Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. (Just remember I'm looking through my prism which may or may not be the full story.) Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, December 18, 2021

The Last Art Class

 

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. ©


P.S. I wrote an extra post this week but if you're a subscriber through Mailchimp you didn't get notice. You can find "Fangirling a Fellow Resident" by clicking on "older post" below.


46 comments:

  1. We're a farm family that loves all types of barns, and I like your brown barn, Jean. Your post started me wondering why we see lots of red and white barns in our area. I researched a little and discovered many years ago, farmers needed a cheap way to seal the wood on their barns. They used linseed oil, which turned the wood orange/red. When white wash became available, and was cheaper, they often opted for it. More interesting was your take on human nature. You are definitely surrounded by lots of different personalities and there will never be a dull moment. Are you feeling like it's becoming home to you? We have been in our new place two weeks, today, and it's feeling good to us. Hope you're having some fun Christmas activities this week!

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    1. Interesting about the barn colors. I kind of guessed it was based on cost because that's why battleship gray was such a popular color to paint houses after WWII. It was available in all the Army surplus stores.

      I am feeling at home and have almost from the beginning. I think it was because I'd lived with the floor plan for so long and knew here all my stuff would go. My hallway neighbors are all seem to keep to themselves when in our building, so I have a sense of privacy even though people are close at hand. And trying to figure everyone out will keep me busy for a long time to come.

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  2. I can see where that instructor would stifle anyone who knows about painting but for a beginner like me and maybe a few others in your class, she would be necessary. Sorry Ms. Hurt is still rankled. Like you I find grudges way to heavy to carry.

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    1. I keep wondering what kind of life she had that something so small would bring out that kind of hurt and anger. She was embarrassed in front of the class, I get that, BUT not for something SHE did wrong so why couldn't she let go?

      Most of the people in class were happy with it, I'm pretty sure. My mom took classes like that in her later years and they gave her a great deal of pleasure and filled up a lot of her time. She produced the formula style of paintings but most people aren't that into art to see the difference.

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  3. Sign me up for the brown barn society. I like the painting. The barn is typical of the old farm sites in this area when every quarter of land was settled. It's a tribute to the past. I guess art is in the eye of the beholder.

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    1. It lacks a proper barn door and the woods are so close in the back you know it's not around there. LOL But sincerely, I've never been fond of landscapes by anyone. I did have fun with the class, once I took a reading of the room so to speak and just went with it instead of fighting it.

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  4. I like your painting and really can't see anything wrong with it. Can't you just paint it with red tones now if you want? Or add other things to the painting to make it more to your liking?
    I think you were too experienced to take that beginner's class but I can see why others enjoyed it. Now you will feel ready to get back to your own style of painting! :)

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    1. I downsized all the oil paints out of my life before the move because I thought it would be too hard to dispose of the rags and flammable brush cleaners, etc. in an apartment. I'd have to buy supplies to add red tones now as I only have acrylics now. The studio here is in a free-standing building---for safety---which is now closed until last January when another class starts.

      I've found another class that starts in March at the Sculpture gardens that I'll sign up for. but after the holidays I'll work on my own.

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  5. It seems to me that Ms. Hurt was quite triggered by the art teacher as her hurt level doesn't seem to be warranted by the actual event. There must have been another event(s) in her past that this brought forward again. I agree with you about the paint brush - every time she looks at it, she will be reminded and thus hurt all over again. Your barn painting looks good to me, although I agree with you about the subject and not-to-be-deviated from colour palette...kinda boring. Nothing pops.

    Deb

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    1. I agree about Ms Hurt. I hope the topic doesn't come back up again because I'm afraid I might try digging around in her head for some answers on why it bothered her to that level.

      "Nothing pops..." you hit the nail on the head. It needs a wagon or tractor or as one person in the class said, he wanted to add an old advertising sign on the barn.

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    2. You may have already dismissed this idea, but why not embellish the painting now that you are no longer under the eye of the teacher. Paint those barn walls red! Add stuff to it?

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    3. I answered that very question up above to Ellen D. Basically, I don't have any oil paints and don't want to buy them. And I could embellish the heck out of it and it would still be a barn.

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  6. As a complete non-creative on the painting front, I think the painting is nice, but I can understand why you wouldn't like it given your background. As for Ms. Hurt, some people get their nose out of joint and can't move on. But I can't understand her thinking she should keep that paint brush.

    I like that your neighbors are keeping to themselves on your hallway. Privacy is one concern I would have moving into a CCC. Like on our previous street (which was private with 18 homes) as well as thie development, our neighbors are all pretty busy and private, but we do chat with them outdoors if we see each other and occasionally (very occasionally) gather to meet and greet outdoors at our common gathering area. That's enough for me. And I do feel if I had an emergency, I could go next door in either direction, which is nice.

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    1. It's not just in my hallway that people seem to respect each other's privacy. There are enough opportunities between meals, the lobby fireplace area and all the drop-in classes that everyone is getting their people fix without bothering neighbors. All the people I have talked with when the topic comes up agree the halls quite and no one comes to their doors. Topic comes up because we were given the option to get a doorbell on our apartment doors...not just on the outside door.

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  7. I wouldn't have enjoyed such a rigid Class even if she was trying to Teach me something. *LOL* But, I wouldn't have felt the need to assassinate the Teacher's Character either, as a Volunteer whose trying to Share her Passion and expertise, it's her Style of Educating and it won't resonate with everyone. I did not always have the way people tried to Teach me resonate with me because I rarely followed Convention or was in Compliance, I know, that shocks you huh? *Bwahahaha* My Kids and Grandkids are the same, must be in our DNA. Miss Hurt personalized what happened to her deeply I suspect and why she's still Hurt. Being validated by some of the other Ladies probably made her feel she wasn't being overreactive? I'm glad you took your Sage Dad's approach, he sounds like a very Wise Man and I do always Love me a Peacemaker who will lower the temperature of any hostility towards another Human Being. Since the other Woman wasn't there to defend herself and the others didn't know her, they might form a biased opinion based on someone else's experience, which may never mirror their own experience in an Art Class? I happen to like your Barn and would consider it more a White Barn that would go well with an Urban Farmhouse Vibe that has Neutrals as the Color Scheme. Perhaps you should put it up for Sale, you never know who would Love to own it... or, put it on an Easel by your Apartment as a 'Gift' for whoever falls in Love with it and would Proudly Display it. Art is so subjective and personal, what one person doesn't like another may just Adore. I think you were critical of your outcome, I thought you did a really nice Painting and got something out of the Class, which is what Counts. Even those who might have done a crappy Painting, might have been satisfied with their Brown Barn attempts if it was their Best.

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    1. I like your take on Ms Hurt. I am no where near the patient, understanding and sage person my dad was but every so often I can't help but channel him in situations like this.

      I guess what I don't like the most about the barn is that it copies someone else's original work of art or more likely from one of those books of stuff to copy put out by companies selling art supplies. I can't take credit for any part of it being original---not the theme, the composition, not the color palette, etc.

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    2. OMG, when you explained why you don't like your Barn it reminded me right away of those alleged "Art Classes" they used to Advertise on the back of Comic Books... Drawn Bambi, etc., which I always thought was a fake Class and more an attempt to sell Art Supplies and make regular people think they are Artistic and need more supplies than any Amateur would ever know what to do with? *LOL*

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  8. I like the barn painting but not the rigid class. My Mom was a landscape artist and eventually branched out. My daughter is an amazing artist. Obviously that gene skipped a generation! I appreciate ALL of your art!

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    1. My mom was all about the landscapes too but did a few barns and a special old house that she did for me. When I moved I gave it to my niece.

      There are elements of painting and drawing that ANYONE can learn if they are interested enough, and then there are the gifted ones who can do anything. I have not known very many gifted artists in my life and I am not one of them by any stretch of the imagination. I'm more the persistent type who keeps trying or at least I did until I had to take a long break for caregiving.

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  9. Getting an extra post is receiving a Christmas present!

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  10. An interesting post that made me think, now I have a headache..................

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  11. I think your picture came out nice but I can't draw or paint to save my life.

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    1. No need to know how to draw or paint with this instructor, trust me.

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  12. Is there a community college near you. Their teachers might be of better value.

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    1. We have many colleges and universities in the area but the next place I'm signing up for lessons will be at our world famous sculpture garden. They have quality classes taught by qualified instructors. There is one called working with acrylics that will be just what I need.

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  13. In 1922, Georgia O'Keeffe came up with a painting titled "My Shanty ~ Lake George." Here's what she had to say about it:

    "The clean clear colors [of a Lake George shanty] were in my head. But one day as I looked at the brown burned wood of the shanty, I thought, ‘I can paint one of those dismal-colored paintings like the men. I think just for fun I will try — all low-toned and dreary with the tree beside the door.’

    In my next show, ‘The Shanty’ went up. The men seemed to approve of it. They seemed to think that maybe I was beginning to paint. That was my only low-toned, dismal-colored painting."

    Seems to me her shanty has something in common with your barn.

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    1. That's a pretty cool quote. Her work body of work is anything but "low-toned, dismal-colored painting."

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  14. Ms. Church Lady is the kind of person that gives a bad name to us other Church Ladies.

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    1. I am guilty of shoving all Church Ladies into the same parlor. But you are right to remind us all that generalizations are rarely fair.

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  15. Quite a situation. I understand why Ms. Hurt's nose got out of joint--mine would have, too--but I think she overreacted. And stealing a paintbrush is stealing from the community, not from the teacher she felt wronged her. I mean, the best response is to simply stop taking her classes, period. Or she could be a grownup and speak calmly to the woman and tell her she didn't appreciate the way she chose to handle the situation and that will be the reason she no longer takes her classes.

    Not all who age attain Wisdom, apparently.

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    1. I totally agree she over reacted--and so did the teacher at her leaving---and that her taking the brush didn't hurt the instructor...just the next student who gets that painting station.

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  16. I like your painting far more than you do. And hey, it's your painting -- you can paint over the barn in acrylic and it should work in well enough. Also, you can gesso over just about anything, including oil, so long as it's dry.It was kind of you to stick up for the teacher to Mrs. Hurt. But I don't think she'll have any guilt about using her brush. Doesn't sound like she has much of a conscience. In terms of instructors, there are some very good instructors on youtube if this isn't the one for you. You could even have a group that work with the same material, possibly together or independently.

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    1. I wondered if I could mix oils and acrylics...not so much for this painting but I have another I was working on before my husband's stroke that's not finished and can't remember what medium I was using. It's close to being finished.

      I'll start painting after the holidays and there is a class in using acrylics at the sculpture garden in the spring I might sign up for. There classes are pretty good, I've taken things there before...sort like your Southern Exposure experiences.

      Thanks for reminding me about YouTube. Never had that before when Iw as really active in the arts.

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  17. I laughed out loud at your question: "who would want an art show of all brown barns?" I, too, am incredulous. I'm sorry about this instructor, but I don't think I could hold a grudge about her either. Maybe Ms Hurt will get over it.

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    1. They are both really nice women, just entirely different. The instructor lets stuff roll off her back while the other internalizes too much.

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  18. I like your barn but sounds like class was too basic for what you want to do. Maybe they should offer a painting refresher course that would result in each participant identifying in the course of doing an original painting what they needed to brush up on -- though a little more demanding on the instructor. That 90+ yr old may have wanted to keep it all simple as possible for herself as instructor.

    Am enjoying reading the saga of your CCC living experience. Gives me a feel for what I'm missing by my choice to forego moving into a LTC community. Of course, I had some idea having spent my final work years in the better ones in our area, but an actual resident's view is a better perspective. Guess it's a trade-off of pros and cons for whether to stay in my home or move into LTC though likely better when I was younger, especially since I've slowed a bit.

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    1. The instructor has been teaching this same kind of basic beginner's class in thee same kind of senior communities since the seventies. For a leisure time hobbyists it works.

      It is a trade-off. I can't say I miss very many things from my old life. Don't miss worrying about the house and yard or getting down to the mailbox on icy days or keeping the snow shoveled. I get all privacy I want. The only thing I ready don't like is how busy it is for shopping the area. Once I get my new glasses and spring comes finding all the back ways to places I want to go will be a priority.

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  19. Maybe your art instructor is the president of the Brown Barn Society. ;-)

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    1. Could be. LOL My niece and her husband came to visit and they said in one of the states they travel through last summer had a lot of white barns that looked like my painting.

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  20. I think it would be fun to see what the differences were in the end paintings. I don’t like to be bossed but I can see why some people would like the class. The teacher obviously thought she had been disrespected by Mrs. Hurt.

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    1. They both thought the same thing about each other but one over reacted.

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  21. You are WAY too hard on yourself! Having the subject matter chosen for you and the oppressive teaching methods employed isn't the way to encourage creativity in my book. Yet I'm betting your barn was one of the best in the class.

    Pull out a canvas panel, tone it with a color you love, pick something YOU would like to paint (don't be afraid to copy something) and have at it!

    If you really think you'd do better with some guidance don't forget about 'Paint Coach' on YouTube. He's a good instructor, isn't teaching for rank beginners and his methods would be just as good working with acrylics.
    Check him out here:
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCC_J48PF1BcUV6fmCBo2HKQ

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