Lessons Learned In Art Class

Lessons Learned In Art Class


This week I decided to act on my Word of the Year (CREATE) and do something creative.  Something that would take me way out of my comfort zone and challenge me.  I enrolled in an art class called Color and Mood because I love color, and I just knew it would help me in interior design.  Little did I know that the lessons learned in art class would also show me how to help clients in their quest for the perfect home.

Let me back up a little bit, to the day the supply list from the instructor arrived in my inbox.  Included in the list were instructions to bring pastels (too messy for me), oil paints (never tried them), and acrylic paints (haven’t touched them in 10 years).  And we needed all the brushes and papers that go with each medium.  I panicked!  I was in way over my head!  So I emailed the instructor who assured me that beginners were welcome.  The class to be was all about color and mood…not a technique class.

I was so excited for class day!  First of all, it was a chance to get out of the house during this monsoon season we’ve been having.  Second, I could hang out with some of my creative friends for two days.  And best of all, I was going to learn something new.

Color and Mood exercises by Sharon Colker

Our main exercise for Day 1 was to select a black and white photograph that the instructor provided.  We were to sketch it onto 6 different  6×6  boards.  That part was easy.  But then she explained that each board needed to be painted in a different color combination, and these colors would create a mood for each painting.  We had to paint each board as follows:  use the colors as they would be in real life,  use contrasting colors,  analogous colors (next to each other on the color wheel),  warm colors,  cool colors,  and monochromatic.

Have you ever had an anxiety attack right before you had to try something new and out of your comfort zone? Well, that’s exactly what happened when I started to put brush to canvas!  The thoughts going through my mind were  “I want it to be perfect”,   “I know it won’t be”,   “I’m afraid to start”,   “What if my friends think it’s awful?”.   Can you relate?   But I took a deep breath,  and told myself “it’s supposed to be fun…an experiment in color, not technique”. 

And I began to paint.

After two days of painting, experimenting, and learning from my mistakes, I discovered that the lessons learned in art class about life and design were just as important as painting again.  Here is my take away:

  • Before you begin a painting decide on the mood or emotion you want it to portray.  Keep this in mind for any home or office re-design project you want to take on.   Do you want the mood to be bright and cheerful or dark and cozy?

Pastel drawings by Patsy Dupre

  • Relax and don’t worry about perfection
  • Mistakes can usually be fixed
  • Walk away and come back to it later for a fresh perspective
  • Loosen up! It doesn’t have to look exactly like the photograph.  Insert your own personality and style into it.
  • The quality of the supplies you use impacts the end result and how much you like it. When it comes to our design projects, we all love to find a bargain.  But sometimes paying for better quality paint will give you better coverage and durability.  Buying a beautiful bargain sofa online without checking out all of the specifications, could be a huge mistake if no one will sit on it because it’s too hard.
  • Sketch it and “map it out” before you begin the painting. Plan, plan, plan is also the first and most important rule of every interior design project.

In the end, I was so glad that I took the class.  Sure, my work was far from perfect but I improved with each lesson.  By the end of Day 2 I was pleased with my work and ready to keep practicing.  But just like any design project we tackle, there’s always room for improvement when we start out.  Our design eye gets better with each new space we create.  And that’s what keeps it interesting and fun!

Photography by Becky Gilstrap, The Reserve at Lake Keowee