Good morning! Here is Chapter 3 of Renewing Hope! May the Lord fill you with peace today and may you know, you don’t have to strive.
A few days later, I stood before a classroom door at Lincoln Community college. I took a deep breath and knocked on the classroom door. I checked my phone screen. 1:00PM. Clenching and releasing my fists, I forced myself to exhale and find calmness. Trying out a summer art class was going to be fun and challenging. I can do this. Stephen’s sister is teaching the class. She should be nice, right?
Was this such a good idea? Before I could turn and run, the door opened. The scent of roses tickled my nose. Is that her perfume?
A younger version of Mary Crane smiled at me from the doorway. Shiny red hair cascaded down her shoulders, flowing like a waterfall. Warm brown eyes met mine, brightening at my appearance. She’s definitely related to Stephen.
“Hello, you must be, Hope! Stephen told me we might have a visitor today.” She shook my hand with a sturdy grip.
“Yes, I’m Hope Atwood.”
She smiled with warmth, “My name is Pearl Morris, you can call me Pearl.”
“That’s a pretty name.”
She winked. “My parents thought so too. Anyway, come on in. You’re right on time.” She guided me into the classroom.
Bunches of roses filled the room. On every table, windowsill, and bookshelf, there was a vase, bucket, or basket of roses. Each one was unique with different color combinations.
“So much beauty.”
“I know, isn’t it breathtaking?” Pearl uttered. “Roses are gorgeous.”
Had I said that aloud? Oops. “Yes, they are. They’re my favorite.”
Pearl’s smile sparkled. “Your timing is perfect then, we’re drawing roses today!”
We. Right. I’m not the only student attending art class. My gaze fully encompassed the room.
Students sat on stools arranged in a semicircle in the middle of the room, easels and canvases standing in front of them.
One girl looked up and smirked. Her brown eyes stared at me with disdain, and I looked away. Weird!
“Come on, Hope.” Pearl showed me across the room and handed me an art canvas and a folded easel.“You can sit next to Katie. She’s the one at the end, on the left.”
I glanced at the girl Katie, and she smiled at me. At least someone is friendly.
“Thank, you. Was I supposed to bring my own art supplies?” I bit my lip.
“Some students prefer to bring their own supplies, but we have plenty here in the classroom. You’re welcome to use them.” Pearl went to the wall behind her desk where there were floor to ceiling cabinets. She started to open doors and pull materials off shelves. Pearl handed me a package of colored pencils. “Do you want to use Bristol paper or Stonehenge?”
“I’ll go with the Stonehenge.”
She smiled. “That’s what I always recommend.” She opened another cabinet and handed me a large, 10 X 30 sheet of the thick paper.
“You’re welcome. So, if you’ll go and take a seat, we’ll begin class.”
I walked over to my seat, by Katie. She gave me a welcoming smile. I set up my easel and attached my paper to the board, fixing my attention on the front of the classroom.
Pearl walked to the whiteboard up front. “Okay, everyone. I hope you’ve all had a fantastic week. We’re going to dive right in. We have a new student as you may have noticed.” Pearl beckoned for me to stand up. “I expect you’ll make her feel welcome.”
She wants me to stand up? I came to my feet, knocking over my easel and canvas. Mocking laughter met my ears, and color climbed up my neck. I gave an awkward wave, and sat back down. How embarrassing! Picking up my easel and canvas, I set them upright.
Pearl cleared her throat and shot some of the students a pointed look. “Today, we’re going to be drawing roses. It will be a simple project, but fun! I’m not going to display an example, but I want to see how you do.
Now what you have to keep in mind is the proportion of your subject.” Pearl faced us and picked up a pencil from her desk. “If something is too big or too small it can mess up the whole picture. When the proportion is off, your picture is off. Ok? Also, when you draw something, you have to pay attention to the colors. Normally the sky or even a person’s face, is not all one color or one shade. For example, an impressionist named Gwen John, did a study on Marigolds in 1918. In Gwen’s picture, all her flowers are very colorful and vibrant. Even her flowers that are the same color, each have a different shade. None of her flowers are the same; they are all unique. This is something you want to pay close attention to. And your lighting. Make it detailed! Draw shadows or a reflection or just a ray of sunlight setting something all aglow!
These are the things I want you guys to keep in mind as you draw.” She smiled at us. “You may begin! I’m excited to see what you come up with.” Pearl sat down behind her desk.
I retrieved a red pencil. An insistent ringing filled the room.
“Oh, excuse me.” Pearl snatched up her phone from the desk. She stared at it. “I’m sorry, I have to go answer an important phone call; are you guys okay?”
A few students nodded.
“Thanks. I shouldn’t be too long.” Pearl went out the door, closing it behind her.
“Ha, this should be easy,” said the grouchy girl, “but I’m glad she is out of the room; her smile is annoying.” She stood up and stretched.
One of the boys snorted, “You got that right.”
My eyes widened. These kids are disrespectful.
“Hey, I’m Katie Parker.”
My head came up, and Katie’s blue eyes met mine.
“My name’s Hope Atwood.”
Katie shook my hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Hope.” Her voice lowered, “And don’t pay any attention to Carol and Kevin. They are rude. Most of us try to just ignore them when they’re like that. You’ll get used to it.”
I attempted a smile, “Oh, thanks.”
I turned back towards my drawing. Katie was sweet and upfront- I liked her already.
Carol moaned, “This is so boring. But I suppose I have to do it since my Mom wanted me to take a summer art class. Although, I don’t see the point,” she grumbled.
Attempting to ignore Carol’s words, I started sketching a bucket to hold the roses.
“Hey, how is everyone doing?”
What? I looked up from my paper. Pearl entered the room, closing the door behind her. It seemed like only a few seconds had passed by.
“I’m sorry that I took so long. I was delayed.” For an instant, amusement flashed across Pearl’s face. My husband needed some assistance.”
“No worries. We’ve just been working on your projects,” Katie insisted.
Pearl smiled. “Okay, good. Do you guys mind if I look at what you have done so far?”
“No, course not,” Carol yawned.
A few heads gave a nod.
Goosebumps traveled up my arms. “You- you want to see our work?” I hadn’t shown anyone my drawings since my parents divorce. A lump formed in my throat. I tugged at my hair.
Pearl laughed. “Of course, I’m the art teacher after all! Can I see?”
“You can- but-but- it’ll take some getting used to. I don’t usually show anyone my art work. Ever.”
Pearl’s smile vanished, like she sensed my fear. “You don’t have to show us your work, Hope. Only if you’re comfortable.”
I metally shook off my worry, trying to act pleasant. “No, you guys can come and look.” Scooting back, I gave them room to study my drawing.
All of them crowded behind my easel, Carol being the last one to peer over, like she couldn’t care less.
The three seconds of silence felt like hours. I squirmed. Someone please say something!
“It is a very nice picture, Hope.” Pearl tipped her head to the side. “But you made the roses way out of proportion. They are too big, and there aren’t enough shades of red. Red roses aren’t just one shade, they can be many. Remember what I said about color?”
I studied the picture. “I see what you mean; I’m lacking variety.”
There was a loud cough.
Pearl turned to Carol, “Were you going to say something, Miss Beachy?”
Carol’s eyes enlarged innocently, “No, ma’am. I just had something stuck in my throat.”
Pearl’s eyes narrowed. She turned back to me. “Yes, you need more variety. Your lighting, however, is superb! Well done. I love the contrast between light and dark. And it is beautiful, how you can see the twinkly lights reflected off the roses! Great job.” She gave me a smile.
“Whose picture should we look at next?”
“We can look at mine, Mrs. Morris,” Kevin volunteered.
Everyone started to move to where he had been sitting.
Although Pearl had approved of my drawing, all I could think about was her critiques. How could I have messed up so much?
I looked down at Katie next to me. She was a few inches shorter than I.
Her eyes were full of understanding. “This is all normal stuff, so don’t be hard on yourself. She critiques our work and it isn’t even uncommon for us to take something home and rework it.”
I stared at her. Apparently Katie was not only nice, but could read thoughts too.
She chuckled. “Your facial expressions told the whole story.”
My mouth turned down at the corners. “Am I that obvious?”
“No, but I know how I felt when I first came to this class. I got really depressed. I focused on criticism way too much.”
“How did you get over it?”
“The second week of class, Pearl explained that critique isn’t bad and that it makes us better artists. Also, someone is always going to critique us in life. We shouldn’t get offended, but see it as an opportunity to improve.”
“Yeah, very true. I just didn’t expect I would get two things wrong. However, I’ve never been to an actual art class before and certainly haven’t shown my work to a professional.”
She gave me a sympathetic nod, and I followed behind her to look at Kevin’s picture.
His drawing was simple, but he was praised for following all the technical guidelines.
I fought to keep myself from crying in front of everyone. Failure consumed me, and I saw no way no way out.
You aren’t good enough, Hope, and never will be. You will never be a real artist.
I pushed the front door open, with my drawing and a bucket of roses in my hand. I dropped my keys on the wooden table by the front door and headed to the kitchen.
I need to work harder. I must get this right.
Yes, I had obsessed over my art project the whole drive home. Brushing a wisp of hair out of my face, I shuffled into the kitchen, eyes on the ground. I’ll get something to eat then make a whole new picture.
“How was the art class, honey?”
“Ah!” My head bolted upright, and I noticed Mom sitting at the kitchen table. Papers were strewn in front of her. A pair of reading glasses sat on the bridge of her nose.
“You could have given me some kind of warning! I didn’t know you were sitting right there!”
Mom’s brow furrowed. “Sorry. I thought you saw me.”
“Well, I didn’t.” I plopped down onto a kitchen chair and stared at my drawing. All its faults hit me in the face. Improvement seemed impossible.
Mom sat down beside me. “What’s wrong? Did you have a bad day?”
I exhaled and rubbed my forehead, “Not exactly. It was fine…at first. But then it turned depressing when I went to my art class.”
“I’m sorry. What happened?”
“The teacher, Pearl Morris, was pleasant, and the students were welcoming.” At least most of them.
“But?” Mom prompted.
“Well, we drew roses.” I turned to look at her. “I didn’t know it would be so hard. I tried and failed. Pearl said the proportion was off Pearl and there was not enough shades of color. I expected to do better.” I let out a breath and studied the drawing. “I have always drawn more fairytale-like pictures, and changing my technique just seems so difficult.”
Mom patted my hand. “Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you won’t have to work at it. You can’t expect everything to come easily.”
I let out a sigh, “You’re right,” I gave a soft smile. “Thanks, Mom. I needed that.”
Mom hugged me. “What are Moms for? And by the way I think that your picture is very pretty! Even though it’s not exactly how the teacher wanted it. I think it is a piece of art. I like the detail you put into the flowers and the bucket they are standing in.” She traced a rose with her finger. “Do you mind if I keep this one? I think the last drawing you made for me was when you were seven. I didn’t realize that you still liked to draw until the Crane’s came over.”
My gaze dropped to the ground, attempting to ignore the vulnerability in her eyes. I couldn’t bear to see it. There are a lot of things you don’t know, Mom. I wish I could tell you.
“Yeah, you can have that one. I don’t need it anymore.” I released her hand. “I’m still going to work on another picture. Get some practice. Call me when dinner’s ready.” Hurrying away, I headed upstairs with the bucket of roses.
Mom looks worn out and tired. I can’t keep hiding my feelings from her. I ought to let go of this bitterness. But how? I don’t speak to God about my hurt. So, how can I talk to Mom?” I entered my bedroom. There is no use. God won’t listen, and Mom is just Mom. She won’t understand. She wouldn’t understand all the pain I have.
My hands groped for my sketchpad and tore out a piece of paper. Any distraction from my thoughts was welcome.
Proportion, and color. The fiery orange roses glowed. I had to draw them exactly how they looked, not how I imagined them.
Stay safe, friends. And please feel free to share your thoughts!