|Don't mention the mountains!
Having just celebrated its first anniversary, Let's Paint Pompey is a fun, relaxing painting evening set in various pubs for a reasonable fee, where you need neither experience nor materials, and you get to bring home your creation and, hopefully, a budding new skill.
We pitched up slightly early as my friend wanted to grab a bite to eat first. I drove, so there was no partaking of alcohol that night. Looking around at the other painters, you couldn't specify a particular "type", but we fitted in. Some had been before, and some were newbs like we were.
I admit I was nervous. I'd never done anything like this, well not since my CSE art in 1987! I love to think I'm creative and I do have a sketch pad, but I don't show anyone my creations. They're just not that good. But I was going to have a good go.
It is really nerve wracking first putting the brush onto your canvas. Our lead painter was a lovely young French woman, so simplistic in her instructions yet not at all patronising. I presume the images are chosen to be striking enough but not too complicated. You can go off-piste, but we were not at that stage yet! We were assured us that nothing is undoable.
We started with the grey to white wash, not forgetting the sides of the canvas, all fine so far. Then the horror of marking out the mountains. The first range was light in colour, so far so good. The second a little darker, third and fourth... well that's where it got scary. I ended up with triangular mountains. (I did forget to colour the side of the canvas now, oops. Just don't look at on the wall from the side!) I looked around at everyone else's - far more rounded and more realistic than mine. I kept going though, adding some white "snow" to the summits of my previous ranges. The tree branches were scary and at that point, everyone who was chatting previously suddenly quietened down with the increased concentration! Then we added the blossom petals. That was the easiest part for me, especially the central bud with the splashes of colour. It was all taking shape now.
Thinking I'd finished, I posed for some photos, proud of my blossom baby. But then, artistic ingenuity struck me again (again?) and I added a mist at the bottom of my triangular mountains. I had finished now, surely. What a great effort I'd made - look at what I'd achieved!
But then inadequacy gripped me. Gazing enviously at my friend's depiction, so realistic were her sweeping (clearly not geometric) pinnacles, I could imagine mounting them in all their glory. She had obviously and purposefully portrayed them so. Why were mine so angular? I had similar assumptions of the beauties all around me. And then I had a dual realisation. One, these artists (yes we were all artists that night) might have depicted a certain aspect in such a manner, but in all likelihood, it was just how it turned out. Two, there was a metaphor for life here. We all think that others have achieved things or are travelling their road on purpose. Most likely, it is a combination of effort and a sort of luck based on a quick decision - where shall I daub my brush next, or in which direction shall I go next? Other people's "things" always look better, but they're not. They're just different. No one actually really even passes comment, we're all just focusing on our own work.
Philosophy aside, there was a feeling of pride as we clutched our Cherry Blossoms on the way out. Mine was to be presented to my mother, for a late Mothering Sunday present. Upon arrival at home, my son did not believe I'd painted it. That, just that, was all the critique I needed.
I have signed up again to another session, Colourful Pompey, later in the month. Watch this space!
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