Easels stood tall on covered tables, displaying blank canvases. Watercolors would be introduced, but each of the bachelorette party attendees began with a basic outline–a sailboat, a shoreline, a skyline. Idle chatter subsided as the instructor addressed our group.
“Dip your large brush in the water cup and add some light blue and white to your pallet.” Her words carried across the room to more than a dozen pairs of ears.
I chewed my lip and reached for my large brush. I’m drawn to the suggestion of things rather than straight interpretation. I’ll spend more time with a painting created with pointillism rather than the stunning photo-realistic artwork in galleries, studying the effect of light. Show the light I thought as I transferred colors.
“Keep your brushstrokes for the sky horizontal otherwise they won’t look realistic.” She explained which colors to mix on our pallets, how to hold our brushes, which brush to choose, and the effect of application pressure. I sat up front to refer to the sample painting and to observe the technique demonstrations. Also, I sat extremely close to my canvas, I needed to in order to comfortably apply paint when detail was required. I listened carefully, but wasn’t holding high expectations with these eyes. I asked questions when confused. I enjoyed the process of blending the paint both on the pallet and on the canvas to give life to the shapes.
The activity offered slack. I could cover up a sloppy, ill-formed item with additional paint or dilute a mottled hue with a touch of water. I painted with flowing brushstrokes or short dabs or swirls, mimicking the instructors form, instinctively painting along. I wasn’t adding paint to my shirt or the floor, but a few fingers showcased blue paint, oops.
“Are you doing ok?” My sister, the honored bachelorette, would ask intermittently, her canvas next to mine. She’s always putting the needs of others first by nature even when it’s her chance to command attention.
The joyful energy around me, fueled by wine and good company encouraged creativity even as I maintained sobriety. I figured alcohol might sink my low vision art skills.
I closed my eyes to imagine the sun reflecting off the chop when I coxed on the rowing team in college. I recalled how oceans and lakes and rivers from a distance appear to be one color but the closer you get the more variations appear in the morphing liquid. I channeled my inner Bob Ross and grabbed a brush and painted happy little sea swells.
The stromboli baking in the oven sent savory smells my way. My belly growled. The sound-system played a new song, Maroon Five. I relaxed my wrist and swiped more waves onto my scene with watercolor Jaggerish moves, laughing silently to myself. Next, I added clouds to my sky.
“Don’t make them look like rolls of Charmin.” The instructor called out, modeling her version of white puffy shapes against the blue sky.
When I completed my take on a flock of Cumulus, I walked around to compare the works in progress. While there were subtle differences in style/interpretation, all of the artwork contained more similarities than differences.
I resumed work at my easel. I discovered I liked to layer my paint for the objects in motion–the boat, the waves, the clouds, build a particular element as if to let it rise off the canvas and into real life. When I gaze at paintings in museums, I feel a twinge of wonder when my monocular allows me to discern the paint layers of the masters. One day I hope to touch a masterpiece, perhaps the copy of one which was laser scanned and 3-D printed, to sense the texture the artist created.
“Why, if I’m the artistic one, does my sister’s look better than mine?” One of the ladies called out, bemused as she looked at her sister’s painting.
“I need another plate,” said another, fierce determination on her face as she paused for a fresh pallet. Another person said, “Where’s the professional who can finish this for me?” Crosstalk and giggles continued as each lady painted on.
With a smaller brush, I repainted the hull of my ship a few times until the colors popped. It turned into a sailboat I wanted to gaze at, imaging it tacking across the Chesapeake over a few whitecaps on a windy morning. That’s the ticket.
I picked up my fine paintbrush one last time. I signed my initials in the corner with a flourish, sealing in the happy memories of an afternoon collectively well spent.
Have you ever painted a picture? Do you like to paint? What do you like to create? Tell me about it.