Blueberries - Bright Rays of Sunshine

Blueberries - Bright Rays of Sunshine

I was never very artsy when I was growing up. I always wanted to draw, but when I would try I couldn’t get what would come out of my hand to match the image in my head. It was pretty frustrating for this perfectionist. After college and earning an engineering degree, I moved to a pretty artistic community and I decided I would finally take an art class. I actually took several, trying various mediums. Oil, acrylic, watercolor…I tried them all. My first instructor who taught the oils class, took my tiny brushes away from me and hollered at me for trying to get such precise details. “Bah! Forget these little brushes!", she exclaimed in her thick accent. "Big brushes! You should use big strokes and not paint these little, itty-bitty lines!” 

Hard to Let Go

She made me look at an object (in this case it was a pear), only concentrating on each square inch at a time and painting what I saw. If it was dark, then paint dark and if it was light, then paint light. Then move on to the next square until the scene unfolded on paper in front of me. It was hard to not control the details and get them just right. But in the process, I learned to let go and not be bothered if things weren’t perfect. In learning to paint the fruit that I saw, I actually saw more. I observed more and took away the overall feeling that something gave me instead of getting lost in the details. I not only became a better artist, but a better observer.

A Star is Born

I may have first started with drawing pears, but this area of West Michigan is know for it’s blueberries, so it was pretty natural to start drawing their fruits and flowers. I love how you can see how each berry is uniquely shaped when you study them closely. How the color and shading varies across a berry’s skin and how the blossom end of each berry forms a distinctive star shape. This is also called the calyx of the berry and indigenous tribes called blueberries star berries for this reason. 

Bright Ray of Sunshine

I know this isn’t the typical time of year for blueberries, but because they are a great reminder of our warm summer months, I think it’s a perfect time to enjoy them. The son of a friend of ours picks and delivers them each August and I gladly buy 20 pounds of these sweet little jewels to eat throughout the year. They are a bright ray of sunshine in the middle of these grey winter days. So maybe we all need more blueberries in our life to get us through this winter and learn to lean into these winter months, observing the good things about this season and each day.
Jennifer Smelker

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