We had the last art class here at the continuum care complex and I came home with my ugly, blah brown barn painting that will never get signed or hung. I'm not sure if I can gesso over a painting done in oils to reuse the canvas for acrylics but even if it isn’t recommended I might do it anyway rather than waste a good piece of stretched canvas. I'll never produce anything good enough that needs to stand the test of centuries, so my under-priming and paint drying times don't really matter if they cause a future painting to flake over time. I have a tiny canvas my mom painted of a dog that I dearly love---both the painting and the dog---and it's flaking but it took 35 years.
I'm showing you guys a photo of my uninspiring barn because if you've been reading my blog you know how this 12"x 16" work of advanced paint-by-numbers came about. I say that but even though we all traced the same basic drawing, used paints from the same five tubes the oils and didn't have the freedom to do anything other than what the instructor told us to do, when she told us to do it, the paintings all came out different. "Pick up your number two flat brush and load it half way up the bristles with the paint we just mixed." That's how micro-taught this class was.
The instructor asked us if it would be fun for us if she arranged a little art show over in the lobby and I was quick to say, "Not for me it wouldn't" which was followed by class laughter. Then the only guy in the class said, "I would like that a lot. I'm very proud of my painting." Seriously, who would want an art show of all brown barns? Is there a brown barn society out there? I wish I would have had the freedom to at least put a wash of red over parts of the barn, but it is what it is and it was a fun class despite the stern approach the instructor uses to teach it. In fact, once I got used to it that was an element of great amusement to me.
True to her word, the women who left the class for twenty minutes to let a delivery man into her apartment didn’t finish out the last two weeks. I had dinner with her and four others the night of my last class and she asked me if I brought my brown barn home. “I did,” I answered and she said she told the activities director to throw hers in the trash. “I wanted to do it in front of the instructor. No one hurts my feelings and gets away with it!” To refresh your memory of what happen, when Ms Hurt got up to leave the instructor said, “This isn’t a good time to go, I’m teaching something important here!” Of course, she went anyway---who wouldn't---and when she came back the instructor ignored her for the rest of the class.
Me? I was surprised that two weeks after the incident Ms Hurt was still---well, so hurt. I couldn't hold a grudge that long over something that didn't involve a trip to ER. Ms Hurt spent the next ten minutes at dinner badmouthing the instructor while others who'd never met the Elf-on-a-Shelf like-woman jumped on the bandwagon about how she was “stifling creativity” and “that’s not art!” and "she should be fired" to the point I felt I needed to lower the temperature before the pitchforks and torches came out.
“To be fair,” I finally spoke up, “We knew going into the class that it was for beginners and that we’d all be doing a brown barn. She has a militant style of teaching, that's for sure and it didn’t work for you or me and wouldn’t work for anyone looking for a serious course in painting. But several others in the class left very happy with what they learned.” When I finished channeling my dad, the peace maker, Ms Hurt then made the motion one does across her mouth to indicate a zipper shutting it up and looked at me like I’d lost my mind.
Lest you think I'm being a bit of a hypocrite towards Ms Hurt for bad-mouthing the Elf when I did my share of complaining about her teaching methods in this blog. In my defense I never discussed this class with anyone here on campus other than Ms Hurt. The instructor is not getting paid to teach and listening to the others rake her over the coals made me feel sorry for her. No one in their '90s deserves that when they are doing something to share their life's passion. And a light bulb just went on in my head making it clear why my bluntly worded email to the x-florist who asked me to join his Christmas decorating group gave me such guilty feelings. By me discounting my experience in the floral business I was discounting his as well. Like a lot of men, his whole identity is wrapped up in what he did for a living. To me it was just a job.
The next painting class starts in January and the instructor is going to be using a tracing of a vase of flowers and a color palette of six tubes of paint. She says flowers are harder than barns because "you have to see down inside them." Huh? I won't be taking that class but four others in the barn class are signing up.
Oh and by the way, Ms Hurt kept a paint brush from the class supplies because, “I paid my $15 and I should get something for my money!” Say what? The canvas was supposed to be what she got for her $15, not a size 10 filbert brush. I don't understand that logic coming from an otherwise lovely church going woman. The 10-12 year old girl inside me who once stole a cheap trinket from a dime store wanted to tell her that she'll never enjoy using that paint brush. I'm not sure if that little girl was afraid of hurting Ms Hurt's feelings by mentioning the broken Commandment or if my penchant for channeling my dad kept me quiet. I'm quite sure he would have told me that in time she'll figure it out for herself and put the brush back where it came from.
So there you have it, another (fill in our own adjective) post from the Daydreamer’s Den. ©