Columns

Painting over art-shaming scars

My reaction might have been a little over the top.

“I would rather have my eyelashes plucked out one by one while listening to alpine yodeling and drinking beet juice mixed with cod liver oil,” I said.

My friend raised her hands in surrender.

“Wow! OK then. We’ll skip paint night and just go to happy hour someplace.”

Some people might think a suggestion to have a glass of wine and create art with a good friend sounds delightful.

I’m not those people, and I have Mrs. Pendergast to thank for that.

Mrs. Pendergast was my second-grade teacher. While my reading skills soared under her tutelage, my art skills plummeted.

I dreaded art time more than I dreaded dodge ball during PE, and that’s saying something. My undiagnosed nearsightedness meant I never saw that pink rubber ball coming till it smacked me silly.

When Mrs. P. directed us to don our paint shirts, I groaned. Wearing my dad’s old button-down dress shirt was mortifying. It was dirty for heaven’s sake! It was crusty and stained, and it didn’t match my carefully coordinated outfit!

Of course, the reason it was stained was because I could never seem to gauge the right amount of paint. I would think I had just the right quantity of yellow for my sun, only to watch in dismay as golden globs streaked down the paper and smeared into my already-crusty sleeves.

“Oh, for Pete’s sake!” Mrs. P. scolded. “Your sun is bleeding all over your paper!”

With that she snatched my art attempt off the easel, crumpling it in disgust, commanding me to start over.

Her bleeding-sun comment inspired me.

I dipped my brush into what I hoped was just the right amount of scarlet, and painted a red sun, dripping droplets of blood from the sky.

“Good grief!” shouted Mrs. P. “That is disgraceful! What is the matter with you!?”

My classmates tittered as once again she ripped my paper from the easel.

When the class went out to recess, I stayed behind, waiting for the paint to dry so I could place my painting at the bottom of the stack, safe from mocking eyes.

So, you can see why my reaction to a friend’s suggestion of paint night was a tad vehement.

But a couple of years passed, and recently my husband came home and announced that we’d been invited to go to Pinot’s Palette with some friends.

Much to his surprise, I agreed.

It was time to silence the shaming voice of Mrs. Pendergast once and for all. My painting might stink, but at least I’d have a glass of wine to ease the sting.

On Jan. 26, I donned a paint-spattered apron, sat at an easel and picked up a brush.

To my joy I discovered we were going to replicate a painting of the northern lights. No sun in sight. And a perfect choice since we’d invited Derek’s sister and her Norwegian husband to join us. They’ve actually seen the northern lights.

I listened carefully to the instructor.

“The first lesson is you must learn the difference between your wine glass and your water glass,” she said.

That was easy. My wine glass was the one without any paintbrushes in it. Yet.

The next lesson covered what to do if we accidentally got paint on our clothes. It seemed like the instructions were tailored just for me.

In the event of a paint emergency, our teacher told us to, “Run to the sink, scream, flail, and use Murphy’s Oil Soap.”

She paused. “But if it’s been more than 15 minutes you have a new outfit.”

With that we were ready to begin.

I panicked a bit. But my husband’s friend said, “Just dip your brush into your wine and drink your water.”

I did the opposite, and soon I was well on my way.

My brother-in-law wandered over to check out my progress.

“Cindy, you are a born artist!” he exclaimed.

He is a bit of a hogwash artist, but his encouragement was appreciated nonetheless.

“By now your canvas is covered with paint,” the instructor said.

And mine was. I’d followed instructions. I’d mixed blue and green and made teal. And I hadn’t dipped my sleeve in my palette. Yet.

Shades of doubt seeped in when I had trouble blending the first swooshes of white into the night sky, but soon we were on to stippling stars and my true talents emerged.

“I am the BEST at stars,” I proclaimed.

Of course, one glass of wine had turned into two at this point, but isn’t that why they call it liquid courage?

At the end of the evening my evergreens were a bit wonky, and I hadn’t mastered blending, but by golly, my stars sparkled.

I sat at the easel and lifted my glass in silent salute.

Good night Mrs. Pendergast, wherever you are.

artist_Hval

Contact Cindy Hval at dchval@juno.com. She is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation.” You can listen to her podcast “Life, Love and Raising Sons” at SpokaneTalksOnline.com. Her previous columns are available online at http://www.spokesman.com/staff/cindy-hval/ Follow her on Twitter at @CindyHval

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Columns

Lessons From the Bowl

Like most Seahawks fans we rooted hard for the Atlanta Falcons during the Super Bowl on Sunday. Birds of a feather flocking together, united in Tom Brady disdain.

Well, we all know how that turned out.

But in between kickoff and that stunning win by the New England Patriots we had a lot of fun watching the game with my brother David and his wife, Becky. We all enjoy football and are pretty much experts on the game.

Our son Alex was a record-setting kicker for the Mt. Spokane Wildcats, and David played defensive tackle for the Anderson Air Force Base Vikings in Guam. Obviously, we’re well-qualified to loudly shout play calls at the television. Our commentary is usually spot-on, too, though Derek did get himself in a bit of trouble.

As the game began he opined of the Patriots, “Once you’ve been to the Super Bowl so many times it’s not a big deal; kinda like being married 30 years.”

Sadly, I’d left my yellow flag at home and couldn’t call the foul.

But when I posted his comment on Facebook, friends took care of that for me. One commented, “Dude. Either stop drinking or stop talking.”

Another asked, “Have the flowers been delivered yet?”

Thankfully, we were distracted by the latest round of Super Bowl commercials. Many of the ads were positively perplexing, like the artsy ad for something called LIFE WTR.

“What on earth is Life Wtr?” I asked.

“It’s water with the vowels strained out,” my brother replied.

Then there was the 84 Lumber advertisement. I thought it was lovely and moving, but like many I didn’t have a clue what the ad was supposed to sell. Maybe compelling political statements are the new Budweiser frogs.

I missed some commercials due to using the break for what God intended commercials for, but I did see the adorable NFL Super Bowl Babies and the Melissa McCarthy Kia ad was hysterical. Also, I’m sure I’m not the only woman in America who has watched the Mr. Clean ad more than a dozen times.

However, we were all puzzled as to why Terry Bradshaw has to remove his pants to get a stain off his shirt and agreed that Spuds MacKenzie should have been left to rest in peace.

“How can he hold a beer can if he can’t open it because he doesn’t have thumbs?” Derek asked.

None of us had the answer.

Snacks are a big part of Super Bowl fun and Becky’s homemade pizzas were delicious. Alas, the Oregon-made amber I purchased for Derek was not. Apparently, it tasted like pine trees. Or turpentine. What can I say? I’m not a beer drinker. Anyway, it didn’t hiss forever like the Busch beer in the Super Bowl ad.

At least this year’s halftime show didn’t leave a bad taste in our mouths. Though none of us are huge Lady Gaga fans, at least her clothes stayed on and we could understand her lyrics.

When the game resumed we witnessed an epic moment when Patriot Martellus Bennett and Falcon Dwight Freeney got their helmets stuck together like two mountain goats locking horns. Talk about an awkward dance.

Speaking of dancing, upon the advice of friends I spent considerable time Sunday morning practicing the Dirty Bird – the Falcons celebratory touchdown dance. I didn’t practice this at church, which I’m sure my pastor appreciated, but had planned to break it out as the confetti fell on the Falcon’s victory.

We were so sure of this victory that David opined Brady was a shoe-in for MVP – for the Atlanta Falcons.

I replied, “I’m sure Tom Brady’s balls are pretty deflated right about now.”

Of course those words came back to haunt us, just like Tom Brady came back to rally his team to an amazing, unprecedented, overtime victory.

It was like watching Lucy pulling the football out from Charlie Brown. The only comfort was that at least it wasn’t the Seahawks sitting dejectedly on the sidelines.

I’ve always found the Super Bowl to be educational and I learned several valuable lessons on Sunday.

No. 1: Don’t send a wine-drinker to buy beer.

No. 2: Men who mop are super sexy, even if they aren’t named Mr. Clean.

No. 3 And never, ever count Tom Brady out.

 

Contact Cindy Hval at dchval@juno.com. She is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation.” You can listen to her podcast “Life, Love and Raising Sons” at SpokaneTalksOnline.com. Her previous columns are available online at spokesman.com/ columnists. Follow her on Twitter at @CindyHval.

War Bonds

War Bonds in Walla Walla

Tomorrow I’ll be signing copies of War Bonds at the Book & Game Company in Walla Walla, Washington.

Famed for it’s wineries, downtown Walla Walla has a great shopping district. And if you haven’t bought your mom, wife or grandmother a Mother’s Day gift yet, come in and see me and get a signed copy of War Bonds 🙂

There’s more information in this write up from the Walla Walla Union Bulletin.