I don’t know if I’m an Artist, but I do know I’m a person who loves doing art. I especially like it when the weather is inclement—as it is in deep winter and again, now, in the knife-sharp heat of July.
It is unlikely that I will ever host an art opening, sell a painting, or get an accolade of any kind. That’s ok. For me, drawing and watercoloring is not much about achievement, but about letting go: of productivity, of time-keeping, of money-making, perfectionism, of getting there, tidying up, or securing admiration. It’s about letting go of control in general. I paint to get “off-the-clock” of life.
Every now and then, though, I like to acquire a technique. I’ve worked on conveying textures: metal, wood, dirt. Lately, I’ve been wanting to know about painting glass. So last week, as the temperatures rose, I booked a watercoloring class with Rosie Taylor at The Miners Bazaar in Jacksonville
I’m a huge fan of Rosie and the Project Cafe she has created. Her “crooked lil’ house’ is a setting right out of my childhood fantasies: color everywhere, front porch rocking chairs, fun things to eat. It’s a ‘Villa Villa Kula’ -sort of atmosphere—minus, of course, Mr. Nillson, or a horse on the front porch—but full of whimsical art and the sense that anything could happen. She serves both wine and coffee—which pretty much seals the deal for me—but also galettes and grilled cheeses and shepherd’s pies and tuna sandwiches-- and something to drink called ‘giggle water.’ I have not been to every café on the west coast, nevertheless, I hearby designate The Miners Bazaar as the best cafe on the West Coast
On the afternoon of my lesson, it was nice and cool inside. I ordered a Rhubarb-Bay “shrub” cooler (a formulation by local creative, Liz Bretko from Über Herbal) and then we set ourselves up at a wide table. The artistic subject at hand: a photograph I’d took of a wine glass full of brightly-colored rosé.
It’s usually a color that inspires me to paint a thing. Somehow, only by mixing the hue on my palette and getting it on paper do I feel I have enjoyed the color to the fullest extent possible. For a good while, I was in love with Blue Majorelle. I first met the color in Morocco, where it freshens the walls and flower pots in the public garden of the now deceased fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. I swear: just looking at this cool, clean color actually seemed to cool the hot Marrakech air.
(I’ve since learned that the color, derived from Lapis stone, was named after the French artist who designed the garden, Jacques Majorelle. He went on to patent the color, which is patently ridiculous: How can someone own a color? Especially considering it originally appeared in Berber cloaks and Moroccan tiles. I guess even colors can be colonized).
I have loved other colors, as well: the shifting cinnamon sands of the Sahara Desert and, closer by, the California poppies in my own yard; they look plugged into an electrical socket. I have also loved the sweet orange of Italy’s happy hour “Aperol Spritz”, and have loved Golden Gate Bridge red so much that I bought one of the colored pencils they sell to tourists in the warming hut below it.
But, at this moment, my color de jour is a particular shade of orange-pink in a glass of rosè that I drank at a supper club a few weeks ago at the Applegate wine country venue, Vista 222. I don’t know if it was the way the dusky sunset sky bounced off of it, or my super-convivial mood, but the orange-pink glow entranced me. By turns it said ‘watermelon picnics,’ ‘ripe strawberries’ and ‘swimming pools’ and also said ‘flamingos,’ ‘Miami,’ and ‘summer vacation.’ I tried to paint it when I got home, but kept running into a problem: How to paint the wineglass itself. I tried using gray—isn’t glass a sort of gray?—but in the end, the image looked ashen and smudgy, which worked against that cool crisp glass of summer goodness that I wanted to depict.
Rosie helped me with that right away—showing me how to use purple and blues to retain the coolness of glass. She showed how to leave blank spots to add a sense of light and reflection. We painted and chatted and passed afternoon until the shop was long closed, and I’d finished off an entire block of cheese. I didn’t quite capture the pop of the color of that rosé—which was more of an issue of the type of paint I was using—but I did learn a thing or two about painting glass.
And, most importantly, I achieved my goal for that hot July day: To completely and thoroughly enjoy myself.
If you are curious about painting, but I recommend this book by local artist Mindy Carpenter (who does the art for our beloved Pennington Farms): Carpe Diem: An Illustrated Life
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