I’ve already mentioned that I took up a painting class at the start of this year. Partly it was to help me relearn technique, but also to socialise, expose myself to water colours again, and absorb the atmosphere. And, of course, to socialise, and re-engage with painting.
In truth, I was very nervous on my first day. I had very little idea what to expect, I’d got some very cheap and basic paints and equipment and I had no idea how the class would be structured.
I was quite surprised to find myself probably the youngest person there. I’m in my mid-50s. But, I found almost all the people there were very friendly, kind, helpful and glad to see a new person. It was very well attended too, which was a tiny bit surprising, but pleasingly so.
We were given the task of painting a picture of a small cottage not unlike those you might find in France or Italy, white walls, terracotta tiles on the roof, and that was absolutely nerve wracking. Where should I start? These people can all see what I’m doing, what will they think? Etc etc.
I just started painting. It was about the only thing I could do and I remember realizing I was breaking all the rules, dropping the darkest paints on the paper first and getting something there.
I remember thinking to myself “this is a pile of shit – I hate it, and so will everyone else.” It took me what seemed like an age to get something acceptable, and I almost tore it up several times. I was genuinely becoming quite anxious at this state and then suddenly it started coming together and, hey presto. I’d got a painting that looked close to what I wanted to achieve and, more importantly, people were not laughing at. Of course, I’m aware nobody would intentionally laugh, but it was a feeling I’d got.
In the end, I found myself quite pleased with the results. The painting is darker than I perhaps intended but the gloom adds atmosphere which I found enhances it, but it also reminded me strongly of a small chateau I came close to buying in La Vendee in France about 25 years ago. I also learned some extra techniques and new skills and had a thoroughly good time. I was made to feel welcome and encouraged to return and although I’ve missed classes intermittently since, I have really enjoyed going and it’s given me new insights every week.
My message is simple: Even if you’re nervous, if you don’t think you have the talent, don’t fret. It’s not about being fantastic, it’s about learning new skills, techniquest, ideas and enjoying a very rewarding hobby and even a small improvement is an improvement. Give it a go!
So here’s the result and I think it’s actually turned out ok. If I did it again now, I’m sure it would be better, but it would probably look markedly different so I’m happy with it as it is. For now.