The Peaceful and Ordinary

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.


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