Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Where I Found My Right Brain

Years ago I had the good fortune to study color and decorative painting with one of the top professionals in the field, Joanne C. Day of the Day Studio-Workshop in San Francisco. I had recently left a career in insurance to start a business with my new husband Roger, who had just completed five years training in a union apprenticeship program and gotten his painting contractor's license. I knew I could contribute my business skills to our new company, but I also wanted to supplement Roger's painting expertise by learning about design and color so that we could offer services to our clients far beyond what they were used to, and set ourselves apart from the competition.

I researched the options for professional training and discovered that one of the best schools in the country, the Day Studio-Workshop, was a short ride away across the Golden Gate Bridge, and I wasted no time enrolling. Thrilled and inspired by what I was learning, I took one class after another, including Stone and Marble, Glazing and Gilding, Historical and Complex Stenciling, Color, etc. I also studied Casein and Color with one of Joanne's colleagues, Gale Laurence. Those classes changed the way I see the world, and changed my life because I went from using mostly my left brain (logical, analytical, objective) to discovering that I also had a right brain (intuitive, thoughtful, subjective), and beginning to develop it. We learned about asymmetrical balance, the "oval eye track", how to be inspired by shapes in the natural world, how to mix paints and work with color, and much, much more.

This part of my history came to mind the other day because I happened to think of some of the phrases Joanne frequently used, especially in the Stone and Marble class, where she taught us how to layer paints and translucent glazes to create incredibly beautiful and realistic-looking faux marbles and semi-precious stones, as well as many other special finishes. As we practiced Joanne would invoke our right brains by saying things like, "Avoid geometry and the alphabet.", "Create continental-shaped drifts."or "Contrast is the enemy.".

I know these expressions don't make sense out of context, but for example, the left side of our brain would take over when we began to learn how to create veining patterns, and they often looked like "x's" and "v's" (the dreaded alphabet). Eventually we were able to relax and use our right brain, letting inspiration from samples of veins in real marble guide our work. The comment about contrast had to do with making our faux marble samples with subtle contrast and depth like the real thing so that they looked as it they'd been created in layers over millions of years, instead like globs of paint sitting on top of a sample board.

At the time I had no idea of the long-term impact the training would have, but today I intuitively use the right side of my brain that I discovered at the Day Studio in just about every aspect of my personal and business life.

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