In a years-ago watercolor workshop - not the one I'm about to praise - we were assigned to paint hibiscus flowers. The instructor walked among us, nodding and murmuring, "Very nice . . . very nice . . . mmm-hmmm," until she reached mine, whereupon she burst out, "Oh, my!"
Her tone was about the same tone you'd use if you found a monarch butterfly crawling on your kitchen counter on a dark midwinter morning: not a bad thing, but not exactly something you wanted to deal with before your morning coffee.
A decade later, with my oil painting supplies still fresh from their Michael's bag, I tiptoed into Painting the Still Life in Oils, a workshop taught by American Impressionist Tricia Bass.
I was so eager to take this class. I'd researched the instructor, pored over her online portfolio, watched a ton of YouTube oil painting videos, breathlessly pestered the patient souls at the Foothills Art Center over whether the course would actually proceed, and generally gotten myself all lathered up.
I'd like to blame all of this on the odorless mineral spirit fumes, but in truth I am probably just obsessive.
Ms. Bass got right down to business, painting a gorgeous demonstration piece and articulately describing each step. Then she turned us loose on our own canvases and gave one-on-one instruction for hours. What a glorious Saturday! Pages of copious notes! Plashes of oozy color! Happy happy me!
And when Ms. Bass reviewed my still life composition in the early stages, she did not say "Oh MY." She said "Awesome."
Because a picture paints a thousand words, here are two thousand to consider: A painting I created the day before the workshop . . .
. . . versus the one I created during the workshop:
Breakthrough, anyone? It's official: I'm a self-declared American Impressionist groupie. Thank you, Tricia!