For about a year I took oil painting lessons at a little art studio in a small town near Kansas City owned by a very elderly (90's?), very spry, very skillful woman named Rita. If she is still alive I thank her again for teaching me wonderful oil painting skills. I hope she lives and teaches forever. Each week I drove two hours roundtrip in the evening to go to Rita's classes, and I almost never go out in the evening so as to avoid nighttime troubles.
Rita's lessons were so good, so exciting, and so popular that she had many too many students. But she turned no one away, instead she fitted all of her students into her classroom by literally seating us shoulder to shoulder and easel to easel in tight rows. Once you were fitted into your place, it was quite awkward if not impossible to get out until the lesson was over. The lessons were an hour and a half of exhilarating, sweating effort to keep up with her as she led the entire class step by step, from tracing the image she provided onto our canvases, to adding oil color here and blending it there in the proper order, just as she demonstrated, to the end at which time we added our own artistic highlights and flourishes. Each week I was amazed at the end of class to see very different versions of the same painting emerge on forty canvases, a rustic barn, a basket of kittens, a bouquet of flowers, and the like.
When Rita told us that she had arranged for all of us to show our oil paintings in the arts and crafts building of a county fair, I chose to show several of my version of the traditional paintings that she taught, and also my own Cracked Brown Egg oil painting because I had been feeling somewhat constrained by those sentimental images. We all set up our oil paintings of barns, kittens, and flowers on easels in a cluster near Rita's spot at the county fair, and Rita made periodic public demonstrations of different oil painting techniques. I was very impressed by her. My Cracked Brown Egg drew pointing and guffaws from some rude boys which was amusing, and my traditional oil paintings were about on average with the others. We all got some nice smiles and compliments. The event was fun. I think a few oil paintings might have been sold. Not mine, but I still like to show my artwork and I have sold at different venues.
Getting to the event was a different story. I had my several paintings tied up in tarps to protect them, and I had wrapped my folded up easels the same way to protect them. A small town motorcycle policeman took one look at all of that stacked into my backseat and he decided that I, a middle-aged woman driving a nondescript car, looked like some kind of threat. This was a first for me. The motorcycle officer pulled me over quite sternly, maybe even rudely, and instead of telling me why he was stopping me, he got on his radio and began a tense conversation with his headquarters. I was nonplused so I just sat and waited until he was ready to let me go on my way. After quite a wait I decided to be proactive and I told him that I was now late to set up my artwork at the county arts and crafts building. I could see that he was not understanding me, so I turned around and peeled back some of the tarps to reveal my paintings and easels. His mouth dropped open and I realized that this young motorcycle officer had thought that my several easels all bundled up in tarps were big weapons under cover. He was quite angry at his mistake and I began to wonder if he would fabricate some charge against me to cover his mistake since he had most certainly called in his suspicions about me to the local police station. He did not tell me that I was free to go so I continued to sit in my car at the roadside where he had stopped me. He stalked back to his motorcycle where karma bite him. He had parked his motorcycle on an incline in the road and now it would not start. He was immensely embarrassed, with proverbial egg on his face, as he wheeled his big, heavy police motorcycle around, back and forth across a level part of the street until he finally got it started and roared away. After he left I assumed that I was free to go and I went on the art show where I had a great time.
Caption: Cracked Brown Egg
24.5 in x 31 in oils by Annmarie Throckmorton 2004