Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Not your mama's art class

My husband and son had gone off on a great Boy Scout adventure, and we girls had been left behind.

At first, I was very sad. Though I'm not exactly rugged, I've always enjoyed the family camp experiences that Cub Scouts offered. In large part because I figured out, it's a lot easier than being at home. Basically, you set up your tent, start a fire, plop down in your chair and watch the boys run around. Bingo, you're camping.

But, this was different. He was merging to Boy Scouts, and Mamas reminding them to brush their teeth before bed was no longer required or, rather, wanted. My daughter and I were on our own. I pouted for about 30 seconds before I realized, "Hey, wait a minute, we are on our own!"

Visions of pedicures, shopping, eating out and watching chick flicks danced through my head.

"What time do you leave?" I asked my husband.

I broke the news to my daughter and told her our itinerary.

She remained expressionless.

I, of course, took it personally. Having been 13 myself at one point, I assumed she didn't want to spend that much time with her mother.

"You can bring a friend," I said.

No change of expression.

I decided I needed to add something to the mix.

"And, we'll take an art class. Not just any old art class, an encaustic art class," I said.

When her expression didn't change, I said, "Encaustic means painting with hot wax!"

She raised an eyebrow. I had broken through!

Later, on our way to the class, she said, "I wish I could have gone camping with them."

Slightly bummed, we soon arrived. Greeting us was our art instructor, Valerie, and best of all, her daughter, Olivia, who is my daughter's age. Immediately, a smile crossed her face.

Now, I should clarify that I am no artist. I know because I've played a few humiliating games of Pictionary in my day. My daughter, on the other hand, is a natural, though she'd probably take offense at this. The truth is she practices all the time. She'll take a subject matter and draw it over and over until she perfects it, and then she moves on to another subject. I guess it's a lot like writing a first draft but more interesting to watch.

Valerie warned us that the hot plates were plugged in and, well, hot. I met Valerie a mere five months ago, and we became instant friends. She's creative, has a good sense of humor and, best of all, puts up with me. What more could I ask for in a friend?

She also has an adventurous spirit that I admire. She loves horror movies and even goes to see them by herself. I couldn't make it through the trailer of Paranormal Activity 3 at home surrounded by loved ones, yet she sits in a theater calmly munching on popcorn while watching a little girl get possessed.

"It wasn't as scary as part one and two," she said.

So, it was only fitting that the tools for our art class included not only hot wax but also razor blades and blow torches. In short, it wasn't your mama's art class. My equally adventurous and creative daughter loved it, as did I, once I figured out which side of the razor blade to use and to listen for the hiss before I clicked on the blow torch.

The end result? We have two masterpieces hanging on the wall in our kitchen. I caught my daughter running her finger over the colored wax, tracing the outline of the poppy flowers we had carved into them. The moment was soon interrupted by the return of the boys - dirty, tired and hungry. My daughter was no longer the only child, and our girls' weekend was over, yet the memory of our adventure remains etched in wax on the wall.

And, for that, I am very thankful.

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