Monday, July 4, 2011

Spring Painting Lessons.

It's strange how some things just come to memory randomly and completely out of the blue.
One summer I was taking a class at an artist studio, located at his country house not far from Moscow. It was a couple of boys and me and we had to take the train to get there. Each time we'd bring our sandwiches and something sweet to eat while drinking tea. We'd all meet up on the train station, take the train, hop on another one and finally arrive on a small countryside station that had a path leading to the village. The walk was not more than ten minutes, but it always seemed like an adventure. Maybe a part of that had to do with the fact that I was 16 and the boys were older, so it always felt special. We'd walk the quiet street, talk and finally arrive at the house. It was old and rickety, and had a special smell only very old houses have. There the artist would meet us and we'd all have tea together. It was spring outside and the peonies just start blossoming, the weather was soft and warm and you could hear distant sounds of neighbors, but mostly just birds and quiet. I realized that I've only "heard" that silence twice in my life: when I was little vacationing at a small country house with my parents and that year at the painting studio. You don't get that in many places, especially not in a big city.

After drinking tea that became almost like a ceremony, we'd all start painting. The house and its surroundings had an abundance of still life objects. There were all kinds of vases, dried flowers, fake (and real) fruit, statuettes, etc. We'd sit down on the old stools, put on aprons already dirty on the front from someone else's work and paint. We'd sit there for hours, occasionally interrupted by our instructor's critique or a friendly chatter. I honestly don't remember what I was thinking about during those quiet hours, but those were probably the quickest hours I spent working up to this day.

We'd have tea breaks and a long lunch, spent talking and laughing. In the evening, around 6 or 7, we'd pack our things and go back. I remember those walks like they happened yesterday. A soft, unpaved country road, familiar houses, private horse stables and the rays of the setting sun. There was this rare, almost tangible feeling in the air that was completely overwhelming. I think it was a feeling of being very young, carefree and happy. I know it sounds cliche, especially because I'm not old enough to be reminiscing about youth, but I don't think the essence of those walks can ever be achieved again. Even if the same people were put in the same geographic location at the same time today, we'd all feel and act different. We've all changed, grown up and had completely different experiences. That spring, however, and those painting lessons are the one point in time where our lives met each other and "walked" together for a moment. That point is when we all felt the same way and a point that we won't ever be able to get back to.

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