If you want to see how diverse people are, take them to a painting class where they paint what they see, not copy a teacher’s painting. It always surprises me when you think everyone is like-minded, how different their views can be. The diversity that emerges is beyond my wildest dreams. Even though we are looking at the same thing, our perception, experiences and what we want to express all influence the painting which finally emerges on canvas.

In April’s article Passion and Grit, I discussed the path towards doing something radically different than your past experiences and skills but in line with your aptitudes.

Since April, I have completed my Associates in Arts degree at Brookhaven College and am currently enrolled at Southern Methodist University(SMU). The painting classes at SMU are worthwhile and informative. One of the exercises in oil painting is to paint a small image of a potted plant sitting on a chair. We captured the big shapes in black and white. Then, we painted the same image with analogous colors. Analogous colors are those that sit next to each other on a color wheel. A color wheel helps explain the color spectrum and what colors are next to each other in the visible wavelength region we can see and perceive. As you can see in the examples below, analogous colors are high energy and vibrant.

Some of the most famous and well-recognized examples of masterpiece paintings in analogous colors are by Vincent Van Gogh. Orange, yellow-orange and yellow are examples of analogous colors. They are painted well in Sunflowers, a painting by Vincent Van Gogh. The colors share a common thread – the hue yellow. The color is a unifying force and brings cohesiveness.

As you can see in the images below from classmates, the perception of a plant on a chair in analogous colors is amazingly different in feeling, mood and perception. Each time we paint the same image, I am awestricken with the diverse points of view. My appreciation of diversity is widened and expanded, more than any corporate training course I took over the years. If you want to see how diverse people are, participate in a painting class where you will paint what you see. Take it to a deeper level and really observe, as Steve Straus reminds us in his coaching.

The diversity of understanding the world I saw in my fellow artist is one of humanity’s greatest assets and difficulties. Even though we are looking at the same thing, our expression on canvas is the outgrowth and manifestation of our diversity.

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About The Author

Julie England

What began as a transition out of Corporate America turned into Julie’s aspiration of becoming a painter. She studied art in Dallas, TX and Santa Fe, NM, two major hubs of art and culture in the Southwest. Julie's sense of line, color and texture is enriched by the years spent traveling to Santa Fe, NM. During that decade, hundreds of hours were spent exploring works of other painters combined with many years of community service in local art museums. She developed a strong sense and direction for her own path as a painter. Julie lives in Dallas, TX with her husband. She is involved as a current or former board member with the Dallas Museum of Art, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts Advisory Board and Dallas Arboretum in Dallas, TX and Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, NM. Visit her website.