Boundaries and Grids of Life

The Beginning of a Painting A common exercise to help train the artist’s eye is to enlarge the image of a photograph by using a grid method wherein a picture is sectioned off.  A corresponding larger piece of art paper or canvas is similarly sectioned off in proportion, simply larger.  Then the student-artist concentrates on one square at a time noting where the line(s) meet the edge of the square and then focus on details that may have been glossed over before that time of careful observation.

Working on a grid slows us down!  Like it or not we have to really observe each little line and how they interact with other lines in order to recreate the image in a larger format.

There are many details in life we tend to gloss over until we slow down and really observe. Yes little things are often the big things as they say.  Those little nuances can have a mighty effect over the whole.

Sometimes life’s boundaries and grids, annoying as they can be, can help us more than we can imagine.

A grid study can point out quickly that we are pouring our energies into the wrong area.  The picture, as nice as it may be, may simply be started in the wrong place, and if we continue ignoring the yellow lights that the boundaries provide, the picture will never come up to our high expectations.

So what do we really learn from the boundaries and grids of life?  In a piece of art we learn that the careful observation of a subject is worthwhile because we not only learn how to render that particular image with increased accuracy, we gain knowledge that will help us on our next artistic endeavor.

Similarly, in life we learn that sometimes those ‘boundaries’ and ‘grids’ that are imposed upon us and appear to be just blocking our way from our goals – really are useful instruments that point to some little things that may need an extra look.

A year ago I changed careers and then life met me with a series of grids that I never could have predicted.  It has not been an easy year, but I sure have learned a great deal about pictures and more importantly about life from slowing down and considering what is truly important.  I found myself doing lots of projects and tasks that I didn’t have to deal with when life was fast-paced and seemingly productive.  But the boundaries and grids placed before me became a framework on which to climb on and grow.  Even though I would prefer not to have to deal with those encumbrances, I cannot deny that they have helped to reproduce a larger life than I ever could have imagined. By taking one square at a time and slowing down and really focusing on one line at a time I learned, and am learning, to persevere until the image becomes complete.

Do you have a boundary or grid before you in your art class or in your life?  Don’t be discouraged.  You are going to learn a lot!  It will be worth it in the end!



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