One of my friends had the marvelous idea to take painting classes. She didn’t want to go alone and asked a few of us to join her. Yes, I could see myself wearing a straw hat, sitting in a beautiful landscape in front of my easel, our dogs laying beside me -mixing colors on a palette. What a beautiful scene! Wouldn’t it be great, if one of my masterpieces would hang in someones living room, long after I am gone?
I was all for it and my other friends were very enthusiastic as well. We all agreed, signed up and paid for the classes. Oh, it was exciting. I knew I would have a big advantage, because I make really good pencil drawings of furniture all the time. Not just that, I have seen great paintings in real all over the world. Yes, I knew I would knock it out of the park, I was ready to become the next Michelangelo.
I was dead serious about it and went shopping. I wanted to start with oil paintings right away and didn’t want to waste my time and money on watercolors. I went totally overboard. A kit with oil colors, an easel, canvases, brushes, a palette and so much more. Oh, I couldn’t wait and was eager all day long. Our first class started at 7 pm in a nearby school.
We walked in the classroom, our head held up high and greeted the young kid, who turned out to be our teacher. He wanted us to paint a tree, an olive tree to be exact. Seriously? “How much fun is that?” and where was the tree. I mean did he expect us to paint an olive tree just from memory? I didn’t want to waste my time painting trees, but I was all game and started mixing colors right away. I have seen so many olive trees in Italy and Greece, it shouldn’t be too complicated -if I would just have a photograph. That kid came by, stood behind me and gave me the advice to use some blue in my painting. What was he thinking? “I have seen olive trees in real young man and they are not blue.” I didn’t like him much. Turns out I have no tree talent at all, neither have my friends.
We changed classes and and met again a week later. The teacher was a little bit older, had a good sense of humor and we all felt more comfortable right from the start.
But…same thing, we wouldn’t start painting masterpieces right away. His assignment was a charcoal drawing of Marilyn Monroe. He didn’t expect us to paint it from memory, this guy was well prepared and gave us all a piece of paper with a copy of the original drawing.
Fair enough! I grabbed my charcoals and started. I finished my drawing, it was well done and beautiful. Only problem it didn’t really look like Marilyn Monroe, more like Edith Bunker..no offense Jean Stapleton!
How could that be? I am good in drawing things like furniture pieces, so why can’t I draw faces? I gave it another try and the result wasn’t much better. It looked good, even showed some good technique…but again, it wasn’t Marilyn Monroe.
The teacher came by and I showed him my drawings. I was crushed and felt discouraged.
He turned the picture around and asked me to draw what I saw. That didn’t make any sense at all. Marilyn Monroe upside down doesn’t look like Marilyn Monroe, it didn’t even look like a woman, more like a modern Picasso. Just senseless lines and curves, it was hard to do and I had to concentrate.
I did what he asked me to and the result was stunning. We turned my upside down drawing around and there she was…Marilyn Monroe. How could that be?
He gave me another drawing, layed it down upside down right from the start, so I couldn’t see who I was drawing. Again the result was surprisingly good, it was James Dean.
We talked about it for a long time. I can’t make a decent drawing, when I know what it’s suppose to be, but I can draw or paint anything when it seems senseless. I didn’t understand.
I have perfect images of trees or people in my mind, how they are suppose to look like. I have a mouth in my mind, eyes a nose and I draw it the way I see it in my head, not what I actually see. So why can I draw furniture? Maybe because it’s part of my job and I draw what I see, have no particular image in mind….I stay open minded.
This painting class taught me a lot about myself as well. Made me re-think if I might be open minded enough in general.
Not everything in life works the way we picture it in our minds. Maybe we all need to erase the perfect pictures in our head and make more space for reality? There is no perfect world, there are no perfect people.
As for me, I won’t be another Michelangelo for the moment. This might change one day, when the whole world will be upside down for good…looks like we are working on it.