I Could Paint That

Who couldn’t do Abstract Landscape Painting?

I arrive early at The Art League’s classroom all ready to CREATE. No need to feel intimidated. Any four year old can do this stuff. In fact, the idea of wielding colors around reminds me of those free-flowing kindergarten days.

Unlike Miss Cotrell’s Kindergarten class, we should have received a supply list and brought items to class.

The other students got the memo. They arrive with so many tubes of paint and fancy art tools that they travel with specialized art tool chests on wheels.

I arrived with a pocket sized notebook and pencil.

After the introductory lecture about how to lay an expressionist base, the teacher sends me off to the store where I spend a couple hundred dollars on acrylics, brushes, canvases and a thing called Gesso, which I had read about but guess I’d been pronouncing incorrectly.

When I return to the class-in-progress, I see two different kinds of student art works:

  1. #1 The Barfed On Canvas.
  2. #2 The Canvas I Want To Buy.

After class, I approach a woman who has done a #2 type painting.

“I love your painting.”

Unmoved, she says something like thank you.

“Do you love your painting?” I ask this hoping she might say that I can have it.

“It’s a lot different from what I usually do.”

I would feel like a jerk saying “I’ll give you $100 for it,” so I don’t.

I regret it.

It happens she’s a graphic designer. I learn there are three graphic designers in the class, looking for their muses. There are also award-winning landscape painters, all taking the class to learn “letting go”.

Our first assignment is to be loose – out of control. Baby, I am the queen of no control. We begin with bold black strokes, applied randomly on large canvases. I call this The Preliminary Barfing Stage. It lays the base for the illness which will continue with dry heaves for another two hours of art class.

My painting is so bad that I leave it in the art school restroom where it belongs.

Later, an artist friend, Allen, counseled, “Make a list of everything you hate about your painting and then do the opposite.”

I give myself permission to sit quietly with a tiny piece of paper. I take a sip of water. I breathe Zen, I dip into gray and stroke one time with my brush. I let gravity have the second turn.

Do you remember the euphoria that comes after vomiting? The chills and fever are done. The stomach has calmed. The terrible illness has finally passed.

With the proper lighting and frame the Hirshorn will have a line and timed ticket entries for Zen Plop Collection.  Don’t you think so?



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4 Responses to I Could Paint That

  1. pat newton says:

    You could easily write a column for a newspaper……oh, but some people do read them, like me, but others are on line….however you do it, for a newspaper or New York Magazine….more people would love your comments. They’re good and creative!

  2. Yes I agree, you could!! I love allen’s advice. I think i will just adopt that as my everyday mantra: do the opposite!

  3. kccoo says:

    I love this – Your on-going search for the “right” art teacher/class is an saga saturated with everything that makes for great reading – hope, disappointment, adventure, reticence, success, not success, people with all of their own quirks – and you serve it up deliciously!

  4. This is funny the way you describe it, but I totally know what you mean. What I have found odd is that some of the “barfiest” paintings I come up with are sometimes the ones that sell first!

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