Monday, May 14, 2007
For Purple Mountains Majesty...
When I was about 10, I think it was, I asked for a set of watercolors for my birthday. My maternal grandmother was an artist and I loved looking at her work. My parents gave me a set of watercolors--a palette of eight colors: red, yellow, blue, purple, orange, green, brown, and black--and I was thrilled! I wanted to paint with them right then and there! But Mom asked me to wait a few days; Grandma June would be visiting and she could teach me how to use them.
Waiting for Grandma to arrive was almost as painful as waiting for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. It took f.o.r.e.v.e.r. for her to arrive! But finally, she was there. We sat down together with a drawing pad and paints and the tutorial began.
I grew up in Utah, which--if you haven't been there--is very mountainous and has impressive peaks and ranges that are majestic and beautiful. The mountains were our subject that day.
The first thing Grandma did was to sketch a mountain scene in pencil. I recall five or six peaks in the background with a lake and a little hut in the foreground.
Then Grandma asked what color we should paint the mountains. Naturally, I said "Brown." To which Grandma said, "Brown is certainly the color of the dirt and rocks when you're standing on the mountain, but from a distance mountains look purple, just like in the song." In my 10 year old mind I thought, "Purple?! Na-uh." But I obediently went along and watched Grandma carefully add a little water to each of the paint disks. Then she began painting one of the mountains. She handed the brush to me and I painted a little, too.
By the time we were done, we had a landscape that featured "purple mountains majesty above the fruited plains." To this day, when I draw and sketch--which is pretty infrequent and unfortunate--my mountains are shaded purple. When I did the drawing test this morning, I chose mountains because that's what I started with 29 years ago and I guess I was drawing what I know.
I've decided this year I'd like to take a drawing class again. The last class I took was in junior high school and then I stopped. So, here's my goal: by this date next year, when I turn 40, I want to post a drawing of majestic, purple mountains. It's never too late to learn, right?
Take the test here.
Photo copyright: Peakware