by Neva Bodin
When I was a new mother, I bought a basic set of oil paints and a canvas and copied the picture of dolphins from the front of a Readers Digest magazine. A friend, who was taking a correspondence course in painting, told me my sky was wrong, (too roily, should be smooth) and my dolphins had the strokes going the wrong way, (I had them going around instead of the length of the dolphin). Discouraged I put my paints away and didn’t touch them for a couple years.
Then I learned about an artist who held a free painting session each week in her home for Newcomers in town or anyone interested. I showed her my painting. Oh, she said. Skies that are smooth are the mark of an amateur. And the round strokes show the roundness of the dolphins. Encouraged I became an artist.
As an oil painting artist, I have enjoyed hours of relaxing, exciting, enjoyable creativity that has made my soul sing. As well as brought in some income to support my “Hobbit.” (Habit plus hobby).
I am still upset with my then friend whom I let stifle my newfound interest for two years. I had drawn in charcoal since grade school, often spending hours with a like-minded friend in high school drawing together, taken a semester of art in college, and always wanted to paint pictures. And, I still forget the lesson that others may not know what they are talking about when it comes to me personally. And that I should make my own decisions.
Counsel and advice from others should definitely be considered and weighed for worthiness. Credibility also considered. But, sometimes we must gather courage and press ahead anyway.
This is true of writing or painting. I am so thankful to the instructor and now life-long friend who at 101 is unable to paint due to macular degeneration, but who can still give advice and encouragement. She gave me an immeasurable gift in her encouragement and then critique of my artistic attempts over 40 years ago. For even though I have had to drop the art for a year or so at times due to 50+ hour jobs, or family commitments, I have always been able to get back to it and experience the pleasure.
And I have the beautiful memory of having helped a lady in her 80’s, resident of a nursing home where a friend and I decided to meet and paint weekly so the residents could watch us (and eat our cookies too we found out).
Her name was Laverne, a wonderful lady who mentioned that she had always wanted to be an artist. She came each morning to watch when a nursing aide pushed her wheelchair to the dining room where we were set up. My friend, Kathy, and I pooled our resources and set Laverne up with a canvas, palette, brushes and paints. And lots of guidance and encouragement.
Sometimes Laverne was late, waiting for an aide to bring her. Finally one morning, tired of waiting, this lady, now determined to be an artist, arrived pushing her own wheelchair, with her paint supplies getting the ride in the seat! For ever after, she walked on her own, pushing her wheelchair to our painting session.
She had a new brightness to her visage. She mentioned how she now noticed landscapes, foliage, and scenery in a more detailed way when her son took her for a car ride. She would visualize and plan how she might paint it!
I moved perhaps a year into our endeavor, and I received a card at my new abode, signed by Laverne, featuring a beautiful country scene of a red, round barn that she had painted and used to print greeting cards. How wonderful to know Kathy and I played a part in encouraging someone, who had considered herself too old to pursue a dream and reach a goal! And sharing the joy for this art is so gratifying.