I remember the day as clearly as it were yesterday even though twenty years have passed…

“See the way light falls onto the subject. Do you see how the color changes its intensity with the impact of light?”

“But dad, why do I have to bother with it?”

“Because Precious, painting is a lot like writing. Just like you have to breathe emotion into your words, you have to breathe life into your paintings by understanding nuances. And the greatest painter is not one depicts a picture beautifully but, one who breathes life into it.”

“What is so important about shadows? It just darkens the object. All I have to do is add a dash of darkness to my drawing. See?? Nuisance understood! Come now daddy, surely you can teach me something more interesting??” And with that challenging statement, my tiny precocious minx ran away. I couldn’t argue with her simple approach. But it was vital that she understand the import of Shadows…

“Mia! Mia! Let’s see what you have to say about this.” My pixie’s eyes bulged with delight. A multitude of emotions washed her face. She loved analyzing my paintings.

She peered into the paper and looked back at me incredulously. Staring back at her were her own pictures with “”darkened”” portions of her face. Soft silhouettes, deeper shadows…the works.

“You transformed my face from happy to sad, pondering, wondering, dreaming! I want to be able to do that! Teach me! teach me!”

“Oh! Nothing much Mia, I just darkened the pictures. Its simple darker colors!”

My shamefaced little daughter looked back at me with her heart in her eyes, and I saw the faintest stirrings of understanding.

…Today, as I look at her paintings, one piece catches my eye. It’s the highlight of her collection. It’s a medley of portraits of an old man with “darkened” colors here and there, and it captures his emotions perfectly.


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