#4. take a painting class

In a family full of athletes and sports enthusiasts, I have always been the “black sheep” as my parents would lovingly(?) call me. While my sister was kicking goals on the soccer field and my brother was dominating every sport he tried his hand at, I was the “creative one” writing poems, experimenting with photography, performing monologues and making pottery.

Ready to dive in and paint.

Ready to dive in and paint.

I find I am most at peace when I have an outlet to express myself, whether it’s through words, song, clay or paint. In high school I dabbled in art classes but certainly never tried to claim myself as an “artist.” But it was those art classes that were among some of my favorite. Every morning I’d come in and get rid of all of my stress about tests and drama with friends through every stroke of my paint brush and dab of my pen.

It had been more than four years since my last art class, which is why I wanted to include taking a painting class on the list for my 213 in 2013 Project.

Since the conception of the 213 in 2013 Project, I’ve been spending an increasingly amount of time on Groupon and LivingSocial (just because I want to have fun doesn’t mean I need to pay full price.) So when I stumbled across a “Painting and Pizza-making class,” Mike and I jumped on it and booked the next available session. I’ll talk about the amazing pizza-making portion of this in tomorrow’s post.

A sort-of blank canvas... I've never been known to follow the rules.

A sort-of blank canvas… I’ve never been known to follow the rules.

We showed up at VisArts in Rockville, an awesome company that offers a ton of art classes ranging from glass-making to ceramic pottery. We found our classroom and the instructor warmly greeted us and showed us to our seats while the few remaining people trickled in. After we both eagerly threw on our aprons I looked down at the painting they had chosen for us — a pizza. I felt a pang of disappointment… as much as I love pizza (and boy, do I love it), I didn’t want to paint one. Before I could ask our teacher for some artistic freedom, she opened the class by saying “paint whatever you’d like – this is all about freedom of expression – there are no mistakes here.” I immediately began try to come up with ideas of things to paint.

He makes a pretty cute artist.

He makes a pretty cute artist.

She gave us a very brief tutorial on how acrylics work, demonstrating different blending and texture techniques. Before she could even say the words “you may begin,” I had already thrown up my first strokes of paint. I decided I was going to paint over the pizza that had been previously outlined in pencil on my canvas and started channeling my inner Picasso.

Without much direction in mind, I let my brain take a backseat for a change as my hands took over, blending colors, and making large sweeping strokes with my brush as a concerto played inside my head – my own personal symphony. For the next two hours, as the sun warmed the side of my face through the large glass windows, I took joy in the messes and the mistakes, the imperfections and the freedom. I felt an old part of me come alive again for the first time in years and I loved every single minute of it.

The final product... just because I enjoy painting doesn't mean I ever claimed I was good at it!

The final product… just because I enjoy painting doesn’t mean I ever claimed I was good at it!

Once the two hours were up, Mike and I excitedly revealed our paintings to each other. While both were definitely not the best works of art in the class, to us they were perfect. Mike’s pizza painting has found a home in our kitchen and my “macaron art” is nestled perfectly into the corner of my work cubicle.

I was completely shocked that Mike's painting turned out so great!

I was completely shocked that Mike’s painting turned out so great!

Together, they both serve as a daily reminder to make more time for the things I love and take more joy in life’s little messes.

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