My ladies art class has been a little off lately. With lots of sickness going around, we all take turns being gone from class. Last week I had two people for Ladies Art and the week before that was about the same. Yesterday was a better. I started off with four ladies. Robin Egg was back and she brings joy and light with her - I love you RE! Also, one of my old art students is back in town and coming to art. Ashley was one of my all-time favorite young girls to teach. She is a ray of sunshine always, in fact she is often called Sunshine. She loves oil paints and is one of those people who just dives into her work and enjoys herself. Who could not love that!? I have another young lady who used to be in my young girls class and is back wanting to draw more. In the young girls class she painted much like Grandma Moses - very folk-like art - very cautious painter. That was okay, but now she is learning to draw better, which should help her art work overall. And Grandma Moses has been bringing her grandmother, a woman about ten years older than me (not so very old) who has also recently moved to the Duncan area. I'll call her Great Grandma Moses.
GGM has been coming to Ladies Art about three or four times now. She painted a nice oil still life when she first came - saying that is what she was used to doing. She has painted before and apparently liked art. Last time she was here I encouraged her to bring pictures of what she likes to paint. Much like her grand-daughter, GGM is a beautiful woman, a bit reserved, and very cautious in her art. I think the reason her grand-daughter and Robin Egg have encouraged her to come to classes is to help her make friends in this new place and have fun and of course, paint.
As I prepared for class yesterday, I set out some art books for GGM to browse and I printed off two pictures for painting references. Because the Ladies have such different styles and different wants, I don't always "teach". Sometimes the Ladies are all working on something of their own. Sometimes I have things to encourage them; sometimes not. Sometimes my encouragement references fall flat. But we are all big girls. If you don't like what I have to paint, by golly, find something you do like. I cannot force anyone to do something they don't want to do. Well, sometimes I can (evil grin).
I don't give such freedom to my younger girls artclass. They will paint or draw what I tell them to do. I do give them room to make it their own or sometimes give them a variety to choose from, but we all do the same lesson.
So yesterday, GGM looked at what I had for art, and pretty much said that she didn't know how to draw, she didn't know much about art, and that the only reason she came was because her grand-daughter wanted (forced her?) to come. She also said that she wanted her art to look just right (perfectionist?) and if she could not do that, she...didn't like it/didn't want to do it (?). You know me, I have a hard time not letting my thoughts show on my face. But I worked really hard to try and understand what she was saying. And you know that I am not much of a hand-holder/babier. (Toby says that I am the least sympathetic person in the world). But I did not ask, "Why are you here?" Instead, I tried to encourage her to make art her own - for the enjoyment of it. And if it was not perfect, she could throw it away or whatever she wanted to do. Or maybe she could like it.
Even after giving my encouraging speech, GGM looked at me and repeated that she didn't know how to draw/paint/etc - as if she truly did not want to be at art. At this point, I saw Ashley turn and hide into her art. She probably thought I was going to let GGM have it - possibly violence. If GGM had been one of my young girls, I would have said, "Get over it! Get after it!" But this woman is older than me. Although, she is a friend, she is not someone I know well or who knows me well. So, tried to simplify and meet her needs. I had her paint from one of the reference pictures. And she did fine.
In GGM defense, she wants lessons, which I do. But sometimes everyone does their own thing and I just help and direct - kind of teach on the go. Even people who don't have much art background and have been thrown into the Ladies class had to sink or swim. Most people are willing to try. I have had lots of young girls who balked at art, wanted me to guide their hands, and general whined thru class. Most of the whiners were at art because of the social aspect or because their mothers made them come. But with a grown woman, I was at a loss.
As I have written this out, I have just realized that GGM was not at art of her own accord. She was here for the social aspect and because her grand-daughter insisted. Hmm,
I have to say that Robin Egg was a great encouragement to me and to GGM yesterday. RE knocked out two very nice watercolors. One watercolor was a "stretch"for her and she did it anyway. Then Gayla showed up and knocked out a watercolor. Robin teased Gayla on her painting and made us all laugh. That is the way I like class. Ladies loving each other and feeling comfortable enough to tease and laugh. Robin is able to take what I dish out and give it back full measure. And Gayla, one of the most reserved ladies I know, did the same. So much more peaceful and fun.
But know this, I will not give up on GGM. I will continue to poke, prod, and possibly drag her into loving art with the ladies. It is just who I am. Years ago, I told my family that I thought it would be fun to be an event director on a cruise ship. My snarky son replied, "More like a cruise sergeant! You WILL play this game! And you WILL like it!..."