Great art is creative and free, yet seven elements are present in each piece. At any age, your life is also a work of art, and in order to understand what that means, let’s look at it through the lens of these seven art elements.
A line is a narrow mark that is longer than it is wide and can be straight or curved. The years in our journey through life mirror this definition. As the decades roll by, life takes many twists and turns, it seems to go on forever. From the world of math, a line has a beginning and an end, and so in comparison to the history of the world, our lives are really a rather short line segment. The trick is to celebrate when the line soars, as well as when it moves horizontally. The older we are, the more potential we have for interesting twists and turns. Love all these lines and learn from them.
A shape is a closed line. The Ancient Celtic people loved circles. In the design of my book, You are the Perfect Age, circles are used to symbolize the wholeness of each woman. Two other shapes are the square that gives a feeling of strength, and a triangle that leads our eyes upward. Our bodies are described as shapes: pear, oval, flat, angular. Discussing shape reminds us that the physical ‘shape’ we’re in is part hereditary, part environment and a big part a result of the choices we’ve been making. The good news is, we are a work in progress—changes are possible.
Form is a three-demential shape. That certainly fits us! Not only do we have length and width, but depth as well. Our bodies are physical homes to the soul, making it possible to be an individual living on Earth. Through aging we become more interesting, and more multi-dimensional. We have the opportunity to grow through reflecting on the role models we imitate, the heartaches we survived, and a thousand life lessons.
Space is the area between and around objects. We need space in myriad ways. Poetry is a blend of words and silence. At any age, we need a balance of rest and activity, being alone and being with people, nature and civilization, being quiet and speaking out. It’s even healthy for a couple or close friends to spend time apart, creating space for their individuality.
Texture is the part of the painting that can be seen and felt. It might be rough or smooth, hard or soft. I talked with two artists who said that creating texture is a bit tricky. Some artists avoid this element because it can cause problems. As humans, I imagine texture as the grit we gain from overcoming obstacles. The ‘bad’ habits or events of our lives can destroy us—as a fire—or we can be refined by them. Some may look at the quirky parts of us as flaws, but on the other hand, they make us real and lovable humans, especially when we’re honest enough to acknowledge them. Accepting our contradictions and changing what we don’t like is the essence of an artistic life.
Color expresses emotions, moods, and brings life to the visual artist’s story. I remember when the Iowa Hawkeyes painted their opponent’s locker room pink in order ‘soften’ their opponents’ resolve. We color our hair, wear colored clothing to bring out our eyes; even our voices have color. The art of life is the ability to change one’s attitude; to love and accept the colors we cannot change and change the ones we can.
Value refers to the lightness or darkness of a color. We use the word value when it comes to black and white photographs, as they are actually many shades of gray. When you meet someone face to face, you get to experience the value, within and around them, by looking into their eyes.
These 7 elements make up who we are. At every perfect age, we are ultimately responsible for the elements we blend into our lives. We also have the opportunity and the responsibility to uplift, encourage and cheer each other forward. We all win when we perceive each person’s age as a reflection of a precious and rare journey— a work of art.