A few years ago I painted a baby nursery and posted about it here. I got to thinking about a simple lesson I'd meditated about as I painted, and I'm sharing it again because it's on my mind. It was a farm themed mural, and wasn't quite complete in these photos, but part of it included a tree.
Mind if I show the step by step process I took to paint it?
First, I started with the basic tree shape. I painted the trunk and branches, but didn’t add any detail to them because I knew that I’d be covering up most of the branches with leaves - so why fuss with them at this point?
The next step is to add the shadows. This is one of the most important parts of any scene, because without the shadows, everything looks too flat and lifeless. The dark green blobs of paint (FolkArt Olive Green) are place randomly over about 1/3 of the area...these will be the shadowy leaves in the background.
Next comes the mid-tone green (Folk Art Hauser Med. Green). This color is also painted in blobs, but I pay a little bit more attention to making the edges of the blobs with “leafy” shapes. This is kinda hard on bumpy walls - blast you, orange-peel texture!
The tree is starting to look pretty good, but now it needs light green leaves (FolkArt Hauser Green Light) to give it life. This color is painted on with more leafy, choppy strokes and gives the green blobs the illusion of real leaves. Adding selective “highlight” green (citron) on the top parts of clumps gives it life! You can see a couple of leaves I started with the citron. The contrast between the highlights and shadows is what makes the tree “pop!”
Painting the trunk is similar, in that, after basecoating with a medium brown, I lay down the shadow color - in long wavy streaks. Next comes a medium shade, followed by a highlighting golden tan. It is a simple technique that doesn’t look like much up close, but when you stand back.....that trunk has depth and dimension.
It’s funny how something like painting a tree can have deeper lessons that apply to real life. As I worked on those shadows, God was reminding me of the dark times He has allowed me to experience. I usually don’t appreciate them while they are happening, but when I stand back to take a look, I can see how those times have accentuated the other colors and experiences He has so skillfully worked in with His brush. Without those difficulties, it might be hard to fully appreciate the beauty He wants to bestow in me.
There is a richness to life that can only come when you've walked through some deep valleys and come out the other side.
Are you experiencing a dark time in your life?
It’s tempting to think that God has left you alone to flounder through it on your own, but listen - He is with you. Even though you may not see how He can possibly bring beauty from your ashes, remember that this is exactly what He does best. He is working, even in the most hopeless of situations, to do something good in spite of what you might see. He is painting a masterpiece that will amaze you when you stand back to see what He has finished.
Today's Small Thing is to appreciate the "shadows" - the difficulties - in your life.
Praise Him in spite of what you see right now....and trust that He will bring you through with flying colors. He is big enough to do something beautiful! Jesus says we should ask and keep on asking and to pray without ceasing.....so YES! ask Him to change things, but don't miss what He is doing right here and now - in the shadows. When you come out on the other side, you'll see vibrant colors and vivid highlights that will be all the more spectacular for the depth of faith He has wrought in you.
I'd love to hear how God has used the shadows in your life to create something beautiful. Do you have an experience to share that would encourage other readers?