You can’t get it wrong

Published 7:36 pm Thursday, January 28, 2010

When I was a student artist back in college, I had an assignment in my first painting class. The assignment was simple enough — paint a picture of the pineapple sitting on the table.

Sadly and so very reluctantly, I sat and painted that flinging-flanging pineapple. By the end of the painting session — not just by the end of the class, mind you — I had used my greens, yellows and browns in such a brilliant combination that I did, in fact, paint a portrait of something that looked very much like a pineapple … And I hated it.

On presentation day, all the pineapples that had been painted by the class were all lined up, side by side, at one end of the studio area. Among these technically sound and basically beautiful paintings of pineapples, there was one that stood out from the rest of the crowd.

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Unlike the other students in the class, I, being the rebellious type, had chosen to paint over the pineapple and submit a painting of the nude woman, shown from the rear and from the nape of her neck right down to just above her buttocks.

It wasn’t provocative by any means, just terribly out of sorts among the rest of the paintings, and certainly not what was assigned.

When it came to be my turn to present, I was asked by the painting instructor, “Where’s the pineapple you were supposed to paint?” I replied, using my quick wit, “She’s standing in front of it, obviously. It’s on the other side of her.”

After seeing the strange look on my instructor’s face and fully expecting to get an “F” on my project, I began approaching the paintings to take my piece down and exit the studio. But as I was doing so, I heard this big hearty laugh behind me, coming from my painting instructor. “Don’t you dare take it down! It’s the best painting of a pineapple that I’ve never seen,” my instructor making a joke of his own in his comment. I got an “A+” on the project.

That was the day I fell in love with art.

So when I saw the pictures of the student art work that will be on display Feb. 2 for the Exhibit of Excellence: Suffolk Student Art show, I was more than a little impressed by the creativity. Moreover, the wide range of talent and diversity of ideas has reignited that need to put paintbrush to canvas and create something.

I can’t wait to get a look at the entire show when it opens. And I encourage everyone in Suffolk to come take a look at the work of these talented young artists. Your support may just encourage the next great juggernaut of the art world.

My advice to all you young artists in the show at the Suffolk Museum is to take this one lesson from my little story: Unlike math, science, history, or any other subject you’ll encounter in your academic careers, art is the one glorious subject where there is no wrong answer, as long as you bring something of yourself to the work.

Congratulations, artists. Keep on creating.