Cranky. That’s how I’ve felt this past week. My immune system was working overtime trying to fight off a cold. The deadlines for a couple of freelance writing projects had arrived. I made a commitment to volunteer at a wonderful and worthy weekend event when I really needed to be working at the computer. I had homework.

Fortunately, I love, love, love doing my homework. This week it has been my saving grace.

Our drawing assignment, for instance, is to create an 18″ x 24″ value study that incorporates multiple abstract shapes taken directly from specific visual sources. We have to compose the shapes (overlapping and isolated to make new shapes) across the entire page and relative to each other. Within each shape we have to develop a value transition from lighter to darker values and use different and varying types of surface and textural approaches.

Doesn’t that sound complicated? Don’t you have to read it over and over again to figure out what the professor wants?  Thank goodness, he also explained it in class. I get it — I hope — and am really excited about the challenge. I haven’t figured out exactly what direction I want to take, but at least I’ve chosen my visual sources. Leaves.


I was looking out my office window instead of writing  when I got the idea. My backyard is filled with leaves of all different shapes and sizes. I grabbed my phone and went outside to snap some pictures. Walking around on a beautiful day, listening to the birds and looking at leaves. In ten minutes I had a few dozen images and it was just the break I needed from my work. It was better than meditating.

2D Design
For design class we had to finish up a project we started last week. The first step was to write our signatures over and over again on a big sheet of paper, turning it a bit each time we wrote. The result was a mishmash of lines and loops.

Signature mishmash

We had to cut out five 1.5″ x 1.5″ squares from the mishmash and then narrow it down to one to use as the basis of our project. We made three copies of the square. On one, we just traced the lines with a felt tip pen, on the second we filled in what we considered positive spaces and on the third we filled in the negative spaces. My three squares:

Three squares

The professor made several copies of each square and our assignment was to arrange them on a 7.5″ x 7.5″ grid we’d lightly drawn on an 11″ x 14″ piece of bristol board. We had to grid it off into 1.5″ modules, matching the size of our squares. She gives us very specific instructions.

Our design had to incorporate the variations of the invididual squares to create a feeling of overall unity and cohesiveness. We used a special adhesive to stick the sqaures to the bristol board.

We only had to use 25 pieces, but it felt like I was putting together a 1000-piece jig saw puzzle! Here’s my finished design. Choose your orientation.





So, why did I choose soul nurturing as the name of this post? Because in the midst of my crankiness, whenever I worked on my art homework I was at peace. I sat in my studio with the music on and played with all those little squares, moving them around, over and over again. Throughout the week I thought about how challenging my life has become. Someone told me they were worried that I’d overextended myself by going to school. I admit it, I do feel overextended sometimes, but I also feel enormous joy. If something has to go, it won’t be art school. I know that for certain. It nurtures my soul. We all need soul nurturing.

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Dan Marois · October 7, 2013 at 3:25 pm

You are living the dream, I imagine. BTW….you can’t possibly be 65…that is an outright lie, I’m sure.

    Diane Atwood · October 7, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    I love you Dan! My birthday is next Sunday, so I won’t be 65 much longer.

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