No. Not math classes. Are you insane?
These are fun classes.
On Friday, I walked into SLO Monart five minutes late because I'm always five minutes late - especially when Elizabeth clings to my legs and sobs that she wants to go to painting class too.
While I stood, uncertain as to what to do, I was offered and accepted a glass of wine. The ladies directed me to a chair set in front of a blank canvas, an empty palate waiting.
I've never taken a painting class, never painted on an easel. Rachel is the artist in the family and, to be honest, my mind is too symmetrical to be able to achieve the fluidity art typically requires.
Nervous, I started squeezing paint into my palate. Looking at my neighbor from the corner of my eye, I mimicked the order of her colors just in case there was some sort of rule.
The instructor stood in front of the class, a blank canvas at her side. She picked up a pencil and told us to draw a horizon and a shoreline. I stared at my canvas and bit my lip.
Hesitantly, I asked, "Is that horizon line about four inches from the top of the canvas?"
She looked at me blankly for a moment and replied, "About. Remember, this is your interpretation of Van Gogh's painting."
Eyeing the paper carefully, I drew a straight line across the page followed by a squiggle that mimicked the one on the instructor's canvas.
"Now cover it in bright blue." This was comfortable. I took a sip of wine and let the music soothe me while I spread blue paint above my line.
I continued, adding clouds, sand, and water, always following the instructor's directions.
Soon, the paint felt more natural, the brush more at ease. I chatted easily with my table mate and looked proudly at my canvas of sand, water, and sky.
And then I was told to add mustard to my sea.
I sat, my brush poised.
"Are you sure?" I asked. The instructor nodded her head while haphazardly splotching yellow paint across her ocean. Her canvas took on life and depth. She added a bit of white and suddenly there were waves and movement.
I dipped my brush in mustard and waited, the tip of the brush inches from the canvas.
"Really?" I muttered. "Mustard?"
My table mate laughed. "Worst case, you just paint over it."
Taking a steadying sip of wine, I added mustard. And then green, and white, and dark blue. My ocean started to move across the canvas.
We moved on to the boats, learning to blend the paint, to deviate from the original, to add our own touches. The longer I sat, the more relaxed I became.
Mine wasn't the best in the class. It is no where near Van Gogh's work, obviously. But, still, when I finished drying my painting, I couldn't stop the wide grin on my lips or the feeling of exhilaration that made me want to tell everyone how amazing painting is.
Because I learned I'm a woman who paints.