ABOARD THE AMALEGRO, On the Seine — The dentist from Atlanta picked up his brush, filled it with a large dollop of red acrylic, and began to paint for the first time in his life.
Dr. Jerry Richman had never painted before, but he and his wife love art and collect it for both their home and his dental office. He had signed onto this AMALegro riverboat cruise because he wanted to see the famous gardens in Giverny where the beloved artist, Claude Monet, lived and worked.
As far as taking the art lessons offered aboard our “Art Illumination” cruise . . . well, what the heck;
At the beginning of our introductory class, teacher Elizabeth Grebler, (art degree from California State University at Northbridge), urged us to remember the light and the color and the “mirror of the clouds” that we saw yesterday at Monet’s wonderful home. Dr. Richman was not sure what would emerge on his canvas (and the same could be said for my husband and me, who sat at our easels directly opposite him). He began his version of Monet’s garden in a strong primary red.
“I didn’t follow her directions,” he later admitted, noting that Grebler had advised us to mix our pigments in soft pinks, greens and blues.
Two hours later, when the class ended, the dentist’s Giverny lilies had a strong resemblance to a tooth extraction or a root canal.
No matter, he was delighted. Regardless of the results “the Monet visit was one of the most exceptional excursions I’ve ever taken,” he declared. He was just happy to be in an art class after seeing the master’s home.
Meanwhile, my husband and I — having never painted anything except our house shutters — had our own mixed results, to put it mildly. My husband’s attempt to recreate the Oriental lily pond in Monet’s muted pastels looked like the work of a crazed Van Gogh minutes after poor Vincent had cut off his right ear.
As for mine, the wet paper towel I had used to clean my brushes was clearly more artistic than what was on my finished canvas. Has anyone ever framed a used paper towel?
On the other side of the room, Marty Bouchard of Las Vegas was feeling better about her artistic talent. She had been so nervous about taking the class that she had gone to Grebler before it began and expressed her fears of embarrassing herself. Grebler, whose specialty is encouraging people who have never painted to try it, calmed her concerns. “I love what everyone does” in these classes, she said reassuringly, adding that Monet’s paintings often inspire non-painters to pick up a brush and try.
After the two-hour class ended, the ship lounge was filled with the artwork of 40 people who had tried. Most of them were happy they had done so. All 40 of them had a piece of original art.
As for the dentist’s art, the next time we saw it, the piece had been hung in the corridor outside his stateroom, replacing an Impressionist print that was now on the floor, leaning against the wall.
Twenty minutes later, it had been placed on a housekeeper’s cart in the corridor, apparently heading for the trash.
But on our way back to our stateroom tonight, we noticed the painting was up on the wall again. The AMALegro’s Impressionist print was nowhere in sight.