My grandfather was an artist. I remember seeing india-ink sketches of dogs on his wall; I can picture a stub of drawing charcoal in his hands. He hadn't painted in years when I asked him for a picture for my college graduation; he obliged his only granddaughter with a pastel-yellow floral still life, one that I display every spring over the mantel. It was his last painting.
I have my mother's first and last paintings, too, the first a landscape, the last a still life in autumnal shades. She didn't get to finish the latter herself; ALS weakened her limbs before the background was done. A kind friend who attended the same painting classes finished it for her, only signing the back in case we wondered about the discrepancy in style.
High school art classes were challenging for me. I gave my one and only oil painting, an abstract of a blown-up clock, to my brother. Since then, my only forays into creative expression on canvas have been sessions at sip-and-paint franchises, following step-by-step exercises in the hopes of duplicating the instructor's picture.
I set a goal for myself this year to paint an original piece. The universe must have heard my intentions, because within weeks I opened a Seton Cove flyer to find a class entitled "Painting for Well-Being". My last two Thursday evenings have been spent in the Cove's beautiful cottage downtown, paintbrush in hand. Our small group was led by Christiane, who gave us seemingly simple tasks to stoke our creativity and focus, and then allowed ample time to create, building on or even covering that which we painted first.
The two-hour sessions flew by quickly. My usual end-of-workday tiredness slipped away as I focused on color and placement, texture and emotion. I felt so much more relaxed on my drive home. I think my grandfather's easel will be dusted off this summer, and I'll be visiting the art store for some fresh acrylic paints.