Oil or Pastel?
Brimsmore Art School is a five minute commute, along an undulating road flanked by picturesque vineyards and beautiful views of the ocean.
In the cooler months I can see swirls of wood smoke rising from the chimney atop its quaint weatherboard studio.
The first morning I attended I could feel the stir of butterflies in my stomach. I had never been to an art class before and as I gazed around the room I could see no less than eight other people, each of whom were working on an impressive array of paintings. I felt out of my depth and it was all I could do not to make a swift, if not impolite exit.
Teacher Wendy greeted me warmly, asking “What would you like to do Emily?”
“I have absolutely no idea.” I replied in a shy and sheepish tone.
This environment was far removed from any of the decisions I had to make as an Occupational Therapist and a world away from advising people with regard to propagation and seasonal planting schedules during my horticultural career.
Mum paints with pastels I thought.
“Perhaps I should have a go at pastels” I offered with little or no conviction.
At the time it seemed like a casual almost flippant decision - yet one that would have an unforeseen and remarkable impact on my life.
These days I lug my heavy basket (brimming with pastel sticks and containers) into the studio every Friday morning.
Inside it is always cosy and warm, the room filled with conversation and bursts of laughter.
While I work on a number of paintings in my studio at home, I always keep one aside to work on exclusively in class. The feedback and encouragement I receive from my fellow students is a tremendous motivation and Wendy's instruction continues to be a wonderful asset.
One of the first pastel paintings I completed in class and which later became the subject of my very first award was entitled Sunny Sojourn. It is an image I captured at the Hastings jetty on Westernport Bay, while limited edition prints are available here.