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Paint a Picture

Recently, I went with a group of friends to a place in Skippack called Painting with a Twist. This franchise, located in a small strip shopping center, holds classes in which everyone paints the same painting, while an instructor leads the group. Our three-hour class featured this acrylic, called “Cobblestone Path.”  Yeah, I thought it was pretty ugly when I saw it. I hated the blobs of color, and the entire time I was painting it I felt I was doing a terrible job. Now, though, I have it hanging in my dining room. How to explain this? Well, how many works of art do I produce? I’m pretty sure this is my first since high school art class. Anyway, here’s how it works.

First, you are encouraged to bring wine and snacks. That way you aren’t hungry, thirsty or too stressed out while you produce your first painting since the days when your mom posted your stuff on the refrigerator.  Our group of eight brought a plentiful amount. We had time before the class began to eat and sip on wine, which gave me a chance to get to know some of the people in our group I hadn’t met, and chat with friends I hadn’t seen in a while.

Then we got down to work. The entire class consisted of about 30 people. We sat at long tables with easels, just like real artists. We were given three paint brushes, water to clean them and a palette with all the paint colors we would need already waiting for us.  Oh yeah, and a piece of chalk.

The instructor, a woman in her 20s who told us she was not an artist, stood on an elevated platform with a blank canvas on an easel on one side of her, and the finished painting on the other side. She began the class with the chalk and told us to draw a triangle at the bottom and a long line along one side. We had no idea why we were doing this, but we did.  Then we took the biggest brush and painted yellow on one side of the line. Next step, blobs of red here and there.

“You don’t have to do it exactly like me,” the instructor kept insisting. But since we really didn’t know what we were doing, I thought it was safer to just copy her’s precisely. Periodically I would turn to my friend, Sandy, and check out her painting. Her’s always looked better than mine. She thought mine looked better. Apparently the wine didn’t work–we were already stressing out.

We were allowed a brief break after we painted the inside of the triangle black. After the break, we got into the most stressful part–painting the cobblestones. The instructor illustrated a series of elliptical shapes that she insisted would look like a cobblestone path when we were done. Interestingly, this did seem to work. Even more interesting was the fact that everyone’s came out slightly different.

“Your stones look better than mine,” Sandy said when I was part way finished with the path. I thought her’s looked way better. The instructor came around checking everyone’s canvases. She told Sandy hers was perfect. She said I needed to fill in some of the gaps between the stones. I knew it! Sandy’s really was better! Anyway, filling in the gaps took a lot of effort and I thought I might be ruining the painting, but as long as you’re not standing too close, it looks okay.

The entire painting took three hours. There were long skinny trees and a row of street lights that were especially difficult.  In the car on the way home, five of us rode together, all agreeing we didn’t like the painting. The next morning I showed my husband and son. My husband just shook his head and laughed, but my son said he kind of liked it. And the funny thing was, I kind of liked it too.  My dining room is yellow, and we don’t use it often, so I hung it up in there.

A few days later my mom came to visit. I must tell you that she is an artist who produces some very nice still lifes that I have all over my house. I showed her the picture. She was thrilled that I’d taken up painting!! I tried to explain that I hadn’t but she held out hope. Best of all, though, I know if she’d been able to she would have hung it up on her refrigerator door.



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