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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Coloring outside the lines

 "Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training."  -Anna Freud

I picked up this cute little project the other day in the dollar section. It came with three colored markers so you could fill in the uncolored areas.

As I "painted" the piece, it brought back memories of trying to stay within the lines when I was a child. Because that's how a picture was judged to be successful; by our ability to color within the lines; to follow the teacher's rules.  And I usually came away frustrated as I didn't quite reach the teacher's standards.

As an adult taking art classes, again I found myself frustrated because the teacher wasn't teaching how to develop my talent but instead teaching how to paint her way; to make her art. A "here's how you paint by following what I do" lesson. Again, coloring inside the lines. And I felt like a failure because I couldn't replicate her look 100%.
The teacher's - starting the painting
The teacher's almost finished
I'd cringe when she came by because I knew I hadn't gotten it like hers and generally got a comment or two about how I had failed.  So I'd quit that class after a time, completely discouraged. Trying to paint within the lines those teachers set just wasn't working for me.

Mine finished My pumpkins aren't like hers or anything else for that matter.

I can remember when I painted this picture, all I got was negative comments. Plus, the teacher came along, grabbed my pencil and changed it without asking, telling me I needed to pouf the hair and some other things.  It didn't sit well with me. I never liked it as it was no longer my drawing/painting.

This one also got frowns. She was teaching how to paint sunflowers - hers were in a vase and I put mine in a wagon. Never mind the flowers look ok and the wagon wonderful. I didn't do exactly what she did:

I can't tell you what a relief it was to finally find a teacher who encouraged me to develop my own talent. He was kind and helped me improve; he found the good in each effort then pushed me to become better; he encouraged me each step of the way.

A "redo" of the mailbox painting in acrylic.
While not perfect, it was my painting all the way. The boy's
hair isn't poufy - it looks like the photo

I started learning about shapes and values while painting my own subject matter:

And when I told him I wanted to learn how to start a painting without tracing, he challenged and pushed me out of my comfort zone. He wouldn't let me get away with sloppy or half done, but he was never mean about it.

From leaves like this:

To this:

And to this:

And flowers like this:

To these:

And these:

 I've learned more and come further than I ever thought possible.

From Life Drawing Class - Same model but from two different years

 I no longer cringe when someone critiques my paintings because I'm not following someone else trying to do their painting. Instead, I have finally learned to color outside the lines and it is good.



  1. Cecilia, I loved this story! I am not a true artist, but I use to teach Tole painting. I love it when someone creates their own style! That's what makes each item unique and our 'own'! Love your art pieces. The leaves on the barn roof top and the flowers are my favorites. So glad you found a teacher that knew how to teach! Happy to be a new follower.

    1. Thanks Jann for the follow and sweet comments. Funny, I never had an issue with my tole teachers. They were always kind and encouraging. It was only when I wanted to really learn art that I ran into that problem. If you'd like to see the whole image or more of my art, you can go to my web page:
      And I am happy to follow you too!

  2. You're so talented!! I cannot believe that someone would try and 'squash' your creativity like that! Glad that you've followed your own path :)

    1. Thank you so much Susan. Yeah, I don't know what her problem was...guess she felt by not copying her exactly was a criticism of her? I don't know!

  3. Cecilia, you have such talent! I'm glad that you stuck with it and didn't give up!

    1. Thank you, Tammy. I guess I'm stubborn that way. But I do admit it felt pretty hopeless before I finally found my last teacher. All art teachers should be like him!

  4. Unas creaciones impresionantes. Las fotografias me encantan, transmiten lo que nos quieres enseñar. Felicidades por tu bloc ha sido todo un regalo el visitarlo, espero que visites el mio y si te gusta espero que te hagas seguidora.

    1. Thank you. I will pop over and visit you back.

  5. Hi Cecilia, just returning your kind visit. This post really struck a chord with me as I am always saying to my daughter that she should ask her teacher not to interfere when she is creating during her art lessons as art is showing your own individuality. She also now has a different art tutor who pushes her out of her comfort zone and listens to her ideas. Your paintings and sketches are beautiful and I have to say your pumpkins show more detail than your previous teacher. Have a wonderful week. xx

    1. Hi Chel! You know, I think most teachers mean well but forcing someone to copy their style is not good...A good teacher should always be encouraging individual style, in my opinion! Oh, I post more on my other blog if you're interested in looking at it:
      Gave a great week!

  6. Hi Cecilia, thanks for the visit to my blog and the follow and I am now following you too! Wow is all I can say about your paintings, I LOVE them. I used to paint in high school and my mom is a painter and I can say that your truly have a lot of talent. Each person is different and for the 1st teacher to tell you to copy her is not right. We are different people and have to have our own style! I'm glad that you found a different teacher to teach you. Someday I hope to get back to painting when I have more time! Take care and I look forward to getting to know you. Julie at

    1. Hi there Julie! Thank you for following me back and for the sweet comments. I wasn't able to get back to painting until my kids were in high school/ college. Then I finally had time.
      If you're interested, I post a lot more on my B Farm blog: It is more decor and crafting and about our little farm.

  7. Cecilia, your paintings are just beautiful. Thank you for your visit and sweet comment. I am your new follower. :)

    1. Thank you, Maria! I appreciate the sweet compliment and the follow!

  8. Your paintings are wonderful! You are so gifted!

    Thanks for stopping over!


  9. I feel like I've had a lesson in painting. your posts are fantastic and I really enjoyed seeing the progression of your work.