Monday, March 7, 2011

How to get from art supplies to spring...

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 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!


  1. I was an art major for a while in college. While I changed majors, I never changed the love of art and the excitement of new supplies. I have always bought art supplies because they call out to me in the store . (?) Fortunately, one of my older daughter has found them and is making incredible use of them. It makes me feel good that they are being used and she is doing so well with art! I hope the painting class is a bright spot for your dad.

  2. You pegged it! I love arts/crafts stores, not necessarily for the "stuff" that is there, but for all the possibility...and I'd never really been able to pin down the exact reason why I find them so danged enticing.

  3. I am so jealous of Dad getting to take painting classes...Though I graduated from art school many years ago, there is something special about the challenge of presenting yourself within the guidelines of the set assignment for a class (or maybe I am just weird lol)

    I adore art supply stores, the smell and the feel and as you mentioned the excitement of the endless possibilities of creation all housed in one room...Look goosebumps.

    Please keep us updated on how he does...Maybe he will be nice and let us see some of his work one day :)

    Blessings Kelsie

  4. I can't draw a straight line, and I really envy people who can. Your Dad sounds like quite the guy. It's so wonderful that he still can find things to be enthusiastic about.

    Have the doctor go over his medications. I think that 89 is rather late to start showing signs of Alzheimer's. A lot of times, with just a little looking, you can find a reason for the mental slipping, and correct it.

  5. I am a retired art teacher who continues to hold a class at our farm (past 9 years). My oldest student was 91, from Ecuador and a fabulous artist. So good for the soul.

  6. Good for you and your dad. I would think at his age, he's allowed to meander and forget. I do it now and I'm 52!

    Cindy Bee

  7. Sounds like a nice visit with your dad. I remember my grandmother would lose focus like that in her old age. She was still sharp as a tack when she died, a little slower in her response maybe but always right on target.

    Hope your dad enjoys his class. Sounds like a great thing to do with his time.

  8. Your post brought back memories from when my husband took me to an art store to pick out some supplies when we were newlyweds and dirt poor. I was in awe of all the beautiful colors of paint and whatnot, but couldn't afford hardly anything. We had to choose the absolute cheapest stuff. I never did learn to paint well. My mother-in-law tried painting, got frustrated, and gave up, passing on all her supplies to me many years later. I still have them.

  9. What a nice daughter you are.

  10. Good for your dad! You are a good duaghter for helping him get his supplies. I hope he enjoys his class. Now what do you think he will paint? A bowl of fruit? A seascape? Or maybe a nude? Oh my!

  11. Wow Cyndi! What a beautifully written piece. I admire your heart, perceptiveness and your gifted way with words. I think it is neat that your dad is eager to try something nude - I mean new! (Got that from Becky).


  12. Hey, everyone, thanks for all of the sweet comments. I'll post about his progress...if he ever lets me see something he has painted!


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