A chance to find a little bit of creativity inside yourself

Published 10:00 am Saturday, May 15, 2010

“I’d really like to start painting, but I just never seem to get-a-round-tuit.”

How many times have you heard that phrase? Or maybe instead of painting, you say “I always wanted to learn how to draw, or write, or build a boat.” Well, we can’t help the boat-building dreamers, but those of you who would like to spend time drawing or painting are welcome to join us at our ALAC Open Studio.

Starting June 8, the Albert Lea Art Center will have an open studio from 6 to 8 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. This is the opportunity for anyone who would like to share a couple of hours with others who are interested in jump-starting their creativity. We have talked to so many people who want to connect with the art community, and we decided that the Love Cruikshank Gallery, a studio/meeting/classroom/gallery area is the perfect place for people to “hang out together.”

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Love wanted the gallery to be a place for local, amateur artists to share their work, and she loved gatherings of creative people. Every month, on the second Tuesday, the Cruikshank gallery will be open with a couple of Art Center members hosting. You need not be an ALAC member to join us. This is not an organized classroom setting, and there is no cost to you. There will be a still life set up for those who come with no idea of what they may like to draw, but if you have a painting in progress and want to work on it, bring it along with your supplies. The Art on Broadway gift shop will have supplies available if there is anything you need, but feel free to bring your own.

Our intent is to bring artists together, beginners and experienced, to share ideas, to visit, have a cup of coffee, and to be inspired. The Open Studio is the opportunity for people of all ages to share an evening of creativity. I first met Steve Larson, whose paintings hang in Riverland College, when he and his daughter took a watercolor class from Stu Botten at the Art Center in the early 1980s. I remember thinking at the time, what a wonderful experience that must be for both father and daughter.

I was 38 years old when I took my first drawing class, and I was shocked when the instructor told us that everything we drew would be hung on the walls in the classroom for the other students to see. I just about chickened out. I was in a classroom with a bunch of 18-year-olds, and surely they were all much better than I was, I told myself. Well, some were and some weren’t. And I soon settled into the routine of sharing my drawings with other beginning artists.

Then the college science department put a netting over an inner courtyard and placed an injured owl there to heal before it was released, and our assignment was to draw the owl, and the drawing would be placed in the hallway for the general student body to see.

Again, I hesitated, but also survived this next step. Whether we were trying to draw a piece of popcorn or the student mailboxes, everyone was putting their skills to the test, and we enjoyed each other’s successes as if they were our own.

In a college painting class, our instructor had set up a still life with a rumpled, felt cowboy hat, a violin, and some fruit — an odd combination, but each item a different challenge. When he came around to critique our work, I thought he would compliment me on the precise, realistic hat I had painted, but instead he liked an apple that I had done. I thought the apple was rather sloppy and abstract, and couldn’t figure out what he liked about it.

I have since learned that art, like beauty, is in the eye and the heart of the beholder. The true significance is the peace that it brings to the artist. Will you ever create a masterpiece? Who cares? That is not the ultimate goal.

My classes were the beginning for me of years of enjoying art. Whether looking at paintings in a museum, designing a poster for a special event, or drawing the wrought iron design on a table, I find that I can get totally lost in the process, and time simply disappears.

A 60s-plus gentleman recently said to me, “Well, I help my daughter out, and I go for coffee. You know what retirement’s like.” My unexpressed thought was, “No. I don’t know what that is like. I have so many things that I want to do. I’m hoping retirement will be a time of satisfying those unfulfilled dreams, both for family and self.”

Please join us on the second Tuesday of June, enjoy our open studio, find a bit of creativity inside of you that you didn’t know was there. Get-a-round-tuit.

Bev Jackson Cotter is a member of the Albert Lea Art Center where “Inspired By Nature,” a show by Susan DeVries and David Lenz, will be on display through May 29.