January 11th, 2004


Girls Night Out

Yesterday was Girls Night Out, although it started at noon. I suppose it would be more accurate to say it began with Girls Afternoon Out, then blended seamlessly into Girls Night Out. It was a great time, and SG was so cool to organize it!

The plan for the day was Painting and Stone Soup. We were each supposed to bring an ingredient for soup. I brought corn. We were also supposed to bring creativity and painting supplies (those of us who had them (painting supplies, I mean. We all have creativity.)). She planned for us to paint!

Now, I am not an "artist". I don't believe I have painted since 9th grade art class. I like to draw now and then, but I don't know anything about painting. The idea of painting was intimidating to me, but she prepped everything, laid out lots of acrylic paints and supplies, and basically made it painless and easy. All I had to do was pick up a brush and attack a white board.

Even that took me quite some time. I dawdled, I looked at art books, I looked at the creations of some of the other girls. I couldn't think of anything to paint. Finally I decided that inspiration wasn't going to hit me, and I'd have to just give it a try anyway.

I picked up a paper plate, and I squirted some acrylic paints onto it - blue, red, and yellow. I picked a medium-sized brush. I stared at the white board. The white board stared back.

I mixed the red and blue together (hoping for purple but ending up with more like brown), then spread it in a line onto the board. There! The first step had been taken! The board, no longer white, conceded defeat.

I turned the line into a triangle, just seeing how the paints and brush worked. Then whimsically I put bug-antennas onto the top of the triangle. Tired of the purple-brown, I took some yellow and made a big swooping line. It reminded me of a yellow duckie, so I made it into a duck's head. The duck's head showed more promise than the triangle had, so I took red and started painting over the triangle, blending it away. As I made big swishing lines with the red, it began to remind me to feathers. Then it reminded me of flames...and I had my subject.

I was painting a phoenix. Or maybe a fire-dragon. Possibly just a chicken on fire. It was not entirely clear at first, although it ended up being identified as a phoenix in my mind.

It was fun! I learned a lot as I went, and it evolved a lot as it went. It was such a neat experience, and I'm so glad SG set it up for us - it's something that probably never would have occurred to me to try on my own. And now, hours of work later, I have a nifty painting I made all by myself! I'm proud of it.

The soup also came out well. My bird was almost finished when the soup was done, so the timing was good. After dinner and watching Freaky Friday (a fun cute movie), we retreated back into the basement and I painted a background around my bird. It looked much cooler with the background. The whole bird was done with just those 3 primary colors and one brush, but I got more adventurous with the background. I used black, blue, green, and silver...plus two different brushes!

I read an article once, where the author pointed out: if you go into an elementary school classroom and ask how many are able to draw, everyone will raise their hands. If you do the same thing in a boardroom meeting, next-to-nobody will raise their hands. It is because we have grown afraid, and we believe that if we are not experts at something then it is not worth doing. Children do not have that fear, they just enjoy drawing, creating, and expressing themselves. They don't worry about failure or whether they have "skill", they just do for the sake of doing it.

It's cool to get in touch with my creative side again. Very primal. No words, no programs, just spreading color all over a blank space, creating something out of nothing. It was a really good experience!
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