Art Class in Albury

Wednesday mornings I go to a painting class in the nearby village of Albury. Our teacher’s name is Hashi Jila and he lives off Rectory Lane just down the road. I’m not feeling much like a painter, today. Well, yes, a painter, but rather of walls than canvas. The thing is, this man is really teaching us to paint, and not just to mess around, and that means re-thinking methods and outlook. Hashi says he can teach us to paint what we see, but he can’t turn us into artists. That is up to us. As of now, I not only don’t feel like an artist, but a klutz as well.

One of the 8 or so women in the group is an experienced water color artist who is learning oil painting. Whatever she does turns out beautifully, despite this being a new technique to her. Another teaches pottery and ceramics and is expanding to oils, and she is also pretty good. Most of the others are learning water color; another is doing pastels. Rosie, at 83, is taking up water color painting.

Hashi spends time with each of us, with a stroke of his brush turning our efforts into good pictures. It is inspiring, if humbling, to see how little it takes to make it come to life, but how important that little bit is. And it’s all about the way you observe, he says.

If we don’t become great artists, it is a bonding experience, this common effort, and our gang of four have decided that lunch at Wooten Hatch ought to become a regular feature. So after the class we brave snowy roads to this upscale pub a few miles away to catch up on each other’s lives, have a glass of white wine and enjoy very nice food at pub prices.

Tiny Rosie has a starter meal composed of a slice of frittata, smoked salmon, and a little salad, all beautifully presented on a pristine white plate. Pat and Anne choose a chorizo pizza with jalapenos, thin-crusted, brightly red and green. I have ordered seared scallops and black pudding on mashed sweet potatoes, drizzled with black balsamic vinegar. It, too, is beautifully presented on a white plate, delicately flavored with a hint of garlic and butter. But this is a starter dish, and there are only THREE of them, so Pat shares a slice of her pizza and I leave feeling well, and not overly, fed.

But my soul is replete with the companionship and common humanity of friends.l