Last week was my sweet neighborfriend’s birthday. The past two Tuesdays we’ve had the opportunity to paint together in celebration. It was something I never would have taken on by myself but when she agreed to go together, I was all for it. Though for the record, this was a style of painting I’d never done before.
I’ve gone to classes where we painted an owl or a tree on the beach or something more concrete and I’ve sat with Mess Cat on the back porch and painted things we’ve seen on Pinterest or ideas we’ve come up with ourselves, but I’ve never done an impressionistic painting.
Our teacher reminded us that the idea behind this was to be loose and free in our painting and covering the canvas.
I have OCD say what now?
Yeah, it was hard at first. But when I started letting go of what I perceived as imperfections, I really began to enjoy what I was doing and worked to make it my own. I was doing fine until I made the silhouette of the man on the sidewalk look like he had no neck. When I went back and touched him up, I could breathe again. He looked more like a human and less like the Hulk, thank goodness.
Last week we did all of the base colors, and outlining, but yesterday was all about adding the color and the detail. We moved quickly and with purpose. As we were finishing up, I stepped out of the room to rinse my brush. I walked back in and saw my friend’s painting from the doorway.
“Girl, that is fabulous!” And it really was.
She laughed. “Yeah, when you’re looking at it all the way across the room, right?”
As I tried to protest, our teacher spoke up, “Well yes, that’s how it is supposed to work. It’s impressionistic. When you look at it from a distance, it will look ‘better.'”
All I could think about was the movie “Clueless” and how they referred to someone as a “Monet”–“far away she looks great, a masterpiece, but up close she’s a mess.” (I’m ad libbing here, y’all. I haven’t seen that movie in YEARS.)
As we gathered our things and paintings and said our goodbyes, I saw this sign that I don’t remember being there before over near the front door to the gallery.
Amen. Some of the best things in my life came about when I took a trip outside my comfort zone. Some of the most beautiful and broken and hard and precious and moments I hold most dear in my heart came from crossing that line into the unknown.
Tonight I’m thankful for my friend who stepped way out of her comfort zone to paint for the first time something other than a room or piece of furniture. That’s the thing about comfort zones–they are much easier to leave when you have a friend at your side. And way more fun. Also, I’m thankful for the reminder that up close we can all be a mess, and that what we see from afar–from the outside looking in–that can be very deceiving.
And here’s what I am most thankful for in the midst of a day of painting–
this canvas I painted, this picture I created–it is an “up close mess, far away lovely thing” all together in one. Broken and beautiful. Messy and magnificent. Wacky and wonderful.
All in one.
Just like me.
Just like all of us, I’d daresay.
We are all of the beautiful and broken things, and maybe it’s time we start hanging that on the wall and letting folks up close enough to see all of who we are. The realness of our being.
It means being vulnerable, it means being raw and open, but if we really ever want people to see who we really are and all of our magnificent colors–not just the shadows or an impression–maybe it’s time to hang ourselves up for folks to see and appreciate and love. Up close and everything.
May we all begin to love the Monet that we are. One point at a time.
Love to all.