You go to your first oil class. The class you have planned for and excitedly anticipated for a year. You build canvas and gesso it. You get homework – a black and white painting. There is plenty of time. It is Wednesday.
You spend your Thursday evening packing and your weekend at family wedding festivities. You promise yourself that Monday and Tuesday evening are set aside for homework. But Monday you recover and clean. You set up and light a still life.
And Tuesday, well, Tuesday you are faced with a dilemma. You have a place you have promised yourself you will go. And to keep that promise you cannot spend the evening painting. You go, telling yourself that when you return you will paint. In utter denial of the fact that you are not a night person.
You arrive home at 9:30 PM. You ponder the paintbrushes. You do not paint. You sleep.
You wake up at 5:00. Because you are a morning person. You ponder the paintbrushes. You decide. One hour. You will give the sketch in oil one hour. At least it will be something.
You lay out your palette. You start the underpainting. You get a whiff of the paint and suddenly remember a paint by numbers painting you did as a child. It was a Christmas present. A picture of a man in a boat on a stormy sea. You decide you love the scent of oil paints as well as the thwap of the brush as you load it.
Two and a half hours later you are cleaning brushes. You have not studied. You have not written. You have not done your surya namaskara. You have not eaten, or showered, or dressed. None of the things that make you happy to rise at 5:o0 are done. But you have a painting. Your first oil painting. And while it could be better (much much better) and it is still wet, it is done enough and it is yours.
Miraculously, you make it to work by 9:00.
You are not on time to class that evening. You learn many things you did wrong in the morning. But you are happy to be there. Tired. Very tired. But happy to be there.
When you arrive home from class it is raining. Both your morning painting and your evening painting are still wet. You leave them in the car. They stay in the car for three days, until it stops raining. Your car smells like an artist’s studio. It is a nice smell.
The next week you have been busy again. You have not done your homework. You have begun to awake with that thrumming sensation in the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet – the fatigue that did not leave you while sleeping. You tell yourself it is ok that you did not do another black and white painting. You drive halfway to class and turn around. You are bone tired. You wonder if it is because you had a guitar lesson the night before. From 9pm-10pm. You are not a night person. You arrive home and promise yourself: this will be the only class you will miss this semester. You will not have guitar next week. The week after – well, you’ll figure it out.
The next week you again tell yourself: it is ok that your paintbrushes remained dry. Tuesday night you find yourself on the couch, struggling to stay awake but in reality dozing off next to a phone with sys admins and database developers discussing what to do when and what might be wrong. You don’t really get to bed until 2am.
You go to work on Wednesday, alternately wondering and then remembering why you are so tired. Then it is time to leave – to go to class from 7pm until 10pm. You are tired. You feel it in the palms of your hands the soles of your feet. It is a moment of decision. This is not like taking yet another drawing class. You need to learn the basics one by one. If you do not go, you are going to be frustrated for the rest of the semester. You have wanted to take this class for so long. But now you want to let the class go.
You call your sister from the office parking garage, because this is how you make these kinds of decisions. You decide you need to let go. There will be another term.
You go home. You write. You do your surya namaskara – 13 salutations to a sun already set. One for each day of the month so far. You play guitar – G chord, downstroke four times, move to the A chord, downstroke four times. And a scale. You give your choral music some time at the piano – more complicated chords, whose names you ought to know from those childhood lessons. You eat. You iron. You read.
You climb into bed. You are lulled to sleep by the thrum thrum thrum of the fatigue in the your hands and feet sliding off into the cool sheets.
the end, for now