I thought I would like to paint ...

 ... it took Bernadette a lifetime to get there ...

by Bernadette Mahoney

When it came time for me to retire, I started thinking about the things I always wanted to do - travel, take up oil painting, perhaps finish college. The one thing that kept coming back to my mind was oil painting. Ever since I had admired a mural the senior class was painting in my high school art class, I thought I would like to paint. I even thought of becoming an artist, but I wasn't interested in being a starving artist so I put it out of mind.

Maybe now would be the time to take a course in oil painting. I decided to ask Robert DiGiovanni, who was a profesor of art at Bunker Hill Community College, if he thought I would get anything out of his painting class. He said definitely. I signed up for his History of Art and Painting courses.

We studied the basics, did a still life or two, and did a portrait of a model. I was hooked! One home assignment was to paint a picture from a photograph we had taken. I chose a picture I had taken of South Portland Light. I did okay after Robert showed me how to turn a troublesome cliff into boulders.

A young man from Robert's photography class was our next model. I glided through this one (with Robert's help, of course) as though I'd been doing portraits for years. I think it was because the model was sitting right in front of me. However, I was pretty excited when Robert told me that the picture showed talent.
A basket of artificial flowers was a project I enjoyed. It was painted on a board with a palette knife and it turned out to be my best still life.

Two of my paintings were in the exhibit that first year - the portrait of the young man and the basket of flowers. No prizes, but I thought it was great that they were even selected.

When Robert was looking for a model my second year, one of my girl friends had just retired from teaching. I asked her to pose and she accepted. She had a great time and was a wonderful model. And the portrait of her won second prize in the exhibit that year.

The last picture that Robert helped me with was my great grandnephew Michael. His red hair was quite a challenge.

Portraits are difficult. There are few teachers and few models to practice on but, fortunately, I have a large extended family.

November 2, 2001

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