Six of us from work made plans two months ago to get together this week for Paint Nite; it was Elaine’s birthday and we thought it would be fun to celebrate there. I’ve been following it on Facebook and was familiar with the concept; go on their website, scroll through pages of painted images, agree on one based on availability (limited seating and they sell out) and location, reserve a spot with a click of the mouse. We all agreed on a class that would be painting a flower in a restaurant/bar in Middletown.
Wednesday night after grabbing a quick bite at a nearby, more casual restaurant we arrived at our destination, ready to paint. We were shown to the back of the restaurant and up a flight of stairs to a private area set up with long tables covered in plastic cloths. In front of every chair sat blank canvasses propped up on easels, three different size paint brushes and paper plates dotted with red, yellow, white, blue, black paint.
I am not artistic, this I know. I cannot draw a straight line, round circle, forget about making an oval symmetrical.
The instructor was a young, adorable and energetic art school graduate who effortlessly painted circles and ovals, shaded here, filled in there. She was patient and complimentary, told us to follow her lead or paint anything we wanted.
After painting the canvas black we shaded a circle at the center with blue and white paint. From there we started on the petals of the flower, mixing blue and white to create shades of purple. My petals were fat and bulbous, not like the narrow, tubular petals our instructor painted. I started judging myself, telling myself my painting was terrible, comparing mine to others around me. I kept painting, adding blue where it was suggested, then red. I outlined each petal in white, was a little more heavy-handed than the light brushstrokes we were supposed to lay down. Green grass and feathery, white flowers went down next followed by a smattering of stars. As I painted I relaxed and got into a rhythm. I felt my grip loosen on the brushes, let my self-criticism go.
I heard snippets of “mine’s pretty good,” and “remember, this is my first time,” and “I never thought I could do this,” all statements I could have made. We continued painting and, to my surprise, I realized I was having fun. Except for the occasional lunch I don’t socialize with my co-workers outside of work, this was a first. Some of my insecurity came from knowing these women would see me do something I’m not confident in. It’s like letting them see me in my swim suit, I’d feel vulnerable. All of those feelings fell away as the night progressed.
We each painted our version of what we saw and what our abilities allowed. We took photos and sent them to other co-workers. I’m not sure if I’ll put my painting in the attic, basement or straight in the garbage; I wasn’t expecting to create anything I’d want to keep which is fine. And when we got to work yesterday we started looking online for another Paint Nite to attend. Next time I won’t even sweat it a little bit. Just another small victory to remember when I’m doubting myself.