Painting With Sue

Lisa gets me into more shi..,stuff.  Now it’s painting.  In her defense I have dabbled in art and painting for years but never had a lesson.  The story of how she got me involved with a local artist here in Cambridge is a typical example of the unusual discoveries she manages to dig up everywhere we have lived.

While visiting the “Hopalong Cassidy Museum” one Saturday a couple of weeks ago, Lisa felt nature call and asked the proprietor about restrooms.  She was gone for quite a while and I started to think maybe something was wrong.  As it turned out she was directed to a downstairs area of the building to use the restroom and discovered what looked like an art studio.  Upon her return to the main floor of the museum she informed me that I had been signed up for an art class.  “Let me get this straight.  You go to the bathroom and when you come back – I am in an art class?”  She explained that upon looking around at the basement art studio she deduced that art classes were held in the room and confirmed that with the museum curator.  He explained that local artist, Sue Dodd, held classes there twice a week and gave her Sue’s phone number.  Lisa called and signed me up and that was that.

I met Sue at her studio for my first lesson last week and I have to confess – we had a blast.  Sue Dodd is a self-taught artist who specializes in acrylics.  At seventy-four years of age, she displays a wonderful love of people along with marvelous artistic skill that looks as good as ever.  She showed me some of her work and I was very impressed.  Several murals on the side of buildings here in Cambridge proudly display her skill as a muralist and her studio walls are lined with examples of her art.  To learn she is self-taught made what I was seeing even more impressive. As it turned out, I was her only student that day and the one on one attention she gave me was very helpful – especially for my first lesson.

She had a scribbled drawing of what we would be painting and I had to confess – I had no idea what I was looking at.  She said it was a scene from an apple grove.  Okay – whatever you say, Sue.  I was seated in front of a canvas board that had been primed and ready for painting.  She poured paint of various colors on some paper plates in front of me and my first lesson was underway.

After chalking off our center line (or focal point) she showed me how to dab various colors on my brush and then I watched her use sweeping strokes to create the background sky.  Her skill was evident from the first sweep of her brush and I never could quite match her colors or brush skills.  Her trees angled up into the misty sky she had created and she guided my hand to do the same.  At times she would suggest I rotate my canvas on the easel to get a better angle or to create an effect that only a skilled artist would understand.  We created shadows and light, apples and ladders and bushes and grass and fog.  We listened to old music she had playing on her radio and at one point we sang “Red Roses for a Blue Lady”.  She made me laugh and I made her laugh and we just had fun.  By the end of the two hours I had a completed painting.  Not bad.

I’m not sure I will ever be as good an artist as Sue Dodd – probably not.  But I am glad to have made that connection.  I hope Sue and I get to spend more time painting together before our time here in eastern Ohio is through.

And just think.  If Lisa had not gone to the bathroom – Sue and I may have never met.

Frame it!  Steve and Lisa



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