Thursday, October 28, 2010
Somewhere in the depths of my guest room closet, I think tucked between the 1980-90 tax returns, obsolete photography equipment, a favorite floor length dress my mother made me which I can't bring myself to recycle, and a discarded but still functional bedspread, lies a medium sized light canvas, faded white tote bag. I think Lee bought it for me in the early sixties, long before my two master's degrees and my doctorate. Why? Silk screened in dull brown on the outside: Chronic Student. It was directed towards me, with some humor, because all my life I have been addicted to taking classes. Everything from Birds of the Sacramento Valley to the Call of the Galapagos to Zoogeography of the World. Lee would smile and say "Bonnie is always happiest when she is taking some educational thing." True observation, indeed, and she never growled at my intellectual meanderings, even when they took me to Colorado or New Mexico or South America. Later in life I amused myself with Elderhostels.
So it is with ongoing pleasure that I now indulge myself in watercolor classes, which have taken me to France, Bali, and Belgium, as well as local environs with teacher and friend, Sandy Delehanty, and others.
Currently I amuse myself in a monthly critique class with a painting teacher I like and respect, Myrna Wacknov. This week we met at my house, which was a pleasure, and I displayed the painting above for Myrna's comments. It shows my down-eastern Maine friend, Mason, whom I first met many years ago in a painting class in Maine. Mason and his wife often visit, and I composed the painting from a snap I took of him while they were entertaining me at a snazzy SF restaurant, the Water Bar, this spring. One of Mason's common expressions is the title of the painting, and of this blog. It refers to his attitude! Often its hard to know if he is teasing, or serious, and I often confuse his intent. Myrna thought I did a good job of portraying his attitude, but had much to say of criticism of composition (the background on the left is distracting) and my portrayal (the ears are too small, do more with the eyebrows, avoid hard edges in the background). Its hard to not be perfect, but then perhaps that is what compels me to keep trying, and I hope I always will.
When my friend Anne Watkins died a few years ago I was blessed to receive her painting books and materials. She was a great fan and student of Charles Reid, whose work I distinctly dislike. Spotting a Charles Reid book on my shelf, part of Anne's collection, Myrna assigned me to learn his technique, and repaint Mason in a Charles Reid style, which is the extreme opposite of how I usually paint. Oh, my. This is going to be a hunk of growth-giving. More may be revealed in a later blog. On the other hand, I may just give up my addiction to learning.