Got brave. Forgot the beret.

My brand new painting is gracing my laundry room. I’m not saying “my” because I bought it. I say “my” because the artist is moi.IMG_0891

Take that, Mary Ann.

For the uninitiated among you, Mary Ann was my third-grade nemesis in art class and one of the reasons I’ll never understand the term “art therapy”.

She mocked most of my art in the third-grade hallway without knowing it was mine (name on the back, please).

As one of those crafty girls (I picture her scrapbooking today), her art was neat, tidy, within the lines. Mine was a bit more like creations spurred on by cold medicine—jagged edges, paint running off the paper.

Hey. I have other talents.

Which is precisely why, despite having a father who could paint a mean canvas, I have never pursued art. It terrified me.

I decided it was time to get brave a few months ago. And art was on my list of new things to try. Knowing that I’ve never been very good at it allowed me to set the bar low.

When my friend Gail read my blog entry, “Candidkay gets brave in a beret” about tackling my art phobia, she held me to my resolution in the form of an email. It advertised a deal on hang gliding and “Vino Van Gogh”: “So should we sign up? (not the hang gliding deal–the painting deal. Unless the hang gliding is on that things–that-scare-you list too)?”

Did I mention Gail is a smartass?

I declined the hang gliding and accepted her art challenge.

Because I was pretty sure the wine would help.

Did I mention Gail was on vacation when Vino Van Gogh came to our town?


Turns out my friend Nadine has my same art phobia, even after numerous art classes in her younger days.

So off we went, on our appointed date, assuring ourselves that Vino Van Gogh is the closest thing to an adult paint-by-numbers class.

We arrived early and ordered our wine. I opted for the sparkling variety. I was not here to be a dark and angst-filled vodka-drinking artist. No way. I figured a little effervescence would buoy me nicely.  And Nadine’s wine soon took the look of consternation off of her face. It was working.

In a room filled with women, most of them middle aged, we toiled. We sketched, shaded and blotted our respective canvasses with great care.

Or, most of us did.

Me? Not so much on the “great care” end.

Here’s the thing. My forty-something self? Well, yes, she wanted a decent painting. She wanted her flowers to look like flowers and her leaves not to look like green swords.

But she came in warrior pose. Laughing warrior pose. Turns out, if I followed the gist of instruction and did not try too hard to copy our instructor’s strokes, I did OK. By my standards, at least. Not by the standards, I’m sure, of the woman who spent an extra 20 minutes trying to perfect the stamen on her flower.

I’m not sure mine have stamens.

But I digress. My point was, this woman was a bit of a Janine. And that’s ok. It’s just painful for me to watch the perfectionist at work on a canvas.

The only time I truly screwed up was when I tried to follow directions too closely. Turns out I’m more Georgia O’Keefe than Mary Cassat. The details are fuzzy in my picture and leave much to the imagination.

My delight? Well that was in finding I am who I am.

Messy? Yes. Broad stroke? Oh yes. Creative? Damn straight.

And I liked it. My painting. And myself, with all the imperfections inherent in both.

10492545_1477774532464012_5936384556369392239_nMy creation was really not much better or worse than anyone else’s. And I really did not see any flops from any of us.

The elementary school teacher a seat away from me could not stop exclaiming about how her painting was a miserable effort—“no better than a two year old’s.”

It looked fine to me.

The joy came in liking what I brought to the table. My self critic is a bitch. Truly a Biyatch with all the trimmings.

So, to have her nasty little voice stifled for a night was a gift. I’m not sure if it was the bubbly or my father’s spirit hanging out near me with a beret at the ready.

Either way, I can check this one off my list.

Except Gail has said she expects me to go to another of these events, but with her when she’s back from vacation.

I can only hope that it’s Abstractionism night.








15 Comments Add yours

  1. Gorgeous. I love it. You did perfectly perfect.

    Lord knows we all have a “Mary Ann” in our life. There’s a couple in mine I could gut punch at times, but then really? Are they worth it? No.

    I’d rather hang with my “Gails” and my “Nadines” and let the “Mary Anns” be jealous.

    Sounds like a fantastic time and I bet the next one is even better.

  2. Gail says:

    Love the post and your art. I would much rather have been with you having wine and being creative than where i was. I am happy for you checking things off that list is good for the soul.

  3. Great picture you drew!
    Way better than I would have managed
    Nice way to get things done, brave!

  4. A blank canvas and a blank page (or computer screen)…both terrifying. Good on you for giving it a go – and being ready to go back. Tick that one off!

  5. says:

    wow, i am impressed & i am not just asying that – nice job!

  6. Stepping into creativity is both brave and cathartic. Yay! You did it.

  7. Yay! I love it. The best stuff should really be in or near the laundry room-balances out all the actual laundry. Congratulations on your very cool brave moment. Well done!

  8. Love it! The painting, the post, and that you did it 🙂

  9. Love this! Made me want to go to a vino art night with you! 🙂

  10. Fantastic you for crossing something off the “list”.
    That is always a great feeling.

  11. Congrats, Kay. You did it! Hooray!

  12. lmarieallen says:

    The first person that came to mind when I saw your masterpiece was O’Keefe! I think it’s awesome. I am abysmal at drawing things from life. My people come out with no necks, much to the rollicking laughter of my family. Hmmph! That’s why I take pictures:)

    1. candidkay says:

      So you draw football players:). Big deal. And taking pics takes its own artistic eye!

  13. Ann McHugh says:

    What’s funny is that as we get older, we realize the each of our “MaryAnn’s” had their insecurities too. Maybe not as pretty or as smart. Until we can let go of our past hurts we can’t move on. Taking this class is helping you move on. Bravo to you.

  14. Jim Simon says:

    I have long believed that a blank canvas is a terrifying thing and that you took the risk is fantastic. Personally, I think you are neither O’Keefe OR Cassat… you’re YOU.

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