Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lean on Me Sunflowers and the Story of How I Got a C Minus in Color Theory by Texas Artist Nancy Medina

Lean on Me Sunflowers
by Nancy Medina
Oil on Canvas
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Lean on Me Sunflowers is drying on the easel in Flower Mound Studio as Friday and the weekend approaches, like a light at the end of the tunnel. I sit at my desk at work each day, thinking about my next goal, my next blank canvas, and the next flower that is waiting to be painted. I do believe that if I had full free access to my studio, and was not working a full time day job to pay the bills, the reward of time in my studio each evening might not be as sweet. Would I appreciate that time as much, if I had it all the time? Would it be hard to get motivated, if the only thing standing between me and my brushes each day was housework?

When I took my first color theory course in college, the instructor asked all of us who in the class had painted before. I raised my hand high. I was the only student with a hand upheld. He turned to me and announced I would be his most difficult student, since I would have to "unlearn" everything I knew before I could learn again. I worked very hard in the class, I thought I did a great job. Our final exam was a still life setup of all white objects. A white candle, a white pitcher, all on a white cloth. I labored over this still life as if everything depended on it. I turned it in, quite proud, and was shocked to have it returned the next week with a C minus on the back. It was the most important grade of the semester, and it was sure to pull down my 4.0 average just prior to graduation. I was crushed. But when the final grades were released, he had given me an A minus. For years I was utterly convinced this instructor was evil incarnate, but recently I've begun to see that he was trying to tell me something. In order to learn something new, you must first empty your mind of all preconceived ideas. The longer I paint, the more I begin to realize, each subject I put on canvas is the instructor - not what I think I know about a flower, but what that individual flower has to say to me at that unique moment in time and - most importantly - in the light at that moment. I'm not a fan of long-winded speeches or instructional procedures, but I do believe very strongly in that one lesson. I have to learn it, again and again, every time I pick up a brush.
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