You know that part in Project Runway when someone decides to go all out with their design and get super creative and suddenly it’s one hour till deadline and all they have is half-sewn dress that looks like something Betsy Johnson would design on acid? That was me three hours ago.
I’ve always considered myself a creative person. I’m pretty good at coming up with unique concepts, putting the odd ornament or piece of jewelry together, and I can take a decent photo. But painting and drawing have never been areas where I excel. Last year, I had this great idea to paint this amazing scene from a dream I had that involved a giant red horse. So I bought this huge canvas and spent the next month drawing horses that looked like what my mom used to put on the refrigerator when I was 6 (thus Summer Bucket List item No. 15).
So I figured why not make my summer bucket list skill learning to paint! I found a 2.5 hour “CRASH” course through Hands on 3rd‘s Culver City location. And — equipped with purposely paint-splattered jeans, a friendship bracelet and a tie-dye shirt — I was ready to paint. The inspiration: Pablo Picasso’s seated woman portraits.We started off with a charcoal drawing, and I must admit, I was pretty excited about mine. It had just the right amount of Picasso-inspired elements mixed with my own ideas. What happened over the next few hours is hard to say. I know that as soon as the first bit of paint touched the canvas and I realized I couldn’t hit Ctrl-Z, I had a deep feeling of dread. And it kind of went downhill from there. In the last hour or so, though, I channeled my best Tim Gunn “make it work” moment and turned it into something … interesting. Let’s just say that the final product looked a lot better than it did at 8:15 or so.
I think I still have a long way to go in the learning to paint department, but it was a good lesson in creative humility. Here are some of the things I did learn:
- If you’re new to painting, keep it simple.
- Never look around at other students’ work while you’re painting — especially if you have the feeling yours is starting to look kind of crazy. (I made this mistake early on in the class and I don’t think I ever fully recovered, but kudos to all the other students who created some really beautiful paintings!)
- Just paint over what you don’t like (the caveat to this, of course, is that sometimes, it takes a lot of paint and a lot of time, which you may not always have.)
- Keep your inspiration and maybe some color pallets nearby. I’ve become so accustomed to clicking around on the Adobe Illustrator color wheel that I was at a loss for what to do about color when I had to make it up myself.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s all part of the learning process.
As for my future as a drawer/painter, we’ll see. I’m not giving up just yet. There still that red horse that needs painting …