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My first formal painting session!

Investing time and $ into this promise to myself, I enrolled and started watercolor painting classes today in Nashville at Centennial Park Arts Center. It is located in one of those buildings you’d miss if you weren’t specifically looking for it, off in a corner of the park. What a wonderful place, though, just perfect!

As you enter, there is a gallery, shaped like a short, very wide T, with lots of windows. The studio I paint in is to the right, down a little hallway. I can tell it’s a special place, just by the energy! I didn’t know a soul, as is often the case when I get into one of these “Lucy, what did you do?” scenarios where I get into something and wonder at my sanity as I take a deep breath and go through the doorway.

It so happened, though, that I found a warm, congenial atmosphere there. Several folks were already engrossed in work, but Hazel King, the instructor and a pistol-of-a-nonaganerian(I looked it up!)-woman greeted me warmly. I noticed that experience was sweetly etched in her face and she had plenty of sparkle and shine still in her eyes. Reminded me of my mom at her elfish, most-mischievous best.

I explained I was new to painting and meekly went to the files to find a reference image to paint and set myself up in a quiet little corner to get to work. I had my original British supplies and a nifty new painting box David had given me for my birthday. It had three drawers and was stocked with watercolor, oil, and acrylic paint supplies, one set to each drawer. And the top lifted up to produce an easel. I had ditched the oil and acrylic supplies, added the british painting supplies for more variety, and the watercolor paper I had bought in the U.K.

Hazel showed me how to line my workstation with old newspaper from a big pile nearby and I promptly got started. It was amusing and educational listening to the rest of the group talk as they worked. At times it would grow quiet, but more often than not, Hazel would pipe in and make an observation on someone’s work. “There’s not any value change in that at all!” she’d bemoan. And “look at that, don’t you see all those colors in that? It ain’t just red, you know!”

“She is hard of hearing and can get very critical at times, but don’t let her discourage you,” Lynne, a friendly 30-something, warned. She had come by to freshen her water and glanced over my work. “Very nice!”

I explained I had never really painted before and she quickly became mentor, friend, and art confidant, showing me how to place dabs of water on paper, fan it around, and create little surprise blotches of beautiful color.

Unfortunately, I’m chairing this major weekend conference in Washington, D.C. next week and with so many details to tie up before heading up there Tuesday, I had to leave class early.

Still, I managed to tap into something, and found an impromptu, easy-flowing style in the iceboat I painted. I was pleased and proudly brought home my work to show David who claimed to be pleased and impressed too.

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