Thursday, February 18, 2016

Shall I be an artist?

If you've been reading my blog lately, you know that I've really been enjoying my neighbour and friend Shannon Purcell's Paint Nites that she has been hosting in her home studio since last fall.  So much so, that I took some private lessons with her during the month of January and completed a larger project that I am so happy to have hanging in my dining room now.  Paint Nites and painting lessons have brought me great joy, as has practicing my photography, and I have really been embracing my creative side of late.

I have always had a bit of an artistic side.  I loved arts & crafts as a kid, and I always enjoyed art classes in high school and college, but it is a part of me that has been left largely untapped since then.  I always focused more on my writing, and, in my 20's, playing guitar.  Those were my creative "outlets".   Even though I always enjoyed art, I never thought I was very talented, but if I'd worked at it and honed my skill, taught myself some patience and made myself practice, I think it's something I could be good at.  The same as I'd like to learn to decorate cakes, or learn to knit and crochet, or take up quilting.

But, you know.  Life is busy.  There's always so much to do, so many things on the go.  You kind of have to pick and choose your hobbies.  When you work and get involved in community events and such, there's only so much time.  Maybe you even get in a rut and forget that there's other things you COULD be doing.

I think that's what happened to me.

I often thought I'd like to take some painting classes, but it never happened.  I even spoke to Shannon several years ago about how I'd like her to teach me, and she enthusiastically agreed, but it never happened.  I would see works by her and other local artists and have this niggling thought:  "I think I could do that.  I think I could be good at that."  But honestly, I didn't know where to begin.  And like I said, there was always so much going on that I didn't make the time to take her up on her offer to teach me.

Paint Nites have become a popular phenomenon around here, and I kept hearing of people going to them in the city.  It was something I wanted to try, very much so.  So when Shannon announced she was going to give hosting Paint Nites a whirl, I jumped at the opportunity.  I mean, she's RIGHT across the road from me, and it sounded like such a fun, different, and affordable night out.  I couldn't NOT go.  Absolutely no excuse.

That very first Paint Nite back in October, we painted pumpkins, and it was truly a fabulous evening.  I found painting so relaxing and stress-relieving, even though I was a little nervous with it being my first time painting in years.  I also loved the social aspect, enjoying the company of a group of lovely ladies as we chatted and had drinks and snacks, and laughed and cursed our paintings and commiserated over how awful we were.  But Shannon guided us along the way, and taught us so much in such a short time.  She taught us how to fix mistakes, encouraged us to do different things and go outside the box, and shared so much knowledge and love for art with us. Lo and behold, we all left with a piece of art that we were proud to take home and actually hang on the wall.  I loved it, and couldn't wait for the next one.

Since then, I have done several Paint Nites, and been grateful to take home paintings of poppies, Christmas balls, a snowman, and the black-and-white winter fence scene, as well as my bigger 3-part version of the birch trees.  I think the only ones I've missed were the Christmas Angel (which I have plans to do in March), the stack of books, and the painting on glass class that she held.

Some of them have been a struggle - the poppies almost killed me, and are still my least favourite of all my paintings - but overall, each class has been so enjoyable and really has me thinking about taking this hobby up in my own time and home.  Shannon has been encouraging me to buy my own supplies, and last week a friend who is moving and trying to get rid of some of her stuff dropped off an artists easel for me, which I am anxious to put into action.

I'm still not convinced that I can really be great at this.  I'm not sure that I could do it without Shannon's help and guidance.  I'm also not convinced I have the wherewithal to come up with my own idea, and take it from beginning to end.  Becoming an artist will take a financial investment (brushes and paints and other materials don't come cheap), and I'm so worried my paintings will end up like all of my so-called "best selling novels" - half-finished, and abandoned in frustration.

I do that, you know.  I get an idea in my head that I'm going to do something, and then it never happens.  Not just with writing novels.  I bought a jewelry making kit that has been collecting dust in my upstairs junk room for years.  Same with all my scrapbooking supplies.  I think this is why my mom was so hesitant to invest in a nice quality camera for me - she was afraid I'd never use it, or take  the time to learn to use it properly.

The camera is what gives me hope for the painting.  I have loved my camera, and have so enjoyed taking pictures with it and playing around with the features on it.  Some days, when I'm struggling to find something to photograph for my Project 365 Photo Challenge, I hate it, but I know I'll be happy I did it in the end.  I've already amazed myself with some of the shots I've got, and I've so enjoyed doing sessions for a few of my favourite families and friends.

Maybe it will be the same with that artists easel.  I think it's time to go out on that limb and buy my own brushes and paints and a few canvases.  I said this year was going to be about me; about doing what I want to do, and making time for the things I enjoy and love doing.

Maybe this is the year that I will finally become an artist.


Stacy said...

I think you would make a great artist and you have the room for it -w whether it be set up in your huge living room with the sun shining in while you are watching Jimmy...or hideaway up in the bigger spare bedroom and have your own little peaceful space...go for it!

Nancy said...

I would say you already have become an artist. Honestly, I'd buy your Christmas bulbs painting. Or maybe I will commission one from you sometime.

Debbie Johnston said...

You will do great Jill, I have seen some of your paintings with Shannon and they are beautiful, I would never be able to do it. Your pics are so nice also Maybe you could do both, you are so lucky to have talent.

Mrs. Match said...

I love seeing these beautiful paintings! I have always wanted to go to a painting night. Looks like a great time!

Nicole said...

We've talked about doing those here, a few friends of mine. We haven't yet. Every time I see yours I want to do it worse. My great grandpa actually came to this country from Greece as an artist. Only artistic abilities I got if you want to even call it that is through the lens of a camera. And some days I question that.

Jillian said...

Go for it! As someone who has an insane amount of hobbies (most of them crafty) I fully believe that art no matter what it is is very good for the soul. I crochet, knit, make jewelry, loom knit, draw, color and craft (I'm actually thinking about starting a craft/lifestyle blog because I miss blogging so much but want to do it differently this time because the majority of the time I had my old blogs I was very mentally ill) kudos to you for painting! I suck at painting unless its abstract.