you will feel uncomfortable and you might hate it, but at least you can say you gave it a try. Oh, and it is possible you might actually like it.
Here’s my painting. I know. Not museum quality. But look at those colors!