Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Art schools out for the summer

"When I first saw your gallery I liked the ones of ladies."

Today was my second to last summer art class and I never have been more relieved that a class I am taking for fun is almost over.

I came home today and painted three paintings, one was the homework from the class I missed last week, and two were today's homework. They aren't great but the great thing is that I am calling them done. So unless I get some unanticipated artistic energy tomorrow and re-do a couple of assignments to improve my grades, I am done done done with acrylics!

To be honest, if I'd read the fine print, I might not have taken this class, but I was so starstruck by the name of the class, "Color," that I must have glossed right over the description:
Projects in this class are designed to address the relativity and interaction of color in the visual arts. Emphasis is on learning by direct perception of color phenomena, with studies on juxtaposition, harmony, and quantity, executed in paint and colored papers. Studies in hue, value, and intensity are followed by studies in color composition and harmony. This course will help both beginning and advanced students take color to the next step.
Color was listed separately from the painting classes, and somehow I missed those three little telling words, "executed in paint." In my mind, I was taking a color theory class, where we would study the works of the masters and I could wear nice clothes because it wasn't a lab class. I was excited about how I might be able to apply what I learned to my glass frit blending endeavors. Instead, I got to wear one of Neil's old shirts as a smock and have paint embedded in my fingernails for seven straight weeks.

That alone might not have daunted me. Dabbling in paint wearing a smock has its own sex appeal and once in the game I was willing to give it my best. Two things derailed me.

The first was that I underestimated the impact of becoming a grandmother while taking a Tuesday Thursday class. In the year since I became a student again, I had not missed a single class. My grandson considerately made his appearance on a Sunday and came home from the hospital on Tuesday. So I left for Keller directly from my class on that Tuesday and stayed until Sunday. One class missed, one assignment to make up. Totally manageable, at least until my daughter had a meltdown a week later.

My daughter who has never been depressed for one day of her life, and who I thought had dodged that hereditary bullet, had full-blown postpartum depression. She didn't think she was doing anything right, didn't feel like she was bonding with the baby, basically just "didn't want to do it anymore." I know it is an illness and no one is immune, but it was especially shocking since she has wanted to have a baby forever. And now she was telling me that she didn't want to hold him, didn't know if she loved him.

So on his one-month birthday, I once again left directly after my Tuesday class to spend a few more days with my grandson and his mama. Maybe because first, she knew I was coming, and then, because I was there, she started feeling better. The baby was up from his 6 lb. 3 oz. birth weight to a whopping 8 lbs. 6 oz. so there was undeniable proof that she was doing everything right. And she is so good with him, she really seems to have the mom thing down, at least to outward appearances.

I stayed until Friday, and then she had her husband home for the weekend. Things are still a bit dodgy, the baby hasn't settled into any sort of sleep schedule yet, but she has meds to take now if she feels she really needs them. I hope she hangs on a bit longer and turns a corner, because while I am the poster girl for better living through medicine, I don't like the idea of medicating what might be a transitory problem. It's a slippery slope and I'm hoping she can stay off it because not all meds work for all people and some can make you feel a whole lot worse, based on my personal and problematic experience.

The second thing that derailed me in my painterly aspirations is my teacher. I like her, but she takes the class way too seriously. I mean, the beauty of art is that it is in the eye of the beholder. So if I painstakingly complete an assignment and if the shade of blue I mixed isn't a ringer for the shade I am trying to mimic, do I really deserve a failing grade? Really, a 58? On a project that took me hours. And while I know I missed more than I hit on that particular exercise, I think a C would have sent the same message, and a B would have been justified for effort.

So I have slogged through the assignments, with grades from As and Bs to a C and that 58. I planned and meant to redo the latter two assignments to raise my grade, but somehow I just haven't felt like pulling out the paints when I get home. Today I absolutely made myself do it, I pushed my way through the last three assignments. I'm happy with one and satisfied with two but most of all I am finished. Done. Complete.

I know I will pass the course and even without re-doing those two evil assignments, I might even pull a B, but right now I just don't need the pressure. Although part of me wants to eradicate that C and that 58 as a matter of pride. It would be another few hours of paint and it would have to be done tomorrow to turn in on Thursday.

But you know, tomorrow, I feel like making some beads. I have new frit blends to test. Pictures soon.

"When I first saw your gallery, I liked the ones of ladies
But now their faces follow me, and all their eyes look shady"
Joni Mitchell (again)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz