So much of my life seems ordinary… I do not live an extraordinary existence by any stretch of the imagination. I am a student, I have a 10-hour weekly job, I occasionally cook. And now, I paint once a week.
I enrolled in a studio art course at my university’s student center. The classes are open to everyone—-you just need to make it to the registration period before the classes close. I have now been painting on Thursday afternoons for two weeks. The process has been slow-going, and has exposed to me some of my more impatient tendencies. When other students do not follow directions, I think, “stop! you’re not doing it right!” Then, with a suddenness that makes me chuckle, I wonder, “is there a right way to do anything? is my way more right than theirs just because I am following instructions from someone else?” In this way, the classes have been freeing. But they have also been frustrating.
The first week, we did studies in value: mixing burnt umber with white to get different values of color. The second week, we mixed colors from the three primary colors: red, blue, and yellow. We mixed secondary (green, orange, and purple), then tried tertiary colors (blue-green, lime green… when any secondary color is mixed with an adjacent primary color). From there, we began tinting: mixing colors with more and more white to get higher tints of a color (pink is a tint of red). We have yet to really begin painting anything, but the process itself is worthwhile… we need to learn (or in my case, re-learn) the basics of color theory before we can begin letting our imaginations run wild.
It is on this slow-going, often frustrating process that I reflect. On the one hand, there are certain theoretical techniques worth learning; on the other hand, there is no one “right way” to do something. I am caught between wanting to do more and acknowledging the necessary slowness of doing something well. I invariably leave myself too little time to complete assignments because I just want them to be over with… I do not want to take the necessary time to do something truly well.
Thursday afternoons are a reminder to slow down and enjoy the process.