The Club

Scan 20

Over decaf, a friend told me of the time her teacher inherited a country club . Acre upon acre of sprawling grounds, putting greens, tennis courts, bungalows, a pool. Each August, he closed the club for a month, hung a chain across the drive, and filled it with artists, his students. He flew in models from New York and all day long they drew. At night they spread their work across the ballroom and he picked through the field of paper, a cassowary in a stained polo shirt, diving into the pile to pluck out a sheet of newsprint here, a watercolor there. As they sat cross-legged, smoking and paring the paint from their cuticles, he would weave a long twisting narrative that connected the works, a story of art and struggle and life.
This magical month of sunshine and charcoal and stories fueled the students through the year of ordinary living, until they could return the next summer to sip bottled beer on the club porch and pass around their sketchbooks once more.
I felt my cheeks grow hollow as I listened to this story from another era, a time of commitment and freedom I will never know. To live art so utterly, to learn without end, to share, to be young, to be led, to experience the drawing life as a mighty oak to add ring after ring to, never completed, always stretching and growing and failing and learning. Not a hobby or a vocation but a 24-hour life without end.
The story made me feel old and spent, standing on an empty train platform in the rain. Yearning for youth and ink and sunshine and possibility. Till deep in my head, a voice, a boy’s voice, said the sun was still shining and the day was still long.


  1. Sharon Gorberg

    OK so where are we going to have our first art club fest??????? :)

    • Elizabeth Flanagan

      It feels like we are enjoying a virtual version of this magical art month on Facebook right now in Sketchbook Skool. Our energy seems to be going through the roof and we are having so much fun!

  2. Chris

    love the sketch and story-I would love to have been there and feel like I sorta was through your post

  3. bohemianopus

    Lovely. And remember, it ain’t over till it’s over.

    I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma last year. My life is now peppered with infusion rooms and chemo drugs. There are no guarantees that I will wake up tomorrow, so I make it a habit to embrace every day as if it were my last.

    I consider myself a warrior who fights to create my own freedom and commitment not only to write, draw and paint–but to laugh, love and live.

    • dannygregory

      I love your spirit. We can all benefit from it cause after all there’re no guarantees any of us will be here tomorrow. Especially me. I’ll be on a plane to New York. ;)

    • sandrina mark

      hola bohemian,
      my mother in law lived for a full 6 years after her multiple myeloma diagnosis, stage 4 , should be dead in 4 months……..she did the new version of thalidomide and it worked, passed away from a heart attack a coupe months ago, happy , in her home and in her chair
      no other lame words but don’t give up
      god bless

  4. Chris

    Wow, a Sketchbookskool camp…..

  5. hyacinths

    Yes, the sun is still shining and the day is still long. I have a dear friend who took up oil painting 4 years ago. She’s an accomplished ballroom dancer and also takes piano lessons, alternating between classical pieces and “Great Balls of Fire” (think Jerry Lee Lewis). Just the other day, she told me she is thinking of learning to play the violin… At 86 years old, she is full of life and joy. There are 30 years difference between the two of us, and just being with her is enough to keep me going.

    • dannygregory

      Do you think she has grown more or less vivacious and risk-taking with the years?

      • hyacinths

        I think she has always been pretty much this way. She sees something that interests her, and she just goes for it. She’s not afraid to laugh or to cry; I love that about her.

  6. Susan Bass

    I had a 2 week taste of this magic once at a workshop in Acapulco in a faded glory of an old villa on a cliff above the sea. Nothing to do all day except paint, critique, swim, drink and be fed. Heaven! Except for the scorpions. You had to check your shoes every morning. There’s always got to be a scorpion or two in every paradise, right?

  7. Michelle Morris

    I love a good story and a good story teller. You are both. I think that convinced me to do sketchbook skool this semester. (That and I’m a huge follower of many of the teachers this time!) and then the replies to this post, so inspiring. I’m dealing with my own stuff and have lost the desire to create–but I just decided, you can sit it out or dance. I want to be 86 and learn to play the violin! Thanks to you all for the lift!

  8. Carol Lee Beckx

    Now all we need is someone who has inherited a country club. But the maybe we don’t.
    I agree with Elizabeth, the last few weeks have been like summer camp – hanging with friends and having fun and learning at the same time.

  9. All I have to say is that Independence Day in the USA is mine as well . . . not more full-time work for me! Just the beach, art supplies and more importantly, my own schedule! Age means very little so come and sit a while . . . bring paint/pencials/charcoal/whatever.

  10. magus1111

    Danny, what a wonderful posting! It’s a keeper. Thank you for your continued inspirational viewpoint, for dragging us all along on your quest to reclaim our creative birthright. Be careful on that flight, hopefully you were manufacturing some good Juju by sketching!

  11. Sue Cole

    what a wonderful story. You are a great storyteller as well as a great artist. You are a humanist, I believe – you see the humanity in others

  12. Lynn Cohen

    Danny(e), I am reading this through the eyes of a Sketchbook Skool student, and before I got to your second to last paragraph I was thinking I am so lucky to be getting that art life experience and feedback in SBS while in my early 70′s. I am overjoyed that’s it’s never to late to find your inner artist, and that there are places to find art community of which you wrote! If nothing else I am living an art filled life to the fullest from now until I stop breathing and of course I hope that’s a very long time off.

  13. royane mosley

    How do I join? Went to your link and it brought me here again?

  14. rorua

    If they were all smoking while they made art, life wasn’t so long for them. Just saying.
    I had a similar experience when I was seventeen. Art college was waaaay too heady for a convent girl. We ate, drank and breathed art, morning, noon and night. The sky grew dark as we discussed Schiele, Rothko, Kahlo and a million others. We were in love with life, with art and, all too often, each other. Then the teachers told us that drawing was for people who wanted to make pretty pictures. They made us cry sometimes. So one by one, we left art, and each other. Thirty years later and we’re all at it again: one of us was nominated for an Oscar, one is still a genius, and I am spreading the love for sketching in community centres, at my kitchen table, in bookshops and libraries and anywhere else I’m let. Those teachers loved art too, but they had a funny way of showing it.

    • Lynn Cohen

      Wow, glad you were able to continue making art after those “teachers” tried knocking the spirit out of you!

  15. Bernard Hornblower

    beautiful story thanks Danny,

  16. Margaret Abbott

    Something about this story makes it feel like a myth or a hero’s tale. “The Palace falls into a deep sleep for a month. The guards and rulers are all silent. The plants and rocks and trees all come to life, and the animals sing and dance.” (All except the monkey of course.)
    Love the idea of that whole month.

  17. Jane Blundell

    I have gone away with a bunch of fellow artists – students and professionals – on a few 5 day or 3 day or 2 day trips and the full immersion as so wonderful. (Dare I add especially for women who are not necessarily so able to drop all their other commitments looking after everyone else and just paint/draw all day.) So valuable. And the change to draw different things in different places is another joy.
    Lovely piece Danny.

  18. Cris

    Well I have been thinking about taking your second semester SBS but I cant play the videos on my laptop. I have tried over and over …they skip and stall and its very frustrating and annoying. what am I doing wrong? I have Windows 7.

  19. Darcy Parsons

    Beautiful drawng Danny.

  20. marty atwell

    This lovely writing……made me smile and be pensive at the same time.

  21. donaldrbernard

    Such compelling imagery. It made me reflect on my age – the things that I have not done and why that’s not necessarily a bad thing because indeed, as you say: “the sun is still shining and the day is still long.”

  22. maxine

    Yet this is exactly what you have done with SBS for so many of us! thanks Danny!!

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