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Building Values. Life Imitating Art

Thursday, March 12th, 2009
Building Value

Building Value

Those of you who follow me on Twitter know I attended a drawing class at a local community center last year. Yes, this little teapot (short-and-stout) is my handy-work.

After showing her my first homework assignment, the instructor looked at my work and said “not bad, but you need to build on your values more.”

Each consecutive week, she gets increasingly animated in her encouragement: ”Build your values! Build your values!”

From what I understand, the term ”value” in the art world defines the depth or intensity of light and dark in your pencil sketch.  And, different values are identified with various labels like highlight, shadow core or middle grey.

I find a curious (and symbolic) correlary here, that while I’m building my values in art class, I’m also doing the same thing in my current reality.

I’m not talking about moral values.  I’ve already got loads of those, as do most of us.  We all know the golden rules, and how to apply them to our lives.

I’m talking about building depth, intruige and character in the portrait of our lives.

The symbolic analogy gets more charming when we learn building value in pencil sketching is accomplished by adding layers.  We begin with a light shading with the pencil, and continue to add multiple layers of shading to build the darkeness (or, augment the lightness) of an area.

There are no shortcuts to the layer process either.  When I’ve crammed my pencil in an area to beef up a darker value, it looks like crap.

That’s true in life too.  Cramming and short-cuts just don’t make the grade as elegantly as progressive/thoughtful building.

Experience, growth, learning, observation – all of these and more are layers we’re applying to our life, and they most likely illicit artful expression when added accumulatively and with sincere/mindful application.

More layers = more diversity.

More diversity = more depth.

More depth = more value.

Naturally, it takes time to build layers.  It’s an investment; a devotion to building integrity with a goal to enhance value.

What kind of value are you building in your life?

Take a look at your life as if it were a black and white pencil sketch.  Can you identify the highlights?  The shadows?

Consider the various experiences, beliefs and perspectives that layer your life.  Those elements in your experience that build up to offer value, depth and intensity.

In the “big picture” of your life, are you layering a foundation for higher, beneficial vision?

These are just some of the questions that cropped up for me while my instructor flails her arms and animatedly urges me to “Build your values!” I thought I’d share them with you.

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