Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.
Life is a collection of thousands of small efforts. Some moments are the outcome to our choices and others—well, they just happen. French Post Impressionist painter, Georges Seurat completed his painting A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte in 1886. This painting kind of makes me think of a blank canvas representing an individual’s life. We each have the priveledge to design our own life. Every decision that we make, each moment we encounter is a dot on our canvas.
What is pointilism? Gardner’s Art Through The Ages, Volume II by Fred S. Kleiner describes pointilism as a system of painting devised by the 19th-century French Painter Georges Seurat. The artist separates color into its component parts and then applies the component colors to the canvas in tiny dots (points). The image becomes comprehesible only from a distance, when the viewers eye optically blends the pigment dots.
Life is full of sooooo many moments. Its unbelievable. To me, so many of my experiences seem like lifetimes-agos. There have been so many times that I’ve tried and failed. So many books that I’ve read or movies I’ve seem that seem pointless, or a waste of time. And there have been times that Ive worked really hard and a achieved a successful outcome. Where do these things lead? Sometimes it feels like they are leading nowhere. These moments may seem so small but we have to remember, The small things add up. Reaching for success feels like a far away land for many of us, like me. This makes some people not want to try it at all. The work you put in may not seem like as much, but remember the big picture. The small things contribute to the whole of your work.
Right now, at this moment, it is tough to see your full masterpiece. We have an idea of our future, but do we know exactly what will happen? Nope, it’s a little bit of a blur. We have a past, but we can’t take a time machine back to re-live our younger days, so our memories are sort of unclear too. Each moment in our life seems like its our whole world at the time. After it passes we realize how small that moment really was.
Have you seen this painting that George made? If you are not familiar with A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte, please take a moment to look it over. Here it is Click Here. This painting is incredible. Who could have possibly created an entire world on a 6’9″ x 10′ canvas, made entirely of dots!? From 1884-1886, in only 2 years!? Mr. Seurat, thats who.
Look at the dots on this canvas. There are so many! Look at all of the variations of yellows, reds and blues. Seurat had to decide which color to put where. What if each choice we made was a dot represented on our canvas! What if each significant collection of dots, like the people on La Grande Jatte, represented a phase in our life? This canvas is someone’s life. Whose life is it? This person’s life as a whole was beautiful they experienced hardships and joy enough of a balance to leave a silent masterpiece.
Do you see the little girl in the center. She is so innocent, she is protected by the collection of warm and loving colors of her mother. Dressed in pure white, she is the center of the cavas, as we are the center of our own world. She hasn’t been tainted by the dark atrocities of society yet. You can see a little blue on her, on the under shading of her hat. These dots are from her tears, they aren’t very vibrant or extreme because she is young and protected. Maybe those moments are times when she was a little hungry, or she bumped her head on the corner of the table. Nothing too crazy. The mother next to her is full of warmth. She is dressed in warm, lovey, oranges and pinks. Here they are stroling in sunlight. The bond between the mother and daughter… There is a little dark shadow casting off the right side of them because sometimes-lets face it, mother’s and daughters fight.
Seurat’s painting has energetic splashes of red values. Each and every warm dot is a smile, a dance party, a laugh, our favorite past time and every other enjoyable occasion. The mass of them—the actual collected form are all of our happy moments put together. The warm people are scattered through out the painting because we love those moments and we like to keep them in our thoughts, no matter where we are. Except for that man to the left of the little innocent girl. He has an umbrella over his head. His cluster of colors are orange and blue. That man is the guy representing the night that I drank too much coffee liquer. I have mixed emotions about that night. I didn’t realize the strength of the drink. I will spare the details, you can imagine how it evolved. I absolutely loved that night, I love to laugh about it with the friends that were there with me. Thinking of those moments give me a warm happy feeling. Except at the time it was kinda and messy. So the orange and blue guy is both warm and cool, hes happy and a wreck. He has mixed emotions.
As we get older we experience life. For some reason the dark moments just pile up into a corner. Do you know what I’m talking about? Like the time Grandmama died. She was energetic strong, confident, funny, classy, she wore the same hair style everyday since I can remember and had a closet full of Keds and Coach purses.. and… she was a little wrinkly. When she died I didn’t know what to think. I was 23. I had no control over that moment, it just happened. She was so old—but so lively, who would have thought she would actually die. These memories are represented through the concoction that create the black shirt of the woman to the right. The ladies blue dress is foreshadowing Grandmama’s death, it represents the times that occurred thoughout those blue and dreary months beforehand, when I instinctively felt something was wrong with Grandmama’s health, but she refused to admit it. I like to set those thoughts aside.
R. Collier said “Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.” The juxtaposition of the dark and dreary colors on the painting emphasize the beauty of the light colors. These dark moments allow us to apprecaite the wonderful moments of life so much more. In spring of 2010, I took a class on oil painting. On the contrary to this weeks topic, we did not practice pointillism over the semester. However my professor was full of great philosphies. He described the process of painting to me as a process that gets worse before it gets better. He said that when you start a painting it looks great, you’re roughly sketching and working out the planes and shapes of where everything belongs. As you go further into the work, it starts to look kind of funny. Maybe there is a line in the wrong place and we have to go back into it and adjust it, or maybe we can’t quite get the color right and we have to keep trying. This form of trial and error, along with pointilism—this is life. Sometimes things are going great. We are on top of the world and nothing could be better, we are full of flying colors. Other times, they aren’t so hot, the colors turn sour. When our canvas starts to look funny we just have to get back in there and work out the dots in until we can successfully bring out the beauty again.
Seurat painted a quiet scene full of people on a Sunday afternoon. What design will be on your canvas when you are done?