I’ve been taking a beginner’s painting class, and having struggles. Every Monday night, Leslie and I pack up our free-with-class satchels of acrylic paints and brushes, and go eat at a diner. That’s not the hard part; I’m really good at diners. Then we spend three hours in a nice big room painting. Our instructor is a wisp-thin peanut-sized woman with a very deep voice and the flattest Plains accent I’ve ever heard. She says wonderful things like, “I could tell you a story about the 1800’s and why that happened,” or “I’m telling you for the fourth time: she lacked vision.” She gets excited about the seven different kinds of folds, or Sargent’s uncanny prowess at painting hands.
Every single thing about this class is too hard for me. I choose terrible places to set up my easel and end up with a hinky perspective. I’m paranoid about my non-existent drawing skills and spend way too long trying to get a shape right before starting to paint, and then end up with a flat texture-less picture. I have no sense of placement or composition. I can’t see colors as they actually are, I invent impossible geometry, and I have trouble with spotting highlights. It’s like every instinct I have deserts me when I get in there. In spite of all this – actually, probably because of it – I’m really enjoying it. Leslie said it best – it’s a three hour problem that’s none of my usual problems. It’s completely absorbing. There’s no time or room to think about anything except what I’m doing. So I’m having a really good time with new words, techniques and ways to think about things. While I’m not going to be any better at painting after the class is over, I’ll have learned a lot and enjoyed five weeks of time well spent outside my comfort zone.
Plus, I have paint on my gray Converse slip-ons. Total street cred.