You'll hear no such comments in Brenda's class. Though she doesn't hesitate to offer advice, it's all done in a positive way, aimed at helping class members explore new methods and improve their skills.
On the Thursday I visited, Brenda showed 11-year-old MaKenzie (daughter of Heidi and sister of Caden) how to use a variety of watercolor techniques, including resist and sgraffito. The class usually works in watercolors, but Brenda introduces other media when the occasion calls for it.
"One day the clouds were beautiful, so we did a cloud study in pastels," she said.
As Eileen labored over her lily painting, Maureen reminded her, "Every once in a while, look at it from far away to get a better sense of the values." Maureen, who also sells art supplies, uses the class to try out new materials like the embossed rice paper she was working with. When she had finished painting on it, she added torn paper "halos," symbolizing "all the angels in my life." Then she started a new piece, painting around bright smears she had made by smashing petunia flowers and leaves.
Though Brenda doesn't play favorites, she couldn't help bragging on the work of one class member, Deb, whose flower painting was particularly vivid and free-flowing. Deb had painted years ago, before a stroke disabled her right arm—and her painting hand. Recently, she taught herself to draw and paint left-handed in a completely different style.
What new territory have you explored recently? What would you like to try?
Written from the heart,
from the heart of the woods
Read the introduction to HeartWood here.
Nan Sanders Pokerwinski, a former journalist, writes memoir and personal essays, makes collages and likes to play outside. She lives in West Michigan with her husband, Ray.