Mrs. Pennypack wrinkled her nose at the pungent smell of turpentine and oils that permeated the room. She dabbed her brush in black paint and mixed it with the white paint in the center of her pallet. The result was a soft gray, much like the curls that lay against her cheeks. Frowning at the color, she glanced around for her instructor. He was standing by a student, examining a canvas. She caught his eye when he looked up and waved him over.
“Yes, Mrs. Pennypack?”
The elderly woman pointed at the swirl of gray on her pallet. “Lorne, I mixed white and black, but this isn’t the color I wanted at all. I think I need a light brown for my mountains.”
A flash of impatience crossed the young instructor’s face, then faded as he sought control. “Remember the basics? White and black are going to make gray every time. Start over and use red and green, then lighten with white. That should give you a nice shade of brown.”
“Red and green? Why, I never would have thought of that.”
Lorne mumbled under his breath.
She smiled. “Did you say I was forgetful?” Before he had time to answer, she added, “Did you roll your eyes at me?”
He forced a smile. “You don’t seem to be catching on as quickly as the rest of the students, but I’m trying to make allowances. I know you are older.”
Mrs. Pennypack nodded and ignored his patronization. She thought of all she could add, such as she had made many important decisions in her lifetime and lived through things he could only read about in history books. Her experience and wisdom would far outweigh his. Instead, she chuckled. “Yes, I’m definitely older than anyone else in class.
While you’re standing right here, would you refresh me on which brush to use to make my shrubbery?”
Lorne sighed audibly. “We went over that yesterday. I thought I made it very clear. You will need the small fan brush. Mrs. Pennypack, perhaps art isn’t your forte.”
“Of course it isn’t. That’s why I’m taking this class. I want a challenge.” She was sure she heard an expletive under his breath.
She smiled. “God bless you, Lorne.”
He looked at her, puzzled. “Anything else?”
“Jesus loves you.”
“Hmm. Yes, that’s what some claim.”
She knew then her suspicions had been right. Lorne didn’t know Christ.
He quickly changed the subject. “You know there are only three classes left. You’ve barely started your painting. I doubt you will finish it.”
Her face lit up. “That’s not important. I’ve got to enjoy my outings three afternoons a week. I’ve met new people, and I’ve got to enjoy your company.” She patted his hand, and he stiffened. “You’re a fine young man, Lorne.”
“Thank you, but the goal is to finish your painting.”
“No, that’s not my goal. I was put on this earth to fellowship with Christ, imitate Him and tell others about Him.”
“I won’t discuss religion with you or anyone else, Mrs. Pennypack. If you don’t have any more questions about your painting, I’ll just make my way around the room.”
“I can‘t think of anything.”
“Then I’ll go.”
Lorne turned to leave, but his elderly student caught his elbow. “Lorne, just so you know, talking about Christ isn’t a religious discussion. It’s spreading the best news mankind has ever received. I’ve got three more classes to tell you about it and I intend to keep talking. Jesus really does love you.”
He shrugged his arm away when another student called for him. “Whatever. As you can see, I’m being paged.” He walked off, with a determined bounce in his step.
Mrs. Pennypack called after him. “Thank you for this art class, Lorne. It’s been a wonderful opportunity for me.” She prayed the seed she planted would flourish. Maybe Lorne could look back someday and say it had been a wonderful experience for him as well.
Staring hard at her canvas, she realized it wouldn’t take much to transform her landscape into a painting of Calgary. She squeezed red and green paint onto her pallet and mixed them, then lightened with white. The resulting shade of brown would be perfect for a wooden cross.
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