I Am Supposed to be Artistic

artistic

I’m pretty sure that I am supposed to be artistic:

  • I love sipping wine while looking at pictures
  • My favourite clothing colour is black
  • I am partial to scarves, bold eyeliners, and baggy sweaters with skinny pants
  • I like poking around in art supply stores
  • I prefer the Monet calendars to the ones with kittens in teacups
  • I’m definitely NOT athletic

See?!? Everything about me says that I should be able to pick up a paintbrush and instinctively bring life to a blank canvas. So imagine my surprise to discover that I was the second worst student in my “Introduction to Acrylics Painting” class. There was an older gentleman who was definitely worse than me but I’m pretty sure he was visually impaired and he openly declared himself ‘colour-blind’ on the first day.

Assignment #1 was to paint the standard bowl of fruit. The banana was an immediate problem. It was yellow but not the bright, bumblebee yellow I had paid $8.99 for in the art supply store. Note: the apples were also an odd, purplish red, and the grapes were some weird, translucent green.  Nothing in the bowl (which was a sort of sunset orange) had anything in common with the $100+ worth of paint tubes in my $49.99 ‘artist’ bag from the art supply store. Apparently, I was supposed to mix things together. Hmmm…

Every concoction I came up with wound up brown. EVERY SINGLE ONE! Time ticked by. The woman beside me was already pondering how to add ‘texture’ to the background and even Mr. Colour Blind had managed to create a few semi-shaped blobs. Me?… Still standing in front of a blank canvas squirting paint dollops into egg carton cups and creating nothing but a dozen shades of poo.

Eventually, the teacher helped me and I wound up with a brownish-yellow, a brownish-green, and a brownish-red. The fruit was starting to age by this point, so the colours weren’t that far off. The voice in my head cursed the cashier in the art supply store for failing to point out the need to buy ‘fruit’ colours. I selected a brush and prepared to release my inner-artist…

Like a genie in a bottle, my inner-artist proved to be a bit peevish and refused to come out to play. Or maybe she came out, realized that the situation was hopeless, and vaporized. Who can say? All I know is that my right hand refused to do what I wanted it to do.

I said, ‘paint a banana’ and my right hand created a brown-yellow rectangle with what looked like an outie belly button on one end. I said, ‘paint an apple’ and my right hand made a brown-red circle that was kind of flat on one side. And I cannot even describe the grapes… suffice to say that each grape was almost as large as my apples, and they kept overtaking the rectangular banana. The whole thing started to look like a herd of brown-green aliens approaching a brown-red planet in their brown-yellow spaceship.

As time ran out, I abandoned all thoughts of painting the tablecloth and opted to just surround the fruit bowl in brown-blue, which only made matters worse, since it now appeared that my brown-green aliens were travelling across a murky version of outer space. I consoled myself with thoughts that it was only the first class and obviously no one could be expected to successfully depict a bowl of fruit on day one…

Then the teacher cheerfully announced that it was time to share our work. Everyone spun their easels towards the centre of the classroom and I found myself staring at two absolutely perfect bowls of fruit (painted by a pair of British women who had wound up in painting class because the “Scrapbooking for Beginners” was full). There were also seven perfectly acceptable bowls of fruit. And there was the strange creation of Mr. Colour Blind, who had given up entirely on the still life and declared his painting to be an abstract interpretation of his mood. I made a mental note to NEVER get into the elevator alone with Mr. Colour Blind.

 “Kim has also gone with a more abstract vision,” observed the teacher, clearly opting to be kind. The British women clucked and nodded their heads. The seven perfectly acceptable students tilted their heads to the left and tried to get-on-board with the idea that my painting had been the result of some deliberate action. Mr. Colour Blind looked a bit annoyed that I had stolen his abstract-artist thunder.

In that moment, I thought, “maybe I AM artistic.” And when I got home, I proudly pulled the canvas out of my $38.99 waterproof carrier from the art supply store and placed it on a chair in the corner of the kitchen.

My 11-year-old said it looked “pretty”. My husband said, “It’s probably great. Art’s not my thing.” And my 17-year-old mumbled that it was “fine” as she moved through the room with her eyes locked on her cell phone screen. Only the dog was honest… because dogs can’t lie. He smelled it for a few seconds then walked a few feet away and began licking his butt. Point well-made my furry friend! 

I would like to say that I completed “Introduction to Acrylics Painting” and got better at the whole art thing, but truthfully, I stopped after the week we did nudes because, well… if you can’t paint a banana…

I really don’t understand why I cannot paint because I still feel artistic. Is there a place where sipping wine (dressed in black… with a scarf) while looking at pictures is an art form?

Author: kim scaravelli

Kim lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, with her long-suffering husband, an assortment of off-spring, a charming cat named Winnie, and a less charming (but oddly loveable) schnauzer named Buster.

12 thoughts

  1. Kim, you made me laugh out loud today. I’ve also harbored dreams of artistry, but I can’t even drawn a decent looking stick figure. My middle daughter is a wonderful sketcher and painter – she sure didn’t inherit that from me! (Or, maybe it’s that theory that artistic genes tend to skip a generation.)

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    1. Weirdly, I CAN sketch things in pencil… not with charcoal, but with pencil. I think it has less to do with artistic genes and more to do with the amount of time I spent doodling in junior high french class, but still…

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  2. hehehe..yes, there is a place, come to Elevation Gallery in Canmore on a festive evening and wear the black, the scarf, and drink copious amounts of wine, while perusing the many glassed in rooms of artist work. Your timing on this is perfect as I sit here realizing that tonight is class 3 of my acrylic painting with Bigoudi (whose horse painting hangs over my fireplace) and I still only have one pathetic line of yellow hovering over an equally painfully embarrassing line of blue (supposed to be the skyline but upside down to make it easier??) and I am considering whether I should just quit now or if I should just attempt one last swoosh of paint across it all to create something worth showing tonight while all the others in my class are brilliant artists. The course outline did say “experienced” acrylic painters but I figured I could do anything…I mean, it can’t be that hard, right? Wrong. My yellow field looks several hundred shades different and the blue sky is only perhaps found in psychedelic dreamscapes, not reflecting the photo I have at all. Sigh. To go or not to go…that is the question. Wine might make the class better or at least my painting. Perhaps I should just pour it over the acrylics. Thank you for your wonderful blog today. I needed to know that not everyone walks in to a class and becomes THAT artist immediately. I know I didnt. And after listening to an artist in the room discuss how she wasnt really interested in painting but sat down and painted her dog while she was drunk and it turned out to be one of the coolest paintings I have ever seen, well, I really needed your blog today. hehe

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    1. I hate those drunk-paint-a-dog people. They are like the women who just “throw together” fabulous outfits or let their hair “dry naturally”… on a more practical note… you should definitely go to class! Just make sure you have wine “breathing” for you when you get home.

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  3. STOP right there!!! I am here to tell you to hang in and try another approach. I too took beginner acrylics last winter and felt like a looser in the class. I wanted to quit as it was so embarrassing I was the worst by far. Then I met an artist who told me to try another approach. First paint at home in your happy place when you are in the mood. Make a cup of tea , relax, put on some music now start painting. He said most people cannot paint from real world images until they learn to see a new way. Some lucky people can!! So he had 2 suggestions. First go onto pinetrest, gallery sites etc etc and get find some paintings that appeal to you. Copy them. Again and again just copy!!! Secondly try follow along videos , there are thousands online free. Here is a really big fun pallet knife painting video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-RpNeiifX0. Here is a Van Gogh vase of flowers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekzeTjiKoho. Ginger Cook look up her painting videos. A lavender field https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Lx5eYslYxoHope the links work. Just google painting videos!!

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