I don’t remember whose idea it was, but a while back my three besties and I decided to participate in an evening of painting and wine at a local craft store. I do remember that my friend, Book Club Maven, and I carpooled and commiserated on the way about our combined lack of artistic ability. Turns out we were actually on par with the others there, especially after a few glasses of wine. There were seven people there that night; the four of us, another group of friends, and the instructor.

There was wine and cheese on the counter and paint tubes, business cards, pieces of paper, scissors, empty rectangular canvases, and a hot plate on the work surface. I don’t remember paintbrushes, but there certainly could have been some of those as well. Taking in the hot plate, we expressed a little concerned about what we’d gotten ourselves into. True to form, at some point during the evening, we renamed it an evening of paint and whine.

Our instructor explained that we would choose paint colors we liked and squirt them on the canvases, spreading them around with business cards. She told us just to have fun with it. She may have regretted that, as I think I used up her entire supply of gold paint.

About halfway through the evening, while we were still swirling and scraping away at our canvases, she introduced the hot plate. We were to take the little pieces of paper, cut them to any shape and paint them to any combination of colors, scrunch them up in our fists, thoroughly wet them in little bowls of water she produced, and set them on the hotplate to dry while holding their shape. Then we would glue them to our paintings.

So we set about cutting and scrunching and sizzling and gluing, admiring each other’s work as we went. And talking and laughing and teasing each other…basically enjoying our friendship. Cookie wondered aloud why we didn’t do things like this together more often and we resolved to do just that.

Cookie suggested trapeze school and we may have looked into that. I remember talking about circus camp at Teatro ZinZanni. We didn’t follow through on either, but we did begin monthly family dinners; rotating between each other’s houses. Paella, lasagna, chili, oh my! And laughter. There was always lots of laughter.

Marathon Girl, Book Club Maven, and I kept our paintings from the paint and whine. Cookie, the artist among us, threw hers out because, “Paint & icing are not my mediums.” So I don’t have a picture of Cookie’s, but here are the other three:

Marathon Girl's painting

Marathon Girl’s painting

I hadn’t seen Marathon Girl’s in a while until she sent me the picture. It looks like her to me, but I can’t say why. Yet.

Book Club Maven's painting

Book Club Maven’s painting

Book Club Maven’s, on the other hand, has been at the turn of her staircase for a few years, so I’ve seen it on every trip up to the playroom to hang out with her as we watched the kids or attempt to coax BamBam into putting down the marbles and coming home with me. I’ve had a while to think about why her painting embodies her spirit for me.

It’s clean and organized and elegant and lovely. It makes me think of apple blossoms and kites whipping in the breeze. Of warm spring days and Capri pants with white Keds. It’s solid without being imposing; delicate, but with a spine of metal. But that metal is gold, so it’s less rigid than unflappable.

And it’s fun, which is just like Book Club Maven, who can make me laugh out loud with a two-word text.

My painting

My painting

Then there’s my painting. Chaotic, but somehow it manages to stay on the canvas. It’s sort of all over the place, like me. But when it really looks like me is when it’s next to Book Club Maven’s because they don’t seem like they should fit together, they just do. To me, we’re the Odd Couple, Book Club Maven and me. She’s Felix to my Oscar.

I asked Book Club Maven if I could hang her painting in my new office, alongside mine. Here they are, hanging out together.

I asked Book Club Maven if I could hang her painting in my new office, alongside mine. Here they are, hanging out together.

Or maybe she’s J Crew and I’m Doctor Who. You can’t tell from looking at us, but both of our hearts are bigger on the inside.