Monday, August 1, 2016

#SOL16: Painting By Numbers


Last week I went to a painting party--you may know it as sip and paint and although the concept sounds like it should be fun, I found it painstakingly dull.  I did not expect to paint a picture by following exact directions from a young woman who demonstrated what we were to paint as she talked and talked and talked.

Paint a blue rectangle the width of your hand and the height of your palm, like this...Now add a bit of white paint, just a touch to the tip of the papa bear brush and now draw a line, like this...Rinse your brush like this... and so on.

Tonight, painting a 'Tuscan scene' was a lesson in tedium. At the end of the two hours, everyone in the room had more or less painted the same picture, in the same style. Who knew such things happened?

Throughout the night I imagined how Rob would have laughed. I realized on the way home that I often counted on him to translate the suburban experience. The irony here was that Rob was from Brooklyn, but nonetheless had uncanny way of being able to uncover truths rather easily. I imagined a conversation that could have happened as I drove home.

M: I think I might go to a sip and paint art experience.
R: A what?
M: It's a social thing at an art studio. You paint and drink wine.
R: Why would you do that? You go every Friday to an art studio.
M: This is more social.
R: I bet this is a paint by numbers thing.
M. No, Why would it be that?
R: Everyone paints the same scene, in the same manner as everyone else.
M: Why would we all be painting the same thing?
R: Cause the idea is not about expression, but rather about replication.
And then he might have talked to me about Walter Benjamin and The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction and hours would have passed.  This is what life with Rob was largely about. He so often was able to distill the marrow of an experience. I miss that. It's these kind of evenings that make me miss him even more than usual. On the way home, with my paint by number atrocity in the back seat, I couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for myself. This doing something social, something new was an epic fail.

And in some ways that feels okay.



On the evening of the paint and sip party, I spent three hours at an art studio painting with watercolor as I have done for the last two weeks. It's a challenging medium I have no experience with and today I painted a front stoop and wooden doors of a city brownstone. I sketched the scene and then tried to face the inherent challenges that come with representing such angles. Now add water and well my hands do not work as I would like them. But, I love my stairs. The hours passed in a blink. I enjoyed the loose banter with the others using the studio and appreciated all I am learning. There's such intensity in the work and the artist who leads the session is also a connoisseur of music and so there is interesting background that isn't filled with a lot of talk, save a few demonstrations, and the hours pass swiftly. I was shocked today when I looked at my phone and noticed it was already after 1:00 p.m.


Living with loss means means understanding that it isn't simply a matter of events that I crave. I crave relationships--connecting with others deeply.  Losing Rob has made the familiar less so and the normal mostly absent.


  1. Yes, the normal is absent.
    I love your conversation with Rob.
    So hard to live without that ongoing

    1. I enjoyed imagining the conversation and it may me felt closer.

  2. "distill the marrow of an experience." Oh how I love that phrase! Seems to me that this phrase, of your own creation, tells so much about who you are, and who Rob was, and who you were with Rob. He feels very much alive to me, via your heart and voice.

    1. That is so comforting that Rob feels alive to you through these words. You would have liked him as he would have enjoyed you.