I saw Mrs van Oordt not too long ago, playing the piano at my nieces ballet exam. I was so tempted to go and greet her - she was a great class teacher, strict but good. I was tempted to introduce myself as the girl who she singled out amongst the entire choir as the one who was "off key and messing up every song", the one who she could "not understand how I managed to get there in the first place". She made me leave the hall and sit outside in the corridor until practice was over and my mom came to collect us.
So that was my singing career. Perhaps she really did all my family and friends a great favour but I will never forget that day.
Art was a similar thing, not that I was ever thrown out of a class. Art is something that you judged yourself against others. I happened to have Jennifer Fenton sitting next to me and she could draw. Mick Jordaan could draw. I could not draw so drawing was also something that I never pursued until last year.
A walk in Kirstenbosch with my friend Annie, exchanging our bucket list wishes and a few ideas and we soon had a group of 10 friends signed up to have art lessons around my table one night a week.
The second course is almost finished and it is amazing to see how one teacher, sharing her knowledge, offering guidance and encouragement but never judging or criticising has got the entire group to believe in themselves. It has been harder trying to convince one particularly self-critical pupil in the class but last week I almost had a tear in my eye when I saw the pride in this "very self-critical" pupil's face when we all admired her very fine effort and, amazingly, she too saw the beauty in it.
We can all now appreciate what art is all about. There is no right or wrong and we have all developed our own style. Everybody can draw. Dalene asked me the other evening if I had seen the look of surprise on Annie's face when I had made a comment about "Matisse's self portrait being pretty average (actually I used that three lettered Afrikaans word*)". I was probably getting a bit ahead of myself and not fully appreciating the beauty of his work. I am still not convinced.
It wasn't this one though - (similar)
We will be starting a third course soon and I hope that this is something that we can continue to do and grow with as group for a long time.
I also hope the girls are not going to be cross (or ask me for royalties) because I have taken the liberty to share some of our art.
It is good to feel vulnerable sometimes girls and I am brave, so here are some of the mandalas we are working on at the moment. Still "work in progress" and lots of filling in and shading to be done.
Quick quiz - Besides the pretty average* self-portrait, can you spot the other Matisse in amongst our "real art"?
Well done girls. Anyone wanting to put pencil to paper, form a group to share in this wonderful activity or have access to a studio of sorts, please let me know. It is a wonderful, therapeutic and energising way to spend a couple of hours and Annie is just the best teacher ever.
AND... anyone know of a compassionate singing teacher or are there some things that are a gift and can never be taught?