When I was a freshman in high school, I went to a private school. A lot went to hell after that year and I ended up transferring to a public school as a junior, but before then, it was a pretty ideal place for me to be. The classes were small, the teachers had time to get to know you, it was a community more than a school. You grew up with your classmates. I had been with my group since I was in the 5th grade. Some of my classmates had known each other for even longer. To this day, I have pangs of regret over leaving, even though there was no other way.
I never considered myself an artist, my childhood drawings were all pretty much of the Stick Figure Girl Walking a Dog or Riding a Horse variety. Art class was hanging out with my girlfriends and chattering while we made something with our hands — it was peaceful. I realize that later it would morph into hanging out with my girlfriends and cooking. But I really enjoyed art. A nice respite from class, but not necessarily where my talents lay.
So one day, the incredible woman who ran the art program gave us a project. She assigned each of us a square from Picasso’s Guernica to paint. When we were all finished, she put the pieces together into this very cool patchwork painting. I know a photo of it exists somewhere, but I couldn’t find it. I painted the foot in the bottom right hand corner. It was my first time using oil paint and I fell in love. It also freed me up from thinking that I didn’t have to be the best or even very good to enjoy something — a novel idea for a 15-year-old.
A visiting artist then came to the school and he assigned us a project where we would do a pencil drawing of an image and then later an oil painting of the same image. I was in my second year or so of obsessing over Gone with the Wind (over a decade now, baby!) so obviously I chose the movie poster.
Then I built a frame, stretched and jessoed my own canvas, and painted it.
I’ve been circling my love affair with oil painting ever since. I’ve never taken any official classes or anything, it’s been something that I just like to dabble in every once and awhile. Something peaceful to do with my hands.