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Lago de Atitlán - Photo by Juan Galich

ISPs on Thursday, June 17th….

This day’s experience: Painting. Although visual art seems like a simple thing, I have to say, I have always been intimidated by it because “I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler” and my hand writing is best when it is written in ALL CAPS. Nevertheless, my life is not without art since I have spent a large part my of life involved in the performing arts of dancing, singing, and acting.

But back to the topic at hand: Painting. Today I took a painting class with Dominic and Kiera W. We were asked to take the perspective of 13 birds that represent displaced indigenous elders looking down from the sky at earth. We were instructed to draw the tops of the shoulders of a person in the shape of a banana or oval and then to add a circular head to the middle of that oval. We were then shown how to the follow the shoulders down to the arm using more oval-like shapes and to the end with the hands. This seems simple enough, right? Pero, No! Muy difícil.

Nevertheless, we all pushed aside our apprehensions and hesitations and dove in to the task. We used oil paints on a canvas. We mixed colors and created new hues not available to us. Some of us went literal and some us (me) went abstract. But we all got lost in the process of creating. So lost that none of us took a break when food was offered and all you could hear at one point in the room was the classical Spanish music coming in from the slightly ajar window.

Just as we were finishing up our canvas paintings, the group of students who had painted murals on nearby Guatemalan walls came rushing in to the studio. Of course we had to go to see their murals. The murals they had painted were three very distinct and different pieces of art that allowed Nicholas, Emma, and Grace to share a part of their creative selves with the people of San Juan La Laguna. We were all very proud of our work.

Who knew painting could be so challenging and yet calming? Many, I’m sure. But for me it was a fresh entrance, perhaps, into a new field of the arts. And to be honest, I am quite impressed by my first painting. Guatemala continues to be place that provides more enlightenment and enrichment to all who are open to it. I’m grateful for this experience.