May 15, 2017

     When I completed my master’s degree in British and American literature (which culminated in a six-hour written exam), my brain was a toasted English muffin, its nooks and crannies saturated with melted words like a Salvador Dali painting. For the first time in my life the thought of reading made me want to lie down in a dark room or—the horror—watch daytime television. Clearly a remedy was in order. And it came in the form of a drawing class.

     I’d never exercised the part of my brain that translated an image onto paper via a pencil. I felt like a toddler learning to walk—totter forward eagerly, stumble, fall, heave myself up, totter again (with varying degrees of enthusiasm). After about two months, I’d advanced to a reasonable level of dexterity, emboldening me to progress to oil painting. And that’s when the fun really started.

     Oil paints are a merciful media. As Bob Ross used to say, “There are no mistak...

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