Girl with Pencil, Drawing
Girl with Pencil, Drawing
Chapter 1 - The Saturday Art Class
The screech of iron wheels against iron rails trilled through my body, making my teeth ache. I tightened my knees against the large art portfolio as the New York City subway train lurched through a turn, slowing towards the Spring Street station. Not able to control my nervous energy, I left my seat and headed for the sliding doors. I balanced the precious portfolio between my knees and looked at my reflection in the door windows, checking for obvious defects in my appearance.
Boy , I thought, You are nervous, girl. Let's see.
I ticked off the usual list of suspects causing appearance problems, starting with the new haircut and highlights. I thought it made my face look thinner, and I liked it. Check! I used makeup this morning but hadn't hidden the sleepy eyes. Who gets up this early on a Saturday? Well check, anyway. My outfit, comprised of a black fitted jacket, black and white plaid scarf, and black earmuffs made my light hair and eyes pop. Check!
My mother's warning rang in my ears. "Annie, stand up straight! It makes all the difference in the impression you make." For once I didn't argue with that voice in my head. I squared my shoulders, lifted my chin, and grabbing the portfolio and backpack, braced for the jolting stop I was anticipating with excitement and dread. Doors opened silently amid the racket of the train station. As cold damp air crept into the car, the few early Saturday morning passenger traveling with me spilled out on the platform.
My legs had a life of their own, carrying me up the ancient grimy stairway to the street above. My first art lesson at the DiCristiani Galleries loomed ahead of me. All the confidence I had felt when I won first place in my high school's art contest evaporated like the steam swirling up from the manhole covers in the downtown streets of Soho. Here was my chance to prove the talents I hoped I had.
I was anxious to get started and most of all to meet my teacher. The gallery had sent a packet of information about their program of studies, the art studio, and my instructor, Francesca Gabrielli. Her credentials were impressive. The fact that she had been accepted in a program at the Metropolitan Museum here in New York was big.
They had sent me a brochure with photocopies of her work which I admired. I hoped to learn important techniques from her, and go beyond what I had learned in my high school studio art class.
This was going to be an exciting opportunity for me. I tightened my grip on my portfolio and remembering my "posture for success" pep talk, moved on down the street.
A fuchsia pennant hanging from a brownstone building furled and unfurled itself in the icy February wind. That brownstone with its steep flight of steps was my destination. Half a block away it posed as a haven from the cold. Even so, I wasn't sure that I wanted to make the short walk there. I'd have to open my portfolio and show my pieces in a place not likely to be so nurturing to a seventeen year old as my art teachers at Rhodes School.
I took the steps, two at a time, and pushed the heavy oak and leaded-glass door open. What a beautiful place! I admired the wood paneling, the black-and-white marble floor, the art pieces placed around the two-story entrance hall. There was no one around and I wondered where to go. No little signs with arrows posted around the room. The only logical place to go was to follow a hallway leading to the back of the house.
"No! I can't do that! It's..." The strong words stopped me like a wall. The female voice came from the only open door in the hallway.
"I'm not paying you to tell me..." shouted a deep male voice. I lost the rest of the sentence as his angry voice dropped.
The sign above the door said ART CLASS. I stopped, u