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Culture Watch

Discovering My Inner Artist

Who knew I was a painter?

I certainly didn’t. Although I’ve been writing and acting for most of my life, the visual arts were always something I admired but assumed were beyond my creative abilities. Whenever I’d tried to draw something, it never looked to me like what I was seeing. Coloring books were about all I could handle.

Nevertheless, I decided to sign up for an Alla Prima, Alla Fun class taught by Patty Kane at the Art League of Bonita Springs anyway. The write-up promised that Kane would guide participants through the process of creating a painting, step-by-step in one three-hour session. The additional facts that this class was specifically for non-artists, that there would be pizza and wine served, and that the painting would be in the style of Georgia O’Keefe (one of my personal favorites) made me think, “Why not?”

I am so glad I did! The session was everything it promised and then some. It began with some introductory remarks and then the aforementioned refreshments. Kane joked with the 16 or so would-be artists that the wine would help “lubricate” our efforts. But it was really Kane who took the edge off the intimidation factor.

She showed us examples of paintings made from the techniques she was about to teach us and then had us draw a series of lines on canvas with a pencil. She also demonstrated what each of the different-sized brushes we’d been given could help us accomplish. Then she set us free to load paints onto our makeshift plastic plate palettes.

 The chatter in the room subsided, as we focused on our canvases and brushed on the colors of our choice. Kane and ALBS education director Jake Hand wandered the room, stopping to answer questions and to offer encouragement and advice. You could almost hear
a hum of creativity buzzing through the room.

As I painted, I got lost in the process. The other participants disappeared, and all that seemed to exist or matter was the painting taking shape before me. I followed the directions as best I could, didn’t quite like the result, added some streaks of light here and there, and suddenly—voilà! I had a painting I could be proud of!

I’m not ready for a solo show yet. I haven’t even painted again since then. But I know I will. It was such a wonderful experience.

Art League of Bonita Springs offers Alla Prima, Alla Fun the first Thursday of the month. It’s been so popular that extra sessions are often added. (239) 495-8989, www.artcenterbonita.org.

The Rightside Artists at the Esplanade on Marco hold similar Palette Parties monthly and will arrange special sessions for groups. (239) 784-4436.

Rosen Gallery & Studios in Naples offers A Taste of Raku monthly for those who prefer creating a raku vase. Group sessions can also be arranged. (239) 821-1061, rictra@earthlink.net.

Try one of these workshops and an artist may be born. At the very least, you’ll have great fun!

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