The Painting Lesson

The Painting Lesson


Geoff is teaching the participants in the creative retreat how to paint a cone flower. He plucked several on the way to the workshop and placed a couple in a cup of water so we could study them in close up. Mine are on the table just to my left hand. The golf cart outside is the main means of transport when it is time to move me from place to place. It’s so much easier to sit in comfort rather than to pick my way carefully over slightly uneven grass. Geoff has shown me how to paint the background to my flower. Alas, my background is nothing like his background. I often wonder if this is because I went to school in England, while he went to school in Canada. Certainly our backgrounds are very different. Geoff took the Golf Cart keys from Mad Max. Hence the drive over to Studio #1, where I wrote for a month in June 2017 was very smooth. Mad Max is very kind and gentle. Until he gets behind the wheel of a golf cart. Then he earns his nick-name: Mad Max. My plastic chair is about to collapse and land me on the floor. But I don’t yet know that. It will happen about three minutes after this photo was taken, but the camera had gone by then. Fortunately. Or the next picture would show my rear end raised into the air in all its glory with my little legs kicking.



This next photo shows my painting with my lovely cone flower painted in. My cone flower does not resemble Geoff’s cone flower, nor does it look like the real thing that sits on the desk in front of me. I hope you can see my  cone flower in the painting, but if you can’t, don’t worry. My best advice is search for something that doesn’t look like a cone flower and you will find mine. We are not sure what happens when I paint. Whereas all the obedient students have only one large realistic flower in their painting, my painting sprouts flowers as if by magic. They just appear, like dandelions. They are everywhere and in all colors. It’s quite the bouquet, really, though that is not what it was meant to be. It was meant to be a cone flower. Geoff says I have a unique and powerful style of my own. I think this is instructor-speak for “Roger, you can’t paint for love or money and, as a painter, you are as dumb and stubborn and inflexible as a knot in a lump of wood, but shucks, I’m not a negative person, so I’ll call your messy message unique.” Thanks, Geoff. It’s nice to be unique. Much better than being an abject failure. When Clare saw my painting, she thought my eye-sight was going, so she made an appointment for me to see the optician, or whatever he’s called, next week. Or the week after. I couldn’t make out the date. Her hand-writing is so blurred. Maybe her hand-writing is unique, too. Either that or she also needs an eye-appointment.


This is the final product. Geoff says it is very strong and demonstrates the strength of my personality. I think it looks like a cross between a Tangled Garden, a nightmare bristling on the facade of one of Monet’s Cathedrals, a Van Gogh flowery sky, and a walk in the park with Picasso when he was trying to relearn how to paint as a very young child would paint. The other participants say they like the energy of my brush strokes. Brush strokes, a lovely idea. I hold the brush like a carving knife and, pretending the canvas is a lump of recalcitrant cheddar cheese or a fierce Shropshire Blue, I attack it with my bristle sword, hacking it into colorful lumps that can be whatever the viewer thinks they might be. Speaking of cheese, this painting is the sort of dream that comes in the night to haunt me when I have eaten too much cheese. The slashing of the nightmare with the paintbrush sword brings a moment of release and a wonderful feeling of relief and relaxation when canvas and cheese are cheerfully hacked and the contents of their souls released into a heaven-haven of paint. Ah soul: I think you can see one or two souls flitting through my tangled garden. I’ll tell you a secret, though: I don’t know how they got there. I thought I was painting butterflies at the time.







12 thoughts on “The Painting Lesson

    • Hi Meg: I was hoping you would comment. We had a wonderful time at the retreat and I did two paintings and a lesson on exploring the color palette, starting with RYB and generating about thirty colors. It was wonderful. We really linked the outside visual world to the internal created world via meditation, mysticism, automatic writing, surrealism and matters of choice. You would love it. Start saving! I’ll write you an e-mail too. Best wishes. Roger.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s wonderful! Some of the first tutorials I explored on YouTube were about making your own color wheel so that you can create colors from just the primary and secondary colors, which ones are opposite and which ones are complementary. It’s a fundamental lesson that helps with everything you attempt after that! I’m sure I would have loved this! I’ll save up for next year! 😃


  1. It is a dynamic painting and I quite like your coneflower. I enjoyed reading about the painting process…if I could dream colours and flowers from eating cheese at night, it would become a ritual….. I hope your derrière is not bruised from your fall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Janice: there were a couple of bruises. The chair sort of sank like a lazy buffalo, so it wasn’t too abrupt. I think I was still painting when I hit the deck! Quite funny, really. I still don’t know how it happened. Soon changed the chairs though, so it won’t happen again. I do love the ‘whirl of energy’ and I guess, for me, that the energy is as important as anything. Hey, Janice: go carve that cheese!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Fran. I guess it’s he difference between painting what the eye sees (painting as photography) and what the mind feels (painting as surrealism). The literal transformation of reality had always been beyond me, but I love the re-creation of reality according to internal impulses. Glad you like it. Actually, it’s growing on me, too, now that I am getting used to it not being what it’s meant to be!


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