Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Art Class #2 -- Not Quite As Successful

There, I've said it flat out in the header. Class number two was not as successful.  Let's get this over with, shall we?  Here's the photos:

What I started with this week...

What I finished with this week.

Allow me to start by saying I had NO idea painting a still life was so difficult. I am not kidding about that.

The day started with me in a total state of anxiety. The other happy vegan scheduled an appointment for us in Key West for some business before my class, and I had some other stops to make on the way down. Traffic was awful getting into the city, and we were so late for the appointment, we had to reschedule completely. This sudden rescheduling meant we had a little open time between obligations, so off we went to Sugar Apple for the best sandwich in the Universe (come on, you know by now....) their tempeh reuben. We ate outside at their little bistro table, and it was (aside from the car ride down) the first time so far that day I didn't have someone to call, something to write, something to bake, something to package, something to cook, or something to do. I could actually feel my body beginning to just melt, and that was not a bad thing.

After lunch, we picked our way around town, going to and fro, completing errands. There was still a little sliver of time left, so we headed over to the Wyland Wall at the old Waterfront Market. I grabbed my camera, and began to take photos all the way around the wall. Then I just stood there and looked at it. What I found so remarkable is that looking at this beautiful art up close I realized just how awful a surface this must have been to painted upon. It's concrete, as most of his walls are probably painted upon. But, it had cracks, holes, and other blemishes that just seem to vanish when I look at the mural in totality. I have some beautiful photos, but want to devote an entire post to the wall, so for now, let's move on.

After the wall, the other happy vegan dropped me at TSKW for my next class. He went on to continue errands. I took a seat, and looked at the subject for the week.  Still life. Looking at the teacher's board up front, I kind of wondered how the heck I was going to paint that in the allotted time, but after last week I was much more relaxed. I reminded myself I'm here to learn, and I just sat back and had confidence I would do as assigned.

The class began with a little recap of some basics, and then immediately to the paints. I really had a problem this week. I couldn't grasp the light to dark concept, and I couldn't visualize the bowl the fruit was in. I still can't. The focus was on blending colors, light to dark, and shapes this week. Aside from the blending, nothing came easy for me, absolutely nothing.

I was falling behind with virtually every stroke. If you look closely at my painting, you may be able to "find" the plum that I "lost" (I found it as I was getting up from the table to leave, so I hurriedly sat down and put it back in the painting--not shown here), and I lost several of my grapes. That is pretty obvious I think. My grapes look like olives, my smaller of the two oranges looks like something from another planet, and my bowl.... that bowl. It's just not working. At one point in class, I actually had to make myself stop and just breathe. I was missing important lessons the teacher was giving because I was so far behind, I couldn't apply the techniques he was imparting as he was doing them. Then when it got time for me to do what I had missed, it just wasn't the same. I'm not the only one who felt lost at times, those seated by me had similar struggles. But, there were also what seemed like exceptionally accomplished artists in the class as well. As I looked around at some paintings being carried out the door at the end of the day, I said aloud to many "so THAT'S what it was supposed to look like....." No matter that I felt lost, I did laugh and crack jokes to anyone who would listen, just to crack through the frustration that we were all feeling.

Still life is hard. I have looked at this week's painting a lot since I got it home. I see nothing but flaws, and want to continue to work on it. But, I'm not going to to that. I'm using my paintings as somewhat of a visual diary to chart my progress. I don't want to go mucking that up.

Funny thing about still life paintings. They are among my favorite subject matter. I've been drawn to paintings of flowers my whole life (I think that really comes from my mom), but one of the paintings I treasure most is one I found at an antique and junk shop in the Northeast. It's the same shop where my dad spent far too much money to buy me an antique china cabinet after I lost possession of a treasured one many years ago. I was roaming the dusty aisles of this metal warehouse/barn type place and found a chopped up piece of drywall, or something like it, lying against a wall. The edges were all jagged and unfinished, it was not framed. On that crappy piece of trash, someone painted the most beautiful still life I think I've ever seen. I picked it up and took it to the counter. It was $3.00. When I was preparing to move here from up there, I had a lifetime's worth of too much clutter to get rid of. 90% of it went to charity. That painting I refused to part with. I think about it often, and am looking forward to the day when I actually have a wall in my living quarters to display it on, for now I do not. But, I'm not sorry I kept it, and think it was quite the bargain.  I thought about that painting quite a bit as I labored over my sad little still life in yesterday's class. I don't think that artist struggled on that work as I did on mine, but I wonder if they were as critical. I sure hope not, because it's quite a treasure.

I've got more classes on tap. I really want to paint a chicken, and am hoping that's one of the subjects in this series. I'm already planning to take another round of these boot camp painting classes sometime over the summer when things slow down a bit here. I knew February would be tough fitting this in, but this was one of those things that I wanted to do so long, I felt if I didn't go for it now, I might not ever.

So, there you have it.  Art class #2 under my belt. All that and a bag of chips.

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