I woke up smiling

Nov 03, 2022
Abstract Line Study on Paper

I woke up smiling from 2 early morning dreams. One was a simple scene of a hug with an old friend. The other dream was the same one I have repeatedly. In the dream I am my 22-year-old self, just graduated from college. Summer passes and some of my friends are going back to college.  Something happens. I don’t know what, but somehow, I need a few more credits and am allowed to go back for one final year.  I feel such joy in this opportunity to continue learning and now REALLY focus on my studies like I hadn’t before. And to be with my friends and make a difference as a senior member of my sorority.  The dream stops there. I never actually go back in the dream. But the joyful feeling of the possibility is all I need to wake up happy.   

I think I had that dream this week because I am reading a book that I am relishing. It's called Composition, Understanding Line, Notan and Color.  It’s not an easy read. I feel like Tom Hanks in the DaVinci Code figuring this out.  It was written in 1899 by a kindred soul named Arthur Wesley Dow.  Apparently, up until that time, “the fashion” of learning to paint was taught by copying the masters without regard for how they (the masters) made the painting. The original process used by Da Vinci to correctly draw and render a painting realistically in 3d with a 2d medium was oddly not considered at the time.  One was just meant to study and reproduce a painting as best as he or she could to learn to paint.  Even though that is not what Da Vinci, for example, did.  He spent hours drawing and was even the first person to dissect a human corpse to truly understand how to draw the body. 

Arthur Wesley Dow’s theories in 1899 were new: art students should study how to make beautiful paintings using design principles such as line, shape & color. Revolutionary! These original principles of his have evolved and been organized into what we call The Elements of Art and Principles of Design.  They are the tools artists can use to learn. It is an organized and logical way to think about art and learn to make it.

I believe my dream is about my renewed joy of learning and how I wish I had been this passionate in college when I had all the time in the world to do so. The time wasn’t wasted but it really wasn’t about deep learning in my early years. I suppose I didn’t yet have an idea of what really lit me up.  Through my art - teaching and searching for the best information to share with my art students, I have found it.