Yesterday we took my dad to the artist supply store. He is 89. He is taking a painting class. Hooray for Dad - I'm so proud of him! But, to be honest, it was a bit sad. In many ways I felt like I was taking my young son shopping to prepare for some new adventure. Dad had his shopping list of recommended items from the instructor. We went up and down the aisles in the store to find the items. We discussed the perceived pros and cons of things, and in many ways, it was the blind leading the blind! Although I enjoy crafts I am not an artist and other than one required art class in college, I have no training. Dad used to dabble in oil painting, but couldn't recall if he had favorite brushes or palette knife shapes, and I'm sure things have changed a great deal since then, anyway.
Dad may have early stages of Alzheimer's. It's hard to arrive at a definitive diagnosis. He is forgetful, but is that Alzheimer's or just a well-used brain? He also gets distracted easily - which I think is a new behavior because I believe I didn't fall far from the tree and I am very focused and 'driven' when I am trying to accomplish a task - like getting the supplies on the list! I am very linear....first get this, then find that...as we work our way down the list or through the aisles of the store. Dad used to be like that. However, as we'd pass something at the store Dad would often stop and investigate. The supplies in the cart grew with each detour!
It took us well over an hour before he was ready to check out. In fact, we stayed beyond the store's closing hour and they had to let us out! Dad had all of the recommended colors of paint, his brushes, a palette knife and some paper. He also had a folding easel, a covered palette with extra papers and his art box to hold all of his supplies.
I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon with Dad. I love art stores! What is it about art stores that is so appealing to me? Is it the perfect tubes of paint in all of those beautiful colors, all lined up in rainbow color progression? Is it admiring the varied shapes and the soft feel of the paint brushes?
I believe it is more than that. I think the appeal is a result of the anticipatory feeling of something to come... something new... a promise of something beautiful that is to be created. It is not unlike the excitement of knowing that spring, and all that comes with it, is just around the corner.
We dropped Dad off at his apartment. He walked into the lobby with a jaunty air and a spring in his step, carrying the bag of supplies in one hand, his art box in the other and the easel under his arm. Perhaps he is feeling that excitement too!