Monthly Archives: March 2013

Painting until Spring Comes

By Esther C. Baird
First Published in the Tri-Town Transcript

Boxford Topsfield Middleton —
Perhaps by the time this column goes to print, this last round of snow will be a distant memory.  But as I type, it’s an all-consuming reality. We are like so many Laura Ingalls in our very own Long Winter. 
So it was with a panicked need for any distraction, that I accepted an invitation to a ladies night out with The Artist Bar, a business here on the North Shore which hosts a traveling ‘paint and sip’ party.  The owner, Jennifer Clement, is a professional artist who feels that many of us are simply out of touch with our artistic side. 
Of course, Regular Readers will recall in my last column I attended a Pinterest night . . . and ate cookies for my hobby.  Artistic I am not.  But perhaps you caught the tag line about sipping?  I may not be able to paint, but I can sit with friends and sip a glass of wine.   If you want to put a canvas in front of me and stick a paintbrush in my hand, well so be it.
The evening I attended was a “Monet’s Water Lilies” night.  I smiled politely as I entered the room but, just like winter would never end, I would never paint lilies.  Some things just weren’t meant to be.
Jennifer would have none of it. 
She faced our gaggle of cooped-up moms who had the attention span of kindergartners in a bouncy castle, and announced, “Ladies, you CAN do this.  There will be no negativity in this room.  You all have an inner artist and tonight . .  you  . . . will . . . paint!!”
I took a sip of wine and raised my glass.  Huzzah!  But, probably I would not.
“You have to let go of the thoughts that say you can’t do this.  If you can listen for five minutes,” she paused and stared down some women who were whispering and giggling, and by women I mean me, “you will learn exactly what to do.  There is no room for self doubt tonight!”
I smiled.  She was nice.  But I couldn’t paint. 
Then she let go with this, “If you say something that is negative or self-deprecating about your inner artist, I will paint a mustache on your face!”
Well.  That caught my attention.  It was acrylic paint after all and, for once, I’d actually done my hair and makeup.  Ok then, no negativity.  I took my brush firmly in hand, took a sip, and conjured my inner Monet. 
My inner Monet seemed to be on vacation, but something was in there and I began to flutter my brush around my canvas.
“You must cover the canvas, ladies.  Whatever you do will be right, so paint!”  Jennifer said in her North Shore, semi-tough, but laced-with-love voice.
I began to fling some green and blues down and smush it around.  Cover the canvas, cover the canvas.  I could totally do that. Paint! Jab! Swish! Brush!  I was painting!  I was a painter! 
Step one had been exhilarating and therefore exhausting, which Jennifer with her eye for detail, noted.  She promptly insisted that we take a break to let our canvases dry and to refresh our drinks . . . you know, if we needed to.
And like so many wrung-out, artistically spent, stay at home Monets we marched off to comply.  When we returned, obediently refreshed, we learned how to paint the lilies.
“Simply start with a small little ‘v’ and then a big circle.  Look a lily!” Jennifer demonstrated.
Following her steps, lilies began to float across my canvas in striking shades of yellow and pink and perhaps a dash of excitable orange.  They were bright and bold and full of zest, unlike the grey wash that the North Shore had become this winter.  
Jennifer was right, I could paint.  And if I can paint, it’s possible, just possible, that spring will truly come.