The Mona Lina

The other day Momma went to a class called “Paint Your Own Pet.”  These painting classes are quite popular in the Twin Cities and are put on by a local artist named Maddy Paulsen.  You should check out her website at!

The fee was $75.00 and that included the opportunity to paint an “original” of a beloved pet and wine and light snacks.  And success was practically guaranteed since the brochure said that no art experience was necessary!

As you can imagine, Momma was all over this.  She could already picture herself with a little beret perched jauntily on her head (ala Rembrandt), holding a palette of five colors, leisurely dabbing the canvas with paint as a museum-quality likeness of me emerged – all the while sipping on a glass of crisp white wine!

But back to reality.  The ladies were instructed to arrive fifteen minutes early to get their refreshments and to grab a spot at a table.  They would then have about three hours to complete the pet portrait.

Each table was equipped with five easels, each holding a blank canvas.  Each “artist” was given two copies of her pet’s picture – one original and one edited into 2-D shapes to look like a painting.  Next everyone was given a hunk of charcoal to rub on the back of the 2-D version so the image could be traced onto the canvas.

The women worked as quickly as possible, knowing they needed to save ample time for painting.  Momma was aware of the time constraints, too, but her tracing took forever and she was rapidly working herself into a state of panic.  My image contained about a million lines of tracing and countless amounts of colors – from white to cream to beige to tan to red to brown to black to about Fifty Shades of Grey (did I just woof that?)!  Then there were the blue eyes and God only knows what color nose.  Not to even mention the background.  (Why oh why didn’t she buy a solid white or black dog like some of the other ladies, Momma lamented!)  She already knew she couldn’t finish this painting, even if she had a month to do it.

When she finally had my image (roughly) transferred to the canvas, Momma turned to the painting portion of the class.  If possible, that part was even worse.  She had no idea where to start, so many were the choices.  After receiving help (and not for the first time) from Maddy on what to paint first, Momma plunged in.

Although she gave it the old college try, she was quickly overwhelmed by the staggering number of shapes to fill in and shades to pick from.  In full panic mode by now, she gave up on staying within the lines and began wildly slapping the paint on the canvas, almost Pollack-like.  She was praying that somehow, miraculously her painting would resemble a dog when it was finished.


Momma at right, and yes, that’s me on the easel

(By the way, it didn’t help that some of the women were already packing up.  This brought back painful memories for Momma of when the more studious kids in school turned their tests in when she was only half done.  How could they possibly be finished painting already, Momma wondered??)

Realizing she had no choice if she had any hope of saving face (and mine), Momma once again decided to ask Maddy for help.  Maddy, who could see that my picture was rapidly becoming a disaster – in fact, one of Momma’s “friends” had just pronounced it a “train wreck” – took pity and sat down to help.  Within minutes and with a few deft strokes, she quickly put Momma back on track.  (Okay – let’s be honest here – she finished the painting for her).  Thrilled – and relieved –  Momma gave it a few of her own final touches and called it a night – and her work!

Now Momma’s friend, Lori (“she better remember who brought her to the party, Lina”) is threatening to sign Maddy’s name at the bottom of my portrait as the true artist.  Momma is guarding it like the Mona Lisa.  In fact, I think it will soon be under glass.


The “artists” and their masterpieces:  Jane (Jaelynn), Lori (Sam), Sharon (Charlie),  Momma (me), and Vicki (Lucy)!


Lina, Muse




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