Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Painting For Absolute Beginners - Week One

Thirty five plus years ago, I took a computer course. It was supposed to be for beginners. I arrived, had no idea about anything, and soon discovered that others were not only switching on their Commodore 64's but had also begun to run the adjacent tape recorder. Some where playing games of solitaire at their assigned stations. I had no idea where to turn the machine on. I had no clue why there was a tape recorder. And so it went. I was already left behind.

I've taken other "beginner" courses in the past. The most recent was a community college course (see blog Feb. 13, 2011 - Computers for Dummies or Photoshop for Pros?) I took my little Nikon camera in the hopes of learning something other than point and shoot. The rest of the class showed up with monstrosities which can only be described as something a newspaper photographer would own...complete with foot long lenses and suitcase carrying bags. After a few weeks, I dropped out. I was behind from day one.

When I saw a six week "Painting for Absolute Beginners" course listed in the seniors' community centre brochure, I thought I'd give it a try. Although nothing is ever certain, the words "absolute"  and "senior" gave me hope that everyone in the class would not be immediately emulating DaVinci or Van Gogh.

I arrived a few minutes early and discovered that the class contained eight women. Most of them had three to five letter names, simple names, old fashioned names, nice names. There wasn't a Dweezil, a  River, an Apple, or a Zuma in the bunch. I tried not to cause too much trouble when the instructor handed us name tags. I resisted writing John Hancock as we were instructed to do.

We were told that this was definitely a beginner class...basic, basic, basic. The artist/instructor showed us some of his work and we were all impressed. It was lovely, it was detailed. He created 3-D art, miniature works, pen and ink and geometric drawings. He had his own style. I began to panic. Not only was his art fantastic, it contained details which were drawn with a fine pen. Should I have taken "Drawing for Absolute Beginners" prior to this course, I wondered. Then I realized it would have been impossible since that begins in February.

I maintained my composure as all the essential materials were discussed and some were demonstrated. We learned about types of brushes and grades of paper. Helpful. It was recommended that once at home, we keep our paint supplies out and readily available for use at all times. This sounded like a good idea because if they have to be packed and unpacked for each use, painting opportunities and efforts would diminish. My mind was racing as I mentally surveyed our house. Where could I find a spot?

Our basement is currently uninhabitable...well, actually it's inhabited but mostly not by hubby or me. The laundry room is too small. Hubby's office is too cluttered. Part of the upstairs bedroom has become my office so it would have to be a choice.... computer, writing, bills OR painting. The floor is carpeted, so, bad idea. The living room has too much furniture and the kitchen...well,..No! The deck would be too cold and my water would freeze. My best option was to set up shop in the main floor bathtub. After all, it's never used.

My daydreaming ended when the instructor handed out supplies....paper, watercolour paints, and water cups. I was nervous and kind of sorry I opted to sit in the front row. What ever possessed me?
We were to paint a red line, then a water line. The paint would not go beyond the line we were promised.
Next, we made a blue line. "I get it." I thought. This is like kindergarten. I'm good at kindergarten!
After adding water we mixed the two colours together...yayyy....purple. I totally understand this. The instructor complimented my purple glob. I felt so successful. This was indeed a beginner's class that I could enjoy. After adding yellow, making green, making brown and a darker brown, we were ready to be given our homework....practice mixing colours at home after setting up your work station. 

I suggested we return our name tags onto the original backing so that we could reuse them next week. Everyone thought this was a good idea. Then I muttered , "and we can all select a different name next week."  The instructor laughed. He had already identified me as a trouble maker early on.

Now my only remaining problem is where to set up shop. Do I really want to paint in a bathtub? Well, if nothing else, cleanup would be easy.

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