An Art Class in Germany

by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

As a pre-Christmas excursion, I took an eight day trip to Germany in the beginning of December to visit my husband’s cousin and an aunt that we hadn’t seen in several years. December is a beautiful time to visit there because of all the gorgeous Christmas markets that are held in every town and village throughout the country for the whole month. Many other European countries also have similar Christmas markets and are truly both a tourist attraction and lovely places for residents to visit and shop.  I was accompanied by my good friend, Dorothy that had never been to Germany before and at my raving about visiting these markets decided to accept my invitation to join me. Both cousin Ilse and Aunt Inge warmly welcomed us and were happy about our visit to each of their homes to celebrate the coming holiday with them.

A few days after our arrival cousin Ilse told Dorothy and me over Sunday breakfast that she had a surprise for us that afternoon. She had arranged for us to participate with her and Inge at an art class under the guidance of an art teacher, Anna Vikulova, that Ilse takes lessons with. Dorothy and I must have had the same expression on our faces when we heard about Ilse’s plans. Neither of us are artists and we thought this would be in a class filled with experts and talented art students, so at first were not keen on the idea. When Ilse saw our less than enthusiastic expressions she quickly said, “You will like this class and it is a private lesson with just the four of us.”  The art teacher, Anna, will hold the class at MALSTUDIO, where she conducts both adult and children’s lessons on various days.  Anna would be opening the studio that afternoon just for us four and will give us an art lesson. This made Dorothy and me feel a bit better at the idea and thought it might be something different to try. In the back of my mind I kept thinking about an expression my daughter Karen tells me and my husband when we are hesitant about trying something unfamiliar whether it is a new food or experience. I could almost hear Karen saying “Mom, step out of the box” and go for it!” and we did.

The class

Ilse, Inge, Dorothy and I arrived at the art studio and were greeted warmly by Anna who had arrived earlier to set up the studio for our class. She had on a pot of herbal tea and seasonal gingerbread cookies ready for us as we came in from the chilly outdoors. To prevent paint from getting on our clothing we each put on an extra large tee shirt smock that Anna supplied.  While sitting around the large studio table, Anna showed us several choices to pick from of pictures we wanted to copy. The selection was unanimous and we chose a multi-colored floral arrangement, which looked easier to us than the other choices.  Then we sat around the art table, brush in hand as we waited for Anna to give each of us dabs of paint, in an array of colors, on a tile tablet next to us. Then the magic began!  Starting slowly, Anna showed us how to paint the background, blending the colors to a muted tone. Next we started on the vase, which was the focal point of the painting. One by one we followed each step as she showed us methods to have the flowers cascading out of the vase, some behind each other and some draping over the side of the vase.   We changed brushes when different thicknesses or a thinner one was needed for the next step. Long stems of green were inserted with a wisp of a stroke making it appear as if the stems were holding the flowers in place. Through the two hour session Anna guided us, walked around the room making helpful suggestions and returned to her painting for us to emulate her strokes. We had so much fun expressing our frustration when the paint was too heavy on the brush, or a flower didn’t cooperate in coming out the way we expected. It was a relaxing, stimulating and entertaining afternoon for all of us and so unexpected! No one was shy about the way her painting was coming out and gone was the feeling that we were not qualified for this new skill we were learning. Of course, with an experienced instructor like Anna that made the lesson interesting, fun and easy to follow made all the difference in the world!  When the class was over we lined the paintings up together and began critiquing our own art results as if we were certified art critics!  This wonderful surprise that Ilse had arranged for us with her friend Anna was indeed a most delightful afternoon that we all were glad to have had. It certainly proves that at first when you hear about something new; don’t hesitate to give it a try. Step out of the box is a good motto to follow for learning something new and having a different experience!  See what new things you can come up with for 2019 that you have never done before! To see Anna’s own paintings visit