Art Lesson from Life

Note: I was looking for an older post and ran across this one. It ran in March of 2008, but seems just as applicable now as then. I’m posting it today because I don’t expect people to read my blog every day and memorize it. Really. So enjoy, or enjoy again!

It was my first night in colored pencil class. This sounds a bit like coloring class for grown-ups. The lesson was drawing an apple. As I looked at the apple in front of me, I noticed it was irregular and had an interesting stem–and that made for a great outline drawing.

The lesson was to apply color from light to dark, so the first step was to cover the inside of the drawing with a nicely applied layer of cream. You dont’ want a lot of white spots on the paper. A layer of a light color modifies the image nicely.

red appleAs I applied layer after layer, it occurred to me how complicated the outside of an apple is. And how easy it is to make the apple look three -dimensional with the addition of a darker color. And how the highlight, where the ceiling light shines off the peel, is not really white, but reflective.

While I sat an applied color, I learned that a wash of yellow over the curve in the front brightens the entire image. That using the opposite of the red color of the apple–green–makes the shadows look deeper. That another layer of color can change the color entirely.

And I smiled because this sounded more like a life lesson than an art lesson. That steadily applying a cheerful face to life makes you more cheerful. That knowing the opposites in life–happiness and sorrow, failure and success, patience and impetuousness–adds richness to the texture of life. And that adding another perspective can change your outlook. Not only that, but that a lot of work and a willingness to keep layering color makes for a better depth of experience.

When I was done, I had used 15 colors on the apple. It had taken two hours. And I know that if I show it to someone, they’ll shrug and say, “Well, what will you DO with that? Can you sell it?” And I’ll smile and say, “It’s art,” and think, “Just like life.”

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach. See her work at raw-art-journals.com  Apple drawing by Quinn McDonald. (c) 2008-9 All rights reservd.

2 thoughts on “Art Lesson from Life

  1. Dear Quinn,
    Such beauty of love & life in your words. At last an artistic mentor (when the student is ready the teacher will come) who shares the spiritual depths & reflections that creativity brings to the surface.

    (btw – I find it difficult to say the ‘Art’ word & use ‘creativity’ everywhere instead.. ??…maybe because creative is direct link to Creator … maybe because ‘Art’ has bad press & brings arty farty to mind!)

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