Have you ever noticed how cyclical life is? I often have a sense of déjà vu when I enter an unfamiliar phase or start a new creative endeavor as if it isn’t new at all and I’ve been here before. Take my latest passion—painting. It seems that my whole life has cycled between writing and art. In fact, sometimes they overlap, as they are doing now.
As I finish preparing my latest book for publication, for the first time in sixty-six years, I am taking art lessons. It took a while to get up the nerve. An honest assessment of my skills forced me to admit they were rusty, very rusty. Also, I was about to tackle a subject I have never attempted before—scenery—and a style I had steered clear of all my life because it involved “filling the page,” with the subject matter.
The impetus for the painting was our backyard, which is gorgeous and soon to be abandoned because we are moving. I wanted to capture it before we left. A photo would have done that quite nicely. I don’t know what compelled me to paint it, but something did. My daughter turned her kitchen island into a painter’s studio, I lined up my supplies, and then I realized I had no idea how to begin.
So, I went online and looked for in-person art lessons in our new neighborhood. What I found was none of the above. They were not in person; they were on Zoom. They were not conveniently located in our new neighborhood; they were all over the county. The idea was for me to submit what I was looking for, then have several art teachers introduce themselves and tell me why they were perfect for my needs. It was a bit overwhelming. I chose two people to contact. The first was obviously experienced and ready to begin immediately, which I was not.
The second was adorable and young enough to be my great-granddaughter. In addition to being a writer and artist, she was a singer-songwriter. I had no idea if she was a good teacher, but she was sweet and enthusiastic and encouraging, all of which won me over. So, we began my new adventure together. I had two lessons and painted like crazy in between. After the second lesson, I made some minor changes and declared my “work of art” complete. My daughter loved it (and she is one tough critic) and said she wanted to take it to our new home. I couldn’t have felt more validated.
I love my art teacher and am grateful for her encouragement and faith that I could do this. I don’t know how to describe the finished product. It is certainly not realistic or abstract or unique. I think it would be a perfect illustration in a children’s book, which is no surprise. In fact, it’s typical of my drawing over the years.
Now what? Now, I’m going to do another painting and keep my teacher in the loop along the way. Once the move to our new house is over, I will reconnect with her and attempt something altogether different. I just read an article that posited you can teach an old dog new tricks. I would like to add that you can also teach an old person new skills … or, at least, resurrect old, dormant ones. But I knew that!