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Learning About Myself Through Painting Classes

May 11, 2017

I have a confession to make. Up until last fall, I was skeptical of group painting classes where people gather together to paint the same canvas and drink wine.

I always thought there would be no way I’d attend one of those classes because I am totally not artistic in the least. And I was intimidated. Seeing that perfect painted image, I’d feel anxious, thinking there was no way I could recreate that masterpiece.

Here’s the funny part. When I was young, I spent hours watching PBS painting shows even had my own canvases and acrylics so I could recreate the art. But over the years, I lost interest in that hobby.

As many of you know, last year we moved to Terre Haute and I literally did not know a soul in my new town. I started to get to know a few local boutique owners who offered painting and craft classes. In an attempt to meet nice, local people and do something different, I dipped my toes into the crafting waters through some art classes that Sophie and did together.

Then they offered a whimsical pumpkin canvas class. Knowing how much I love pumpkins and fall and trusting/liking the instructor I’d come to know, I decided to give the painting class a try.

While I was certainly nervous and felt a bit anxious, I really enjoyed my first painting class. It was — dare I say — relaxing in many ways. I liked doing something completely different with my brain and hands that didn’t involve typing or thinking in the same way I do during the day.

Here’s a photo of my first painted canvas. And while I was critical the swirls didn’t turn on the way they looked in the model, I’m proud that I took the leap of faith and did something new.

Since then, I’ve gone on to paint several more canvases through the Painting and Pie classes offered through the local parks and recreation department. It’s an relaxing evening of painting, listening to music and eating a slice of pie at the Grand Traverse Pie Company. Since I’m not a big wine drinker, the pie is a perfect accompaniment!

One of the lessons that’s been important for me to learn is that painting is a process, and a the work cannot be “judged” until the end. What I mean is I can’t spend time criticizing my work at each step. It’s so easy to say, “That line is crooked” or “The flower is too small.”

Instead, I try very hard to simply paint in the moment. Then at the end, step back and look at the entire view. It’s amazing how the work changes from the beginning and middle to the end. And how a “flaw” transforms into part of the beautiful whole.

Here’s a few of the canvases I’ve painted over the months.

This covered bridge painting is probably my favorite.

I was most nervous to paint Rudolph. I’m still critical of the wreath and his small head.

I love this one!

The pop of the the red cardinals against the wintry birch trees adds so much.

This canvas of hot coffee in the winter morning background was in my kitchen for quite a while.

It was a perfect, rainy the evening the night I painted this one.

April showers bring May flowers!

Embracing painting has been an eye-opening experience for me. It’s helped me find a new way to be creative, and I love capturing nature and the change of seasons on canvas. I’ve also given myself permission to accept that my art doesn’t have to be perfect — that itself is a great lesson to learn!








8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2017 2:59 pm

    Love your paintings Leah! I think it’s so important to flex other creative muscles, though I probably don’t do it often enough. And hello?? The pie aspect? What a great concept. I do like wine though so I think I will open up a franchise of Painting, Pie and Pinot here in Texas 🙂

    • Leah permalink*
      May 18, 2017 12:29 pm

      Thanks Caryn! I bet you could totally get a painting, pie and pinot group together! It would be awesome.

  2. May 11, 2017 4:28 pm

    I LOVE that you’re doing this, Leah. Was just talking to a friend last week about getting back into drawing, myself. Something I never really did with regularity, but something I enjoyed when I was a kid and when I took a drawing class in college! Your art is lovely!!!

    • Leah permalink*
      May 18, 2017 12:29 pm

      Thanks so much, Melissa! I’d love to see some of your drawings sometime. I bet you have some amazing images of all the nature that surrounds you.

  3. May 12, 2017 9:11 pm

    Leah–Good for you! I encourage you to keep at it, because I can see the talent brewing in your work. I remember crying as well as getting giddy when I connected to painting at a very cellular level early on. It is magical as writing can be. You are so talented in many ways. Enjoy the ride!


    • Leah permalink*
      May 18, 2017 12:30 pm

      Thanks, Lesley. Yes, there is a bit of magic tied into it all. It’s neat to see how it comes alive on canvas.

  4. May 17, 2017 9:46 pm

    I love that you did this to meet people! It’s exactly the kind of thing I’d suggest in my friendship column. And I also love that it became another form of creativity for you.

    • Leah permalink*
      May 18, 2017 12:31 pm

      Thanks Nina! That’s neat you’d suggest the same thing to meet people.

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