Miles to go for a girlfriend getaway…


I’ve always had romantic dreams of being an artist. I took enough classes in college to have a minor in Art, but, in the back of my mind I always heard those voices that said “I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” or “I can’t draw a stick figure.” When I saw an advertisement for a trendy “paint your own masterpiece” class at Big Cedar Lodge, two friends and I jumped in the car and headed toward Branson to scratch our creative itch. While the advertisement for Big Cedar’s Paint & Pour assured us that no painting skills were required to enroll in the class, we shared the usual reservations we have as women often have when we step outside our creative boxes. We were so nervous we could hardly stand ourselves.

Before the bustle of Branson, with its neon lights and long traffic lines, there is a little piece of Heaven that is Big Cedar. It’s rustic, but luxurious, and is situated on wooded hillsides of the Ozark Mountains on Table Rock Lake, just ten miles south of the Branson strip on Highway 65. Right away, the setting put us at ease. We were awestruck by the enormous lodge that is decorated in a style reminiscent of Bass Pro Shops, also owned by Big Cedar proprietors Johnny Morris and his wife Jeanie. When we checked in, we were directed down a winding staircase to a room fitted with top-notch art supplies, blank canvases, icy soft drinks, Big Cedar’s house wine and famous Chex Mix.  They outfitted us with precious Paint and Pour aprons, which we had all decided we wanted to keep before we found out they would let us! We felt nervous, but thrilled to get started.

Stephanie Watson, our instructor, showed us the adorable nest of eggs that we would paint together and assured us that everyone has creativity in their DNA. She went on to say that all artists are usually looking at something when they create their work – either a photograph, a model or a scene in nature and that we were simply looking at the beautiful nest that she had created and using it as our study. Ours would be unique, she said, even if we all painted nests. All would reflect our own style as an artist. “It’s a skill,” she said about painting.  “I wasn’t born an artist.  I learned the skill of painting.”  And, then she said something profound – “passion can trump giftedness.”  That’s just what I needed to hear.  I knew I probably wasn’t a gifted artist but I was passionate about my interest in art, and her words gave me the freedom to experiment and to put that first stroke on the blank canvas.  We began to paint!  Together, she taught us how to get certain effects from our brushes and with our paints.  All around me people were squealing with glee as the bird’s nests started to take form.

Then, all of a sudden, some of us hit a wall: colors started blending together too much, curves weren’t round enough, our paintings didn’t even resemble the instructor’s sample. Stephanie blew me away one more time with instruction that I found to be a profound metaphor for life.  “Stand back from your painting,” she said. “you’re looking at it too closely and seeing all of the imperfections. When you stand back and look at it from a distance, you’ll be more objective and you will see how beautiful it really is.”

It was true. While we all came away from Big Cedar with paintings that were similar, each was unique and showed our own personalities. We also came away a little more confident in our ability to create something beautiful – on canvas and in our lives. What a lesson we learned that day about art and life.


For more information on Paint and Pour classes and the painting theme for the week, call 1-800-225-6343 or 417-335-2777. Classes are offered every Saturday from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at Big Cedar Lodge. Classes cost $55, plus tax, and Big Cedar will provide all the supplies needed including easels, paint, canvas, brushes and apron. Two glasses of wine, water and soda plus Chex Mix are provided to enjoy while painting. In the end, you get to take home a beautiful painting and the cute Paint and Pour apron, too!  Additional information is available at


About ckeirn

This is an account of my life’s journey – road trips, places in my heart, people and things I love.
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