July 7, 2010

My happy tra-la-la year of taking painting classes is officially over. Just got “The Talk” from my new collage teacher — the one about how I have such potential but if I don’t take myself seriously and paint every week, the art ain’t gonna happen.

On some level, listening to him felt like a huge cosmic joke. Every semester, I give a variation on this lecture to at least one special student who is doing (at best) second-rate work in my class. I try not to take their mediocrity personally but it usually offends me.

How surreal then, that barely an hour ago, I was on the unfamiliar receiving end of that familiar monologue. It passed in a blur. But I think I heard something about my “tremendous intellect,” that I am “obviously a romantic” and that almost no one does orange art. That last point meant that I could actually be unique if I’m truly passionate about orange as my favorite color.

During The Talk, he critiqued the piece that I hastily threw together over the weekend. I was attempting a student trick — the one where you think you’re so good that you’ll defy the odds and pull a rabbit out of the hat.

But my teacher said my work was “all over the place.” Then he gave me an assignment: rip up bits of paper, paint them orange, arrange them on a canvas.

Don’t make it complicated, he said.

Think of it as writing music, he added.

The result doesn’t have to allude to anything definable, he stressed.

Okay, I agreed.

Then I told him that I would miss next week’s class. And you know what happened next — I got zapped by that Annoyed Teacher Glare.

Over the years, students have hit me with all kinds of excuses for their absences. Even so, I thought mine was pretty original. As he sat there waiting to hear what would come out of my mouth, I flashbacked to the explanations I’ve accepted from my students. They’ve missed class to observe holidays, adjust to new medications, deal with family dramas.

“Uh, um,” I said while my classmates bent over their projects, pretending they weren’t listening. “My best friend just became a grandma & I need to visit her and the baby in L.A.”

Unfortunately, he didn’t seem impressed. But he was somewhat appeased when I promised to bring him back a souveneir pen.

After that, I walked out of class thinking, “I’m too old for this.”

I am about to turn 54 very soon. I’m not giving out the date on Facebook or anywhere else for fear of presenting identity thieves with the info they need to access my Social Security number and finances. But I digress…

For half a century, I have wandered this earth in search of myself. I was a slacker in high school and barely got through college. This meant that I had the perfect personality to make it in the rough-and-tumble world of old school journalism.

Now it’s time to be someone new. Maybe I can become a person who finally finds the missing parts of herself. Maybe I can even be a long-time divorcee who finds romance with a man. True love.

One of the final comments from my teacher was that I need to “be brave.” Well if I’m going to rip up bits of paper, paint them orange, glue them on a canvas and feel that I just made art…no joke, that demands courage.

Okaaay. Gotta end this post because my thumbs are shot — this is the first time I’m blogging on my BlackBerry! Posting via cell phone is a cool feature of my new website set-up. So, ciao for now. ;) Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry