Acrylic Painting

Like Grandma Moses, I began painting at age 80. I started by enrolling in an Art Circle in the St. Matthew’s-Maryland Drop-in located in the basement of WestEnd Commons where I lived.

The first time I went on a Thursday afternoon, I said to one of the artists I would like to paint a scene of northern lights.

“That’s too hard,” he said. “Start with something simple.”

So I did an acrylic of interlocking circular shapes with clogs around and called it “Wheels of Misfortune.” Somewhere in the painting was a hidden crack pipe. My partner Anne-Shirley Clough has that canvas now.

Most of the artists in that circle painted with watercolours, but I liked acrylics better. Water paints run too much and can’t be controlled, like a cat.

Acrylics are vibrant and dry fast, so I got a raft of bottles from the Dollar Store and produced a painting a week.

I hung them in my apartment, making it look like an art gallery. Soon there were far too many, so I gave some away. I gave my grandson a snowy owl based on a trip he and I had taken through the Whiteshell one winter. I gave my friend Lori Smith a scene she liked of mountains reflected on water.

My daughter Kirsten became my biggest fan, wanting scenes representing life growing up with her Dad.

Daughter Lara got an elephant because she collects them.

Daughter Rebecca asked me one day: “Can you paint me a picture for my kitchen, Dad?”

“What do you want?” I asked.

“Birch trees,” she said, so I painted her one on a long, tall canvas.

After a few years, when I moved in with Anne-Shirley, the collection had grown too big to store, so I photographed them and made 8 ½ x 11 prints to be put into a three-ring binder. She gave me some professional art paper which I cut into binder-size canvasses, and now everything I paint is small and stored.

I moved the big canvasses from the garage to the back lane one day. Sure enough, they disappeared quickly.

All my life I have been a professional writer. Now I wonder how long it will be until I am a professional artist. I have to sell something, and that has not happened yet.

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