Can You Paint An Elephant? I Dunno If I Have That Much Paint!


I’ve started painting again.  I haven’t painted in many years.  I took art all through highschool, and a couple of classes in university.  Somehow, I was never able to loosen up enough to be adept at it.  I guess looseness has come with age, as I’m more pleased with my work now than I ever was before.  I no longer have to get a good mark, or paint “meaningful” things, and I’m free to do whatever I please, regardless of who else it pleases.

Funny thing is, it seems to please people.  Maybe not professional artists, or art critics, or teachers.  I’ll never be able to do this for a living, I’m sure, but I have sold several paintings, and it’s very satisfying.  Far more so than trying to sell handmade yarn, or knitted goods.  People are not willing to pay what those things are really worth.  Is it because they’re “woman’s” art, considered more of a craft than an art really?  Because honestly, I’ve had people try to talk me down on a $20 handspun hat that took many, many hours of work.  It’s frustrating.  I was often not even making back the cost of my materials.

I buy my art supplies at the dollar store, honestly.  Maybe if I was professional, I would look down on me, but the cheapness makes me fearless.  It doesn’t matter if it’s good.  Mistakes don’t matter. 

I’m a dabbler, I know.  I always have to be making something.  I have dabbled in spinning, knitting, crochet, sewing, embroidery, cross-stitch, paper crafting, photography, singing, flute, guitar, writing, etc., etc.  I have taken to cooking, too, which is not only creative, but super-tasty.

Lately I have been stressed at work.  Fifteen years of the constant grind of front-line client service is getting to me.  I think too much.  I worry too much.  So, I’ve been seeing a therapist to try and find some coping mechanisms.  He looks like Leonard Maltin, and I’m tempted to discuss movies with him.  It’s a pretty good look for a therapist, really, when you think about it.  He’s been very helpful.  Like most good therapists, he seems to clarify more than instruct; I find my own solutions.  The painting was my idea, but he wholeheartedly approved it.  Apparently it uses a different part of the brain, not the super paranoid worrywart part.

Oddly, most of which I learned about light and shade, composition, perspective, and the art of seeing, I did NOT learn in university.  The best teachers I ever HAD were those I had in highschool:  Mr. Rainey, Miss Schmetz, and Mr. McKeen.  Thankless work, that, being a highschool art teacher.  These were all very talented people;  unique, vibrant personalities.  A lot of students took art because it was considered a “bird” course.  Unlike the “academic” stream, we were all squashed together, regardless of our abilities or lack thereof.  There was a lowest common denominator – you had to show up, and you had to create something.  I found, though, that there was a wealth of information being presented, if you cared enough to absorb it.  A lot of it comes back to me, usually with the voice of the appropriate mentor.  And if you knew Miss Schmetz, that was quite an interesting voice indeed.  I’m still cagey about chewing gum.  Mr. McKeen was soft-spoken and gentle, a really lovely man.  But I think everyone’s favourite was Mr. Rainey, that red-headed, bearded, bundle of creative energy.  There was a man who loved his work, and his students. 

So, back at the old BMLSS, down the very bottom of the hill, through the auto shop, to the weird and wonderful world that was Mr. Rainey’s class, was one of the best places I knew to be.  It’s gone now – the whole school is gone, actually. 

But the spark is still there.  Now, though, it’s for the sheer love of it.



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