As an art student, I am fascinated by the number of layers that go into an acrylic painting. There are three layers of creamy white gesso, followed by a colored ground, an under painting, and then multiple layers of beautiful color. Some layers are opaque, while others are extremely transparent. Our eyes see the finished piece, but we can only speculate on the hidden layers that lie beneath. All of those unique layers are important, and they come together harmoniously to create the final painting. Change one layer, and you change the work.
Our layers are what shape and define us, too. Countless layers accumulate over the years–layers of failure and success, strength and weakness, love and loss. We readily let others see our transparent layers, rich with passionate purples, outgoing oranges, and generous greens, but we bury other more personal layers under thick globs of opaque paint. The sterling qualities shine through, but the burgundy blemishes and indigo insecurities often remain hidden.
As we grow more comfortable with someone, we tend to become more transparent, revealing the secret colors of our underlying layers. While we are tempted to conceal some of our most esoteric layers, we have to realize that all of our colors come together to create who we truly are. So the next time you are studying paintings, or people, remember that there is always more to them than meets the eye.
“Old Friends” black and white still life in acrylic–a work in progress–eight layers and counting!!