Long ago, before my life in Latin America, the Greenville (Mississippi) Arts Counsel sponsored watercolor workshops in the abandoned EE Bass School building each summer. Although there were classes for children as well as adults, my favorite students were the older ones.
Several new students professed, “I’ve never drawn or painted in my life, but I’d like to try!”
One of my favorite students that summer was a retired doctor. A childhood friend of my mother’s, he hobbled up those stairs and down that empty hall to the classroom each week. With one set of eyeglasses dangling from his neck, another balanced on the bridge of his nose, and a monocle eyepiece perched on his head, he embraced his lessons with passion and enthusiasm each week.
Other students confessed, “I painted long ago, but I got busy with work and raising a family. Now that my children are grown, I’d like to start painting again.” I watched one particular student swan dive back into her paintings, and it was a joy to witness her renaissance.
“I feel guilty taking your money,” I told her one week. “You don’t need my guidance…”
“Oh, but I do!” she exclaimed, “I need this class for the discipline; otherwise I would not take time to paint.”
Those students taught me many valuable lessons, and wherever I go, I try to coax others into their own unique renaissance.
It takes courage to step into a class of strangers and attempt to create art in a group setting. It takes courage to attempt that with a private teacher! Our insecurities emerge, and we fear that our work won’t measure up to our neighbor’s or that we work too slow or too fast, and we psyche ourselves out of taking that first step. Continue reading