Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Be Not Afraid

To paint, or not to paint?  That is the question that has been dogging me for a month.  I’ve been thinking about taking an art class and today I must decide.

I’ve always wanted to try painting.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE quilting, but sometimes I’m impatient with how long it can take to see the end result of a project and while there are some amazing landscape and art quilters out there, so far I am incapable of capturing a scene or an idea in fabric.  My grandfather was a wonderful painter, as are two of my aunts, a cousin, and my sister-in-law (check out her work).  Their work inspires me and fills me with envy and I fantasize about what it must be like to be able to render a beautiful landscape or still life.  Secretly, I also wonder if some of their talent has rubbed off on me.

The only drawing my instructor liked.

 A couple of years ago I dipped my toe in the water and signed up for a drawing class thinking it was a logical first step towards painting.  At first I thought I was doing pretty well.  My instructor, however, repeatedly asked me "What is it going to take to get you to let go?"   This, of course, really helped me to free myself.  

Yes, it's an apple.
I tried another baby step – this time a pastel class.  I thought using color might be the key to unlocking my creativity (not to mention I got a deal on the class because I signed up with two women from the drawing class).  Turns out pastels weren’t my thing.  Apparently my paintings were a bit "overworked" and "muddy."  I decided to take some time off and focus on my quilting.

But lately I’ve been wondering if it might be time to give it another try.  A local gallery is offering a fall class on acrylic painting.  The course fits into my schedule, the instructor said that even though I'm a beginner, I will "have a blast!" and everyone I've asked thinks I should take the class (I tend to live my life by committee).  No brainer, right?  The truth is, I’m afraid.

What if I spend fabric money and quilting time on the painting class and I don’t like it? What if, despite my carefully cultivated background in drawing and pastels, I’m terrible and I embarrass myself in a room full of expert painters?  Worst of all, what if the bubble bursts and after all these years of hoping I might be able to paint, I learn that I can’t; like how I used to think I would always be able to pull off the short haircut I had when I was 16, only to cut my hair and discover to my horror that 20-some-odd years had left their mark on my face and a pixie haircut just didn’t work anymore.  Years of hair growing ensued.  I’m not sure I could take another blow like that.
Anyway, I’ve managed to put off the decision for several weeks, but over the weekend I had a conversation with my daughter that finally tipped the scales.  My daughter has been planning to join her school’s Drama Club, until she found out last week that she would have to sing as part of her audition.  She is 13, with all that entails, and even though she really wants the chance to do a fun activity with her friends, she doesn’t think singing is her thing and she may not try out.
I found myself alone in the car with my daughter on Saturday and while I had a captive audience (trapping your child in the car is so effective!), I gave her the following advice:  "You should try it, you might like it and you might be really good at it!" and  "Even if you aren’t amazing, it would probably be so much fun!" and "I’d hate to see you let your fear of looking foolish keep you from trying something new!" and, my personal favorite, "You won’t grow as a person if you don’t try something new." 
In the midst of parenting, it occurred to me that I had an opportunity to lead by example.  So I’m finally going to sign up for an actual painting class.  Hopefully I will be able to let go and have fun and be inspired with new ideas that I can carry over to quilting.  Maybe I'll discover that I do possess a hidden talent and I’ll turn out to be the next Picasso, or maybe I’ll discover that I should stick with painting house trim.  Either way, at least I’ll be facing my fears and in so doing, I hope I can inspire my children to do the same.

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