Category Archives: Creativity

Paint by Numbers



So I really, really wanted to paint last week. I got the go ahead to one of those painting studios where you pay a fee and get to have a class wherein everyone paints the same basic painting while imbibing alcohol.  I approve of this, and I am unanimous in this. The alcohol part rather cinches it.

I got the money together, got Fiancé Man to watch both my kids, grabbed the BYOB’s that I wanted, double-checked the website, and drove to the painting studio.

It was closed.

I was dejected. I really just wanted to paint. I wanted to make some art. Yes, it was going to run at least $35 for one painting, but it was the experience I wanted. I just wanted some paint time. But no, no paint time for me. 

See, at home I’ve got all these blank canvases and paint supplies just begging to be used. At home I also have nearly endless chores or commitments, so I very rarely turn my hand to painting. It’s just so frustrating to start making art and then get interrupted by everyone needing a piece of me, even if it’s just me listening. Because I don’t listen if I’m doing something creative. I get interrupted. And frustrated.

But here, here away from home for an entire month, I’d managed to get an evening free from tethers in order to go paint and reconnect with my happy place. But no.

Then yesterday, I dragged my children all throughout this one Town Centre (it’s officially high-class if they can afford to invert the ‘e’) window shopping. Lo and behold, there was another one of those little painting studios. And it had kids’ classes.

I had to ask: how much were the kids’ classes? $25.

Now $25 is not bad. It’s reasonable. Paint, brushes, canvas, instruction, childcare? In all honesty, $25 is cheap.

Except when the sale of your house didn’t go through and you realize that it would be $50 because you have two children. And really, would you want them to come home with two of the same painting? And what about my paint time? Well, they offered adult classes at $35-$45. Let me get the math straight: $50 + $35 = $85, plus wine. And that would be one painting each.

So on the way home from yoga today, I stopped by the arts & crafts store and investigated. And walked away with seven canvases, 25 assorted brushes, paints in every color (plus some) of the rainbow, palettes, and an extra 4-piece canvas set for $45 after tax.

Yes, I am the coolest mom ever. I could ensure painting bliss in multiple quantities for my kids and have a date-night “in” with my fiancé painting, too.

I opened up the canvases and paints and started researching great subject matter, and my kids decided that they wanted to redeem their extra hour of XBOX play time instead of painting.

And I honestly only felt a teeny tiny smidgeon bad about that. Because in all honesty, I had purchased the supplies for me. I wanted to paint. I was making that happen. And, by the numbers, I was saving money doing it at home.

I searched around for subject matter, and pulled a blank. I wanted something I’d like to see hanging for a long time, not just something whimsical and topical, not just something I could copy from someone else’s idea mill. 

So I sketched a close-up of my red-eared slider turtle, Snowflake. Halfway through the sketch, I started to lose interest in the subject, so I knew that would be an awful thing to try to muster up the stamina to paint. Then I thought about paining one of the sea turtles we’d seen while scuba diving, so I browsed the underwater photos.

And that’s when inspiration struck: us – my fiancé and me – scuba diving the week he proposed.

I didn’t think I’d get tired of seeing that any time soon.

So I turned to a new page in my sketch book and the sketches came easily – one from a photo I’d taken of him along the ocean floor, one of me skirting a coral outcropping, and several of the coral and fish we’d seen.

And then I decided I wanted it to be silhouettes of all of it. I love silhouettes. I’ve always loved silhouettes, and they don’t require perfection of detail, just perfection of outline.

A couple of hours later, I had my finished piece.

Even better, I was at peace.

And my fiancé? He liked it, too. And that was kinda sorta the point.