Drawn to art

There are three things I have always wanted to do before I die: skydive (at least) once, learn to play Brahms on the piano, and learn to paint. Having recently turned 46, I’m at a stage in my life where I realize that the ride is half over, so if I’m going to do any of these things, it had better be soon.

It is highly unlikely that I will be able to do all three. While I don’t think there’s anyone who loves music more than I, and even pride myself on a rather extensive knowledge of classical music, I have found, through hard experience, that I have no musical talent whatsoever. Frankly, I have a better chance of meeting Brahms than ever playing his music. Some of us are just born to listen.

I intend to take up skydiving just as soon as I can get over my fear of flying. I do fly, when I have to, but I loath the experience. In fact, it’s my very hatred of airplanes that makes me think I can do this: I hate them so much I honestly think I’ll jump out of one just to get away from it.

But for the moment, I’ve decided to try my hand at the third, somewhat more realistic goal: learning to paint.

A good friend of mine introduced me to Edwina, a 70 something art teacher from England. Edwina is, to put it mildly, a hoot. Barely five feet in height, she has so much energy she simply dominates the room with her presence. And she talks exactly like one would expect a 70 year old English art teacher to talk. Combine the voices of Queen Elizabeth and Alfred Hitchcock, and you’ve pretty much got the idea.

Edwina suggested that I start off a little more modestly, using soft pencils, so I could see if I had any aptitude for this before I invested in oil paints, which can be pretty pricey. A $20 investment got me 3 soft lead pencils, an eraser, an easel, and a sketch pad, and I was ready to add second rate artist to second rate poet on my resume of dubious accomplishments.

My first attempt was not what one might describe as an unqualified artistic triumph. If you click the pictures, you’ll get a better view:

Edwina was not impressed. “Oh, NO!” she rebuked me, clearly horrified that she had allowed such an imbecile into her midst. “Young man, you’ve got it all WRONG! You’ve got to go for the SHAPE of the thing! Don’t worry about the details! It’s the SHAPE that matters most at this stage!”

Oh, ok.

I made a few more attempts at the pipe. I could tell that Edwina was finding it something of a challenge to come up with anything positive to say about my efforts. “Ummm, that’s…..a little better.”

As the evening progressed, so did I. After several more attempts, I finally managed to come up with something that looked kinda sorta like a pipe:

Finally by the end of the evening, I actually got Edwina to say, “Now young man, THAT’S more like it! Maybe you have some hidden talent after all!” Yeah, she really talks this way.

And I finally finished up with this:

No, I don’t think I represent much of a threat to the legacies of Mssr’s. Monet and Renoir. But it was fun, and gratifying to learn that after only two hours I could create something with my own hands that somewhat resembled the object I was trying to draw. I needed this.

Now, where’s that parachute?


9 Responses to “Drawn to art”

  1. May 16, 2008 at 6:26 am

    You are much too modest. (at least with your poetry) 😉 Your resume would have to state that you are in a “class above” an “elite” a “mesmorizing” poet.

    Awwww, shucks, ma’am! You’re way too kind. 😉

    A fellow blogger sis of mine has an artistic gift if you want to check her out: http://trishatruly.wordpress.com/2008/04/29/because-she-asked/

    or http://trishatruly.wordpress.com/2008/04/30/theyre-coming-to-take-me-away/

    I just did, and yes, she’s quite talented. If I could get to half that level I’d be satisfied.

    … and I promise your artistic skills blow mine out of the water. You can state that on your resume. I would love to meet your Ms. Edwina. She sounds fabulous!

    She is. And so are you! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. May 16, 2008 at 7:06 am

    Interesting, interesting.
    I commend you for starting something new. Was thinking about painting myself too the other day, mostly because of the colours of spring and being inspired by them.

    I’d be way worse than you. Was never good in school at painting. Original maybe. 😉

    And I like your first subject choice. Who would have known. 🙂

    Hope you aren’t as hard on yourself as DiRu as she’s way too big of a perfectionist. Judging from your poetry though, well, I can see you wanting to get it perfect too.

    Thanks for sharing. Always good to hear news.

    Hey, Spaz! Well, I’m glad you think of me as a perfectionist. 😉 Perfecting the drawing doesn’t seem like it will come easy, though.

    I think you should paint. I’m sure you’re great at it.


  3. May 16, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Smith, it’s good to hear from you! Made me laugh! (I really must work up my post on the art lessons I had at age 11 and 12.) Yes, you have to start out drawing and then water colors. I enjoyed it for two years.

    I’ve always said if I really got seriously suicidal, I’d go skydiving! Dang, that would scare the bejeebers out of me and probably give me a heart attack. But if you do it, get a video and share it.

    It would probably end up on “America’s Most Embarassing Home Videos!” 😉

  4. May 16, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    I never have gone sky diving but I have gone para-sailing. Don’t have to fly for that one. I good pull from a pick-up truck or a boat and voila you are airborn. It’s a blast.

    Hmmm. I’ll have to think about that one…..

  5. 5 Sam
    May 16, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Pretty cool, Smith. Of course I’m drawn to the fact that you chose pipes as your artistic muse, but besides that the work is impressive for a newbie. I’m not an artist but love fine art, so it’s great to see you tackling this.

    Thanks, Sam. I’m not that good, but it’s fun and, who knows, maybe in a year or two I’ll have something good going here.

  6. 6 Red
    May 17, 2008 at 9:07 am

    It takes practice, Smith. You KNOW pipes, so pipes are perfect for you to learn. Some folks come outta the womb with pencil in hand, ready to rock .. some of yall have to work on it. They’re great attempts, really. You’ll get the hang of it!

    Thanks, Red! I chose pipes because, as you said, they’re something I know. But one thing this experience has taught me is that you don’t really know something until you’ve tried to draw it. Because I work with them all day, I just took it for granted that I knew what they looked like. But it’s like I’m seeing them for the first time. Pipes have a lot of funky contours, so they’re not as easy to draw as I thought. This realization alone has made this a worthwhile experience.


  7. May 17, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Hi there.Do I notice a touch of mid life crisis?

    Something like that. But I think learning to draw is a bit healthier (and more aesthetic) than a leisure suit and a coke habit. 😉

    I like your first attempts at art and Edwina sounds a riot,but I really must warn you,painting is very rewarding,but only to the people who know how,for the likes of myself it can be hell on earth.

    Hmmm, I’ll have to bear that in mind. But I’m sure you’re being too hard on yourself.

    But with some soothing classical music in the background it can be enjoyable until your painting starts going wrong and you don’t how to righten it.
    Parachute jumping is something I would like to do too,but I’m a bit scared of hitting the ground.

    Well, since you typically jump from an altitude of 4,000 meters, for the first 3,999 of them you have nothing to worry about, right? 😉

  8. May 19, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    I’ve always been in love with the arts. I actually used to be able to play some Brahms (I had a teacher who would only teach me classical pieces), but it’s been a while since I’ve played any classical music. After trying out so many instruments, I’ve found the piano to be the best.

    Brahms? You’ve just moved up several notches in my opinion. 😉

    You seem to be heading off to a good start for painting. Edwina sounds like a grand lady to have around, she seems to know what she’s talking about. It takes time to learn how to move with pencil, but keep practicing and you’ll be on your way. Sometimes if you just let loose on the paper instead of trying to get it exactly right, it turns out better. The pipes are such a great choice.

    Thanks for the enouragement! It’s been fun so far!

    A friend of mine went skydiving a few months ago. He loved it so much that he went twice in the same week. I would never do it, but he said it’s such a reinvigorating experience.

    Someday, maybe.

  9. May 26, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Thanks to all for your encouragement. When I’m a famous artist you can all have a free print. 😈


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taking up a glowing cinder with the tongs and lighting with it the long cherry-wood pipe which was wont to replace his clay when he was in a disputatious rather than a meditative mood" ~ Dr. John H. Watson ************************
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