In a previous phase of my life, I was a competitive runner. With running, or at least competitive running, it helps to have a good coach. A good coach takes a no-talent, and by the end of the season, with drills, time, and encouragement has produced a real athlete. I thrived with good coaching. Even after I had my fourth daughter, with a good coach, I was able to run my best college times. (not anymore)
My favorite art coach is Miss Joan. Miss Joan was our family art teacher when we homeschooled our two youngest daughters 5 years back. She invited anyone in the family to join this class geared toward supplementing our education efforts. She was always cheerful and quick to praise. We worked on everything from paper mache to wire art to that mosaic I told you about before.
But seasons of life evolved, and family art lessons went by the wayside. So when Joan called me and told me about this oil painting class she was taking, I said,
"You take the class, and then come here and teach us what you learned."
This of course was in keeping with how we operated---her teaching the family, and us reveling in her praise. She insisted that I join her.
"I don't have any paints, or paint brushes...no, you take the class and then come teach us."
She said that she would loan me everything I needed if I would just come take this one class. How could I resist?
We made arrangements to meet at the class. She said that would let me borrow all her supplies and she promised to stand beside me. But she was late. The teacher, Bruce Williamson, motioned for me to come inside....Which I did. He said to get my palette ready as class was about to begin. But I didn't have anything. He was in the process of loaning me his supplies Joan arrived. Alleluia!
What they do in class is set up a still life, all the artists gather in a semi-circle, the teacher does a little demonstration, and then says, "Paint."
Are you kidding me? What?! Art speak is a different language. I had no idea what he was saying. All I heard was, blah blah blahblahblah....(or in Arrested Development, Bob Lob Law) I kept saying, "I have no idea what you're talking about."
That's not all. At the end of the class guess what happens? Everyone lines up their paintings in the front of the class and the art teacher critiques them!
Talk about nervous. I tried to beg off saying it was just my first painting, and I didn't want to put it up front. I didn't want to know what he thought....especially if it was negative. I didn't want anyone else to see it.
But up front it went. Along with the others in class... When you are at the starting line in a race, you sort of look around and size up the competition. And then you stop, turn inward, and just focus on your own race. Everything else sort of blurs as you concentrate on running your best race. That's what happened to me that day. First, I looked at all the other paintings in the class, and sized them up, if you will. Then all that blurred as I looked at what I had painted and tried to focus of what I needed to hear about this "race." Bruce was amazed that I had never painted before. He was not overly effusive in praise, but he definately had no criticism. The other artists in the class were murmuring approval. Joan was grinning, standing in encouragement beside me all the way.
I was near tears when I got home from all the nervous excitement. My adrenaline must have been pumping overtime. Reese saw the painting and about flipped. We went out the next day and he bought all the supplies for me to take the next week's class, the next starting line in a new race. And who did we "run" into at the art store? Miss Joan, my favorite art coach.