Thursday, January 19, 2012

Art Imitating Life Imitating Art

Art Imitating Life Imitating Art

Last night I enjoyed a girls night out at Canvas & Cocktails learning the basics of acrylic paint.  What a fantastic idea.  The studio has a really fun, creative vibe and a fully stocked wine and beer bar.  First step, grab a drink.  Then, put on your smock, get your palette ready, and take a seat at your easel.  A very peppy instructor then guides you step by step as your recreate the night's "featured painting."

We start out slow.  Easy basics.  Mix some yellow and white paint, and paint the top third of our canvases using "figure eight" strokes.  Same thing with orange and white paint until about another third of the way to the bottom.  Its all good.

Then, we're told to paint a green hill.  Hmm... Thats not green; were we really not supposed to wash our brushes? ... and that doesn't really look like a hill.  Oh well, lets move on...

A tree?  Ok.  Here goes.  Black and brown paint mixed together.  A long brush stroke down a good portion of the canvas, and then a few more at the bottom to create the thickness of the trunk.  Sure, that looks pretty good.  Now, branches.  Branches?

I dip my brush in the paint, take it, and make a movement that looks like I'm sort of adding dramatic flair to the Nike swoosh.  Creating a shape on my canvas that looks nothing like a tree branch.  I look to my right, and to my left, at my friends painting the very same piece.  I look in front of me at the next row of easels.  Everyone has made branches!  Very pretty branches!  PANIC.  Whats wrong with me?  Why does the last "branch" I try at the bottom look so phallic?  Is my painting ruined?

The instructor announces a ten minute break.  I am tempted to stay put and try to fix my branches, but I heed her advice.  Which is, Don't.  Don't try to fix anything.  Leave it.  Let it dry.  Walk around, chat with your friends, drink some more, and shop a little (the studio also features, obviously, some fabulous jewelry & accessories).

I do as I'm told.  (Later noting that the me of ten years ago would have most certainly ignored her, in a type-A perfectionist attempt to perfect.)

I sit back down.  I keep on painting.  Adding layers, adding texture.  Hmm... I'm kind of liking my painting after all.  Take a sip.  Laugh.  Admire my friends' work.  More layers.  More texture.  Get up.  Take a step back.  Look at my painting.

I really like it.

I keep on painting.  Add the final touches.  Try to go back over and cover that super weird branch with some orange paint.  A partially successful endeavor.  I can correct some of my mistake.  Some I can't.          

And its gorgeous.

Especially when I hold it up next to my friends' paintings and look at the four pieces together.  Four women leading very similar lives; all in our mid-30s to early 40s; all sending our young children to the same Jewish schools; all trying to balance work and contributions to our community with time for ourselves and our families.

Look at the beauty of our collective work.

p.s. a picture of the poem "How to be an Artist" by SARK appears in this entry as a shout out to my dear friend Amy (yes, I'm naming names; how many "Amy"s do you know?) for telling me to write this blog.  Now go paint!



  1. I love, love, love this post. And will be doing something similar at Children's Art Studio --- this year! I can't wait to get started. Thanks for sharing!