A picture pear-fect evening

Posted Mar 20th, 2011

A picture pear-fect evening

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It was likely the strangest Christmas gift on my wish list nine years ago.

But there was only person I knew who could build me an easel to support my creative endeavours when I had a flash of insight that needed to be expressed in a few strokes of a paint brush.

It was my dad and I remember his surprised response when I told him I wanted an easel for Christmas and could he please build me one?

He obliged and being German, my dad not only built me an easel, but one that is most likely an engineering feat. Perfect. Sturdy. Practical because it folds up easily for storage and assembles just as easily for those very rare moments I liken myself an artiste and feel the urge to paint.

It's been years since I've felt that urge. And for the record, I should say that when I have felt that push to pick up a paint brush, nothing has ever quite turned out how I envisioned. I can't draw. So other than a few squiggles to make "abstract art" — a more polite label for the products of this talentless hack — I've never really painted anything that I think is a keeper.

Still, it hasn't kept me from trying.

I tried again on Friday night when I went to Eat. Drink. Paint. at The Good Earth. I fell in love with this place last fall when I joined a group of people for lunch next to the outdoor pizza oven, where I marvelled at the scenery and the meal. It's a fabulous spot in Beamsville that serves as the perfect muse for foodies, wine lovers and on this night, a handful of aspiring artists. There have been a few of these sip, snack and create sessions already this winter with more in the works for May.

Nestled within tender fruit orchards and grapevines, The Good Earth is a pastoral paradise. An unpretentious gem of a place. A spot where I felt safe to reveal to more than just my cats that I can't paint worth a darn but I'll sure enjoy trying.

Artist Kim Rempel gives some pointers to aspiring artist Betty Novak. 

The class was led by Kim Rempel, whose blog is a journal of daily paintings that she creates. As someone without much, if any, artistic ability (I draw a mean stick figure), I felt lucky to have her leading the class. She kept things simple — our subjects were fruit, flowers or any image in our mind's eye — and her instructions and advice were given in a way that encouraged. She was very positive, which a thin-skinned wannabe painter like me needs. She was good with the eclectic bunch of creative types who showed up Friday and our varying degrees of ability.

The creation of one of my fellow eaters, drinkers and painters, Ray. We painted with oils.

Despite my nervousness about painting in public, I can't remember the last time I've enjoyed myself as much. Good Earth matriarch Betty Novak, mom to Good Earth proprietor Nicolette, kept us all charmed with an incomparable joie de vivre and some captivating stories about her life in Europe before coming to Canada. She also painted an amazing canvas of apples that had an impressionist air.

So, with a glass of The Good Earth's delicious Riesling serving as my creative juices and a curvaceous pear as my model, I painted what might actually be my best work yet. It actually resembles what it is I set out to paint. Yup, my pear looks like a pear. Complete fluke, but I'll take it.

A painting of spilled wine by Henry, one of the other eaters, drinkers and painters at The Good Earth.

Has me thinking I should change this blog to be Eating and Painting Niagara....

Mind you, it's too bad I couldn't quite nail the shadows. So my pear kind of looks like it has bottom end rot or some other ailment.

On second thought, better to keep reaching for my fork more often than my paint brush.

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