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.
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.