One of the activities I used to do when growing up was Art Classes. I’ve no idea why as I certainly showed no emerging signs of talent. I do have a big sister though and she did show signs of talent, or it could have been effort but more likely a combination of the two (she was extremely conscientious). She went to Art Classes so when I turned seven which was the entry age, I was put in the car and dropped off at the local Art Gallery every Saturday morning where we had lessons.
I wouldn’t have minded if it was more craft oriented but no, there was no gluing or cutting or pasting, these were drawing lessons. And we did a few in pencil and we then progressed to charcoal and there were a few who were excited about that but I couldn’t stop smudging my masterpieces and I wanted to add a bit of colour. Where was the blue charcoal?
I do remember being asked to draw a poodle and I did like that task as I very much liked dogs but I was sad the entire dog had to be coloured in the one dull colour. I thought he should have at least been allowed a bright red collar.
There was one boy in the class who was a couple of years older than me who used to get a lot of attention and he was as quiet as a mouse and so well behaved. But that’s not why Dave had all the teachers hovering over him. No, this boy was not only calm and polite with respect for elders who always did as he was told, he also had talent. I remember once he drew a pair of sneakers, all in charcoal of course with no smudgy marks ruining the image, and the teachers all gathered around and exclaimed about how life-like the drawing was and how he had talent beyond his years and how incredible drawn were the laces in the shoes and how brilliantly he’d made use of shadows and could they submit the drawing to the local paper.
And the next Saturday the teachers proudly brought in that issue of the Evening Star and passed it around so we could all see the charcoal sneakers forever immortalised in the local paper.
Meanwhile, I had to sit across the table from him with his younger sister beside me who was my age. She was fidgety and she talked a lot and the artistic genius gene her brother was bestowed clearly skipped over her as she could only muster about as much talent as me. She would say to me, ‘Dave told me how to do a really good drawing. You start at the bottom then work your way to the top’. So, thrilled to have the inside information that we were sure was the missing link, we both started our masterpieces from the bottom and when we were halfway to the top I said, ‘Donna, mine’s getting all smudged’, and she let out a giggle and said, ‘Oh, that’s right, I got it wrong; he said to start at the top and work your way to the bottom’. So we both had nothing worth framing at the end of that lesson as well.
I enjoyed sitting next to Donna and listening to her laugh and giggle over just about anything but I found the classes tedious and boring. I thought they needed livening up and decided if my sister Em could come along, we’d all have much more fun. When my father came to pick me up we walked out past the reception desk and I boldly went up to the counter and enquired as to whether or not I could bring my sister with me next week.
‘How old is she?’ the director asked.
‘I’m sorry, we don’t take anyone under the age of seven’.
And I brought my fist down hard onto the table, looked the woman in the eye and said, ‘Right, if it’s not good enough for her, it’s not good enough for me’. And off I walked leaving my father utterly speechless and grovelling some sort of an apology to the poor woman.
But there was a happy resolution. My father was too embarrassed to have his rude and utterly talentless daughter attend anymore classes so I was never taken back. It was a win/win for everyone.
What I would have liked in the classes was a bit more colour and these toffee apples would have been perfect.
Makes: 15 (using small apples)
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: Very inexpensive especially during Autumn when apples are in abundance.
- 15 green or red apples (I used granny smith and pink lady)
- 15 sticks
- 4 cups white sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tspn white vinegar
- 1 tspn red food colouring
Push a stick into each apple. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Place sugar and water into a heavy-based saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Stop stirring. Bring to the boil. Using a wet pastry brush, brush away sugar crystals on sides of saucepan above syrup. Stir in cream of tartar and food colouring.
Reduce heat to low. Simmer toffee for 20 minutes or until it reaches hard crack stage. To check if it has reached this stage, add 1 teaspoon of toffee to a glass of ice-cold water. Remove solidified toffee from water and bend it. The toffee should crack easily and not feel sticky. Once toffee is at this stage, remove from heat immediately.
Wait until toffee stops bubbling then dip 1 apple into toffee. Tip pan on an angle to coat apple in toffee, especially around stick. Place onto prepared baking tray. Repeat with remaining apples. Allow to set at room temperature.
This recipe has been adapted from Taste.