Let Me Paint You a Picture

Let Me Paint You a Picture

In college I had to take an art class so I chose watercolor. It was there I discovered I am great at painting bananas. For real. Still life – a banana. Landscape – a banana tree. Abstract – dancing bananas. However, it was also there that I discovered that if it is NOT a banana, I stink at painting.

So when I had the opportunity to take some painting classes for this article, half of me was intrigued. The other half of me cringed because THAT half remembered my limited talent.

More and more, studios are popping up all over the Lehigh Valley. My 8-year-old and I visited a local studio that had a Mother/Daughter Painting class. The theme: snowmen. That was a selfish move on my part. White circles. I could do white circles right?

My favorite part of that class was watching the little girls paint. They stand up, they sit down. They blow the hair out of their eyes, they sing. They giggle and they paint like there is no tomorrow. But the best thing about little girl painting – they make choices quickly and they commit.

While my daughter is putting earrings and eyelashes on her snowlady, I am over thinking it. Just how MUCH red should I use for Mrs. Snowman’s cheeks – should I go berries and cream or cotton candy? Can’t go too light you know.  Don’t want her to look anemic. How about a nice merlot or cranberry? Wait… can’t go too dark. Don’t want our Mrs. Snowman to look like Mrs. Trampy Snowman.

While my daughter is making all of her “stars” in the midnight sky heart shaped, I’m perplexed. Should I have a moon in the night sky or just stars? If a moon, what kind of moon? Should I make it a full moon, a waning gibbous, or a waxing crescent? And which hemisphere are we viewing this moon from… northern or southern? Decisions.

It was in that class, consumed by my inability to make a decision regarding a moon, I realized, I have to paint with the spirit of an 8-year-old. This is fun. “Type A Kelli” needs to make this fun. Look at my kid over there. She’s having a ball. So what if the thing sticking out of Frosty’s head resembles more of a sneaker than a carrot. She’s having fun, and she’s doing this right.

So with my newfound personal mantra, I visited my next studio.

It was Roey’s Paintbox on Hamilton Boulevard in Allentown.  I looked on her website prior to my visit to try to determine what I wanted to paint. There were a lot of options but I settled on LOVE taken from the famous Robert Indiana’s sculpture in Philadelphia. Letters. I could paint letters, couldn’t I? I should be able to paint letters, right?

Roey Ebert is the owner and has a very hip artsy vibe to her. Her studio showcases paintings from top to bottom on all four walls. It seats about 40 but still has an intimate feel to it. There are different sized blank canvases to choose from when you enter, and the proper brushes and paints are laid out for  you already.

When the class started, Roey got on her stage at the front of the studio and started her demonstration painting.

She walked us through, step-by-step, the placement of each letter. She also suggested color options, shading details, background options, brushes to use… you name it, she helped. But not in a DO IT THIS WAY kind of way. She merely suggested and finished each suggestion with, “or do whatever you might want to do.” There are no rules. Well, there is one rule in Roey’s studio. No one can use rulers. A tough pill for Type A’s like me to swallow but… “don’t over think it Kelli. It will be fine,” I told myself.

I took that “do whatever you might want to do” advice and rolled with it. When the others were shading their perfectly aligned LOVE with complimenting tones, I was painting my catawampus LOVE deep blood red. No shading. Just red.

When others were painting their backgrounds full of building silhouettes of beautiful downtown Philadelphia or the tall regal trees of the real Love Park, I chose black, Yep. Black. My interpretation: the park at night.

When others were putting their final finishing touches on their tree leaves or building windows, I was looking around the studio for glitter. Found it! And I threw it on my painting like an elementary school girl. I was channeling my inner 8-year-old. And it felt great!

So my advice to you: Go paint! Many studios are BYOB so gather some friends, grab some wine and go have fun. If you are a Type A, take your kid with you and learn from them. It is a fun night out.

In the end, Roey said my painting was very Rock and Roll. I’ll take that. But it’s no banana.

Roey Ebert donates all of her demonstration paintings to the Lehigh Valley Hospital Pediatric Unit. Her paintings hanging on the wall of the unit adding a bit of homey color and cheer. And when a child is released from the hospital, they get to take the painting of their choice home with them.PaintPicture1

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