Painting Class, Day Two

Note: I am still a day behind. This is yesterday’s post just getting loaded today…

So far I’m tired and the art class at the Greenbrier Resort hasn’t even started yet! I got up early to have a cup of tea, get my bearings and re-organize my art supplies. I had called the class organizer last night and asked just how we were supposed to manage getting gear into the building. She told me to drop things off at the “North Entrance,” go park the car, and someone from the gallery would help me.

Uh… yeh.

There’s just no way to easily transport a heavy, solid wood French Easel, a tackle box of paint and a huge tote of wood panels, mineral spirits, paper towels, etc. Not to mention a hat, painting apron, bug spray, sunscreen, a water bottle and assorted snacks. I was dreading this part of the whole thing.

North EntranceI got to the Greenbrier early, got my daypass and found the North Entrance. Look at this… pretty snazzy for a “side door” doncha think? I pulled up, unloaded my stuff to the porch and went to look for a parking place. Ugh. Nothing to be had. So I circled like a vulture until I found one and then walked back to where I had left my things. Really, it wasn’t that far, but since I haven’t been walking, I was a huffing, puffing mess in no time. And I still didn’t know where I was going.

Plus… I wore decent shoes instead of my tennies and I already had blisters on my heels.

It wasn’t even 9 AM.

I found my way to the gallery – two more trips of schlepping – and they weren’t open. So I parked my stuff and sat on a bench in the hallway. A tufted, padded bench in a very GRAND hallway. I got my breath and waited.

Before long someone came and opened the Gallery and asked if that was my stuff outside the door.

“Yep,” I replied.

“You need to go to the West Virginia room with all this.”

“Do you have a cart I can use?” I asked.

“I don’t think so,” said the young girl, “but when the owner gets here, she’ll know what to do.”

“I’ll wait,” I said. I had no intentions of moving another inch in this enormous place without assistance.

Fortunately, the gallery owner was very accommodating. She not only produced a cart, but an able-bodied man to steer it. Off we went through a maze of over-decorated splendor from a century past. I was gawking all the way.

Once settled into the class room, others began to trickle in. Turns out they weren’t particularly dressed any nicer than me – AND they had a ton of stuff, too. The difference was they knew what to do…

Each had pulled up to the front door, valeted the car and had a bellman load their gear onto a cart. Duh.

I complained a bit about my “hike” from the car and lack of convenient parking and one lady said, “I just gave the valet $5 and he parked the car for the day.”

“But there will be a different valet when you go out later and you’ll have to pay him, too!” I observed.

“Oh, it’s worth it,” she replied.

Hmmm. I guess I can walk a few blocks each way for 10 bucks. Even if I do huff and puff.

Anyway, I was settled in and the fun was about to begin. I had read great reviews of the artist-instructor, John Poon, and I was excited to get started.

We went around the room introducing ourselves and John asked each of us what we would like to get from the workshop. Then John told us to pick out a photo from the stack he had on the table and spend 45 minutes doing a quick study painting of it. That way he could observe us. He would be able to tell a lot by seeing how each person approached the assignment.

No one produced anything great, including me. But it was nice to cover a small canvas in a short time.

Soon it was time for lunch. There are several restaurants available and I chose to just walk downstairs with several other ladies to the one called Dorothy Draper’s. Ms. Draper was an iconic decorator who outfitted the Greenbrier in its over-the-top décor. Evidently she was considered America’s most influential “tastemaker” at the height of her career and the Greenbrier has maintained her oversized floral patterns everywhere. Some look rather classic to me. Others are down-right gawdy. I can’t say I’m a huge fan.


The restaurant looked like a princess pink room gone mad. The back of the floral print booths are scalloped with gold finials at each point. Rather like a faux throne. Or a pepto bismol explosion.

Even though this is the “low-end” restaurant that will let you enter in casual attire, I knew it would still be pricey. I enjoyed a $20 hot dog.

Actually the hot dog was $8 and the iced tea was $4. (Wow!) I was chatting when the bill came and the receipt was quite faint. I saw the total was $15.95 and thought, hmmmm… that added up fast! But I just wrote $5 on the typical “tip” line and handed it over. Later when I looked more closely, here was the charge: hot dog, $8… iced tea, $4… Historic Preservation Fund, 78 cents… 20% service charge, $2.40. THEN the line I added the $5 tip to said “extra gratuity.”

The kicker is the bottom of the receipt says, “For your convenience, a service charge has been added to your check.” Evidently they are somehow doing me a favor by serving me an $8 hot dog and a $4 glass of iced tea. I can’t imagine what dinner in the main dining room must cost!

Two of my lunch companions did not bat an eye at this. They both own HOMES on the Greenbrier property. Neither lives there full time. It’s just one of their getaway places. No wonder valet parking is a given. Just part of the lifestyle. A lifestyle I haven’t really been exposed to. Here are some typical cottages at Greenbrier…

Greenbrier cottage

Still, I enjoyed the lunch and the hike back to our classroom. I would love to walk around the Greenbrier to see more of it while I’m here. It is absolutely endless.

Back in class, John gave a rather long lecture with slides on “values” – which is the lightness and darkness of the paint colors you use. And now I could see what a good teacher he really is. The information was quite eye-opening and not quite like anything I had heard before. It will take me a bit of practice to learn it, but it is good stuff that should help me a lot.

Then we painted again, trying to use this new information. And this is the frustrating part of any workshop… trying to do something new and just making a mess. It always happens.

When the day ended, I trekked back to my car and drove the 10 miles back to Lewisburg. As I was going through the small downtown I noticed an open parking spot right in front of the Stardust Café. Everyone had recommended this place to me, so I took the spot and went in.

Stardust cafe

The place is small, but charming, and has a very good chef. The service was great and my plate of Sicilian Pasta was huge. I boxed up more than half of it to go because it will make a perfect lunch tomorrow. I’d much rather take my lunch than try to eat at the Greenbrier. In spite of what they call their “impeccable standards” I find it all very pretentious. No more $20 hot dogs for me – although I CAN say I had one at the Greenbrier Resort!

So it was a good day and I learned a lot. Now all I need is a glass of wine and a hot bath in the lovely clawfoot tub back at my room. And tomorrow is tennis shoes only. Darn the blisters!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Patti
    Sep 09, 2015 @ 21:15:33

    LOLOLOLOL!! That was great and I loved the “Pepto Bosmol explosion”! Love the pictures and how in the world do you keep finding little bits of interest with your name…never seen anything like it!!…Loving this!…….Onward…No. 3


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