Yes, you can!

Published 11:32 pm Friday, November 20, 2009

Stephanie Nelson and Michele Gerlach, both of The Star-News staff, participated in Tara Dalton’s folk art painting class at the LAAC on Wednesday night.

Neither had ever been to an art class before; both comfortably completed a painting in less than two hours. Their “take” on the art class follows.

I am an unapologetic folk art fan.

When most people dismiss the style by saying, “I could do that,” I have to work hard not to reply, “Perhaps. But you don’t.”

That other people look at folk art and believe they, too, could be an artist, is probably part of what makes it appealing to me. So when Tara Dalton announced she was having a Woodie-Long-inspired folk art painting class, I decided to try, as did 23 other people.

With Dalton instructing us element by element, the blank canvases were soon full of color. Like grade school children copying from their neighbors’ papers, we were constantly casting furtive glances at other canvases, attempting to copy the good ones.

Dalton proved that we all can be folk artists. With instruction, we can paint.

But I for one am under no illusions that I could do this without the guided tour. Instead, I would likely stare at a blank canvas for hours.

Michele Gerlach

With my eyes shifting back and forth from the blank canvas to the completed creation on display, I harbored no illusions that I was about to create a great masterpiece during Friday’s “One Night Stand” class taught by Tara Dalton.

The night’s theme – a Woodie Long-style creation.

I had always been a “somewhat” fan of Long – I love his pieces depicting children at play and such. Some of his other stuff – especially his primitive pieces – really aren’t my cup of tea – but hey, as my granny used to say, “To each his own.”

Which is exactly my purpose in taking the class. And even though its subject of was supposed to be “My five sons,” I took the brush and produced my own “My three daughters” creation, because like I told those other 23 people there Friday night, “I don’t know nothin’ about no boys.”

However, as soon as my balloons took on the shape of fishy blobs, I started casting secretive glances to my surrounding artistic companions – who were doing a much better job, in my opinion, of what I had going on in front of me.

But as the evening progressed, I noticed that so did my work.

Pretty soon, the white blankness was transformed into blue skies, green grass, yellow sunshine and three little girls with big red balloons…not to mention the strange looking things that I said were flowers.

I left the class feeling as warm as the yellow of my sunshine, knowing that I had created something out of nothing.

Stephanie Nelson

Dalton has not yet announced specifics for December’s class but has said it will be held on a Wednesday and feature a different technique than featured in this class. For more information on Dalton’s upcoming class or any of the many other classes featured at the Lower Alabama Arts Coalition, call 334-222-3205.