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Life Lessons: The Principles of Design

A Walk In The Shadows

The Path Home

The principles of design in art: balance, contrast, movement, pattern, rhythm, variety/unity, and emphasis.

I have often felt that these also are principles of life. The two paintings of today reflect the extreme contrasts of recent periods of my life. In the extreme pendulum contrasts I went on a quest for balance.

Contrast could be describe with words like: good/bad, positive/negative, night/day, hot/cold. Extremes of conditions. Both of my paintings I am showing today are of the same subject, a white picket fence. They actually are from the location, just different times and different emotions.

Newtons Law:

"For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction"

Life changes can illustrate this law very well. One minute you are moving at 110 miles an hour without a lot of control over your time and the next you have come to a dead halt without any of your usual things to occupy you time.

My painting, A Walk In The Shadows, was created during a time where I was moving at that 110 miles an hour. There was not much down time and extreme life changes were taking place, some exciting and some sad. I was hurrying home one day and turned on a less traveled road toward my house. As I looked to the church on the left I saw contrast of the shadows on the hot concrete up against the hot white of the fence in the summer sunlight. I was drawn to the contrast and stopped to take a photo for a possible painting. It was such a hot day that I thought how glad I was to have on shoes while standing on the hot concrete. If barefoot, I would have to jump from shadows to shadow to find relief from the hot concrete.

The painting was done during this extremely busy time and I can happily say that it was accepted into a juried International show. A few months later, my extremely busy life went from 110 miles an hour to 0. The contrast was extreme. It felt like a teeter totter. I was way up high and going up and down, and then the other person gets off suddenly, and I hit the ground hard. BAM! Covid. Isolation. Grief. Anxiety.

What to do with all these emotions? So I turned to the two things that are therapy for me: my painting and working in the yard. I looked around the yard and noticed that in my "busy" period, the weeds had gotten out of control. I went after them with a vengeance. It took several back-breaking months to get the entire yard weeded. I started at point 1 and patiently continued until every bed was complete. Then I went back to bed 1 to start a new project and guess what...they were back! Equally as bad as when I had started. In this solitary time, I felt broken and depressed and over-whelmed. At about this same time, I was listening to a podcast and heard a woman talking about "problem solving". She said solutions to problems were like six-packs. Now this got my attention. She said that there were at least six solutions to solving a problem, like a six pack. If the first solution doesn't work, choose another one from the pack. I thought about this and the principles of design came to mind. Contrast! What is the opposite of weeds? Flowers! And with this same principle, I thought about the contrast of stillness. Movement! The contrast of ugly thought (how I felt about the weeds). Beauty! So I started walking!

I started walking the same path I had been walking but with a different purpose. I was looking for the contrast of what I had been concentrating on...Beauty. On the way I met neighbors I had never met before. I stopped to compliment one on how nice her yard looked and she told me about a business called Weed Warriors. I started noticing things on my walk that I had previously passed without notice, like the red door on an old white house. That red door just seemed to invite me to paint it. I broke out of my routine route and ventured over the bridge into an older neighborhood. I walked down the sidewalk of the church with the picket fence that I had previously painted. This allowed me to see the path going down the back of the property. A path I would not have seen if I had not gotten off the road and walked the fence line. This path bordered the same picket fence but with a whole different feel. The shadows were calm and peaceful, a total contrast to the first painting I did of the fence. If I had not started walking to find beauty, I never would have found the subject of this painting, The Path Home.

The Weed Warriors came and got rid of all my weeds in one morning. I was introduced to a lovely woman who helped me start this website. I found unlimited objects to paint on my walks. I had a successful one-man show in the month of October of a total Covid shut down. Many of the paintings in the show were products of my walks to find beauty and in the process found balance to the contrast. I titled my show Walk In Beauty. The title came from the following poem that I felt expressed my feelings of my walking experience:

Walk In Beauty

(Navajo prayer)

Beauty in front of me, Beauty behind me,

Beauty above me, Beauty below me

Beauty all around me

I walk in Beauty....

In the house of life, there I wander

In the house of happiness, there I wander

Beauty before me, Beauty behind me

Beauty above me, Beauty below me

Beauty all around me

In old age traveling, with it I wander

On the beautiful trail I am, with it I wander.

In beauty, it is begun

In beauty, it is finished.

I happily share with you the beauty of my contrasting paintings, A Walk In the Shadows and The Path Home.

Thanks for connecting,


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