9 Amazing Lessons That Prove That Art Imitates Life
Many of us have explored our creative side during the last 1.5 years .. some as a form of healing, others as a medium to express our feelings. Creativity is the process of creating something original or inspired. When we create something, all our senses are focused on that process, and we are completely engulfed in that flow.
My creative journey started with painting and writing last year, and since then, I have not looked back. Its been a beautiful journey of self-discovery and self-care, especially during these stressful times. Read more about this in my blog 7 Reasons Why It’s Important To Be Creative.
For all those who practise art, it is a therapeutic experience. When we put in all our energy to do any activity that we love, we temporarily forget our pain, emotional or physical. Our only focus is the output we are working towards. Therefore there is a respite from all the frustration or discomfort that pain may be causing. And if we repeat this behaviour, we will train our mind to ignore or put the pain behind us while we create.
As an amateur artist, I love painting and have created about 20 pieces on a small canvas. But I had always dreamt of creating a bigger and more complex piece.
I finally started my ambitious project in February this year and completed it in May. However, it took me 3 months to complete my dream painting. When I started, I was not sure if I would complete this piece as it had a lot of intricate work and required patience and perseverance. But thanks to my art mentor, I was able to accomplish this.
As I was slowly but diligently working on this painting, I realised that I was not only learning about the painting techniques, but also how these techniques are actually lessons that can be applied in our lives. Interesting, isnt it?
So here are my learnings from an oil painting that can be applied on our canvas of life.
- 9 Amazing Lessons That Prove That Art Imitates Life
- What Painting Teaches You About Life?
- 1. True Colours Come Out Only on a Dark Base
- 2. Eat an Elephant One Bite at a Time
- 3. Create a Framework and Boundaries
- 4. Squint Your Eyes To See the Myriad Of Colours
- 5. Go With the Flow and Have Faith- Things Will Fall in Place
- 6. A Matter of Perspectives
- 7. Rome Was Not Built in a Day
- 8. Improve Upon Your Mistakes
- 9. Know When To Stop
- To Summarise
- This Is How Art Teaches Us Some Amazing Life Lessons
- Other Life Lessons Posts
What Painting Teaches You About Life?
1. True Colours Come Out Only on a Dark Base
We started with painting the white canvas with Burnt Umber (brown) as a base. A base colour is necessary because the colours appear brighter on a white base. In addition, giving a base reflects the true depth and shade of the colours.
Lesson learnt – This is so true for life as well. When all is bright and nice, we see the best version of people around us. It is only during difficult or tough times, the true colours of people are revealed.
2. Eat an Elephant One Bite at a Time
The next step was to draw the tiger. I was petrified as I am not very good at sketching and tracing such a big picture was not feasible. But my mentor had a solution. We placed the picture in a grid and broke it down. Then, I created the same grid on the canvas and drew the picture one square at a time.
Lesson learnt – There is a proverb ” Eat An Elephant One Bite At A Time”. But most of us want to eat the whole elephant, and the result is disastrous & demotivating. The same is the case with any problem or task we have on hand
Let’s break our problems or a task down into simpler actionable steps. And then work upon these one by one to achieve the desired output. Sound doable, right?
3. Create a Framework and Boundaries
I started painting the tiger’s frame first. These defined boundaries helped me earmark areas for different shades of fur and helped with the colour scheme for the tiger and the background.
Lesson learnt– It’s always good to set boundaries and a framework, whether it’s a task or a relationship. This gives us clarity of our areas of influence and makes the efforts more productive, thus giving a desirable result.
4. Squint Your Eyes To See the Myriad Of Colours
This was my mentor’s favourite line. She used to say, squint your eyes to see the various colours in the reference picture. At first, I could honestly see only a couple of shades of brown or white. But as I trained my eyes, I could see so many different shades. Every shade gave a different dimension to our muse and made it more real.
Lesson learnt– If I apply this learning to humans, multiple complex layers of human emotions determine a person’s nature & behaviours. What we see on the outside is a manifestation of all these emotions. So if we really want to know a person deeply, we need to take the effort to squint our ”mind” and go beneath these layers.
5. Go With the Flow and Have Faith- Things Will Fall in Place
Finally, the day came when we had to do the eyes. The eyes are something that could make or break the painting. I remember putting in multiple colours as instructed by my mentor. It was not making sense at that point in time, but she kept on saying, put the colours, they will all come together at the end – don’t worry. She obviously knew more than I did, and I trusted her completely. The result is for all to see.
Lesson learnt- Sometimes, you need to go with the flow and trust your instincts or, like in my case, trust your trainer. Things may not make sense then, but have faith and keep moving on the path chosen.
6. A Matter of Perspectives
After doing about 20 paintings last year, I have learnt that we should look at any painting at a distance to get the right perspective. But when we are making a painting, we are working up so close that we tend to get lost. So it is always good to step back while painting and look at it from a distance to capture any nuances or improvements.
Lesson learnt– So true with life as well. Sometimes, while doing our tasks, we feel we are losing perspective, or the task is not making us happy. In that case, pause, step back and look at it from a distance. Is this what you wanted to do? Does it fulfil your life purpose? If your answer is not satisfactory, change course.
7. Rome Was Not Built in a Day
So is the case with my painting. It took me three months to finish this painting. When I showed the reference picture to my mentor, the only things she told me was that I need to have a lot of patience to paint this.
So I knew what I was getting into, and there were days when I felt maybe this was too ambitious a project for me. That’s when I probably tried to hurry up and was again reminded by her that I need to slow down and work patiently. These things cannot be hurried if we want the desired effect. Plus, with oil, you need to give time for one layer to dry before you can put another one.
Therefore I kept at it , one stroke at a time, one layer at a time.
Lesson learnt- Patience and perseverance will always lead you to your goal, assuming you have the right technical know-how.
8. Improve Upon Your Mistakes
Oil Painting as a medium is very forgiving. You can make a mistake and alter it the next time. Like we did, we changed the background shade from green to grey but felt that green was better. So we reverted to a green with hints of grey. I could also rework my tiger’s fur lines if they were not giving the desired impact.
Lesson learnt- Life also gives us many opportunities to make amends, provided we realise and accept our mistakes and are willing to work upon them.
9. Know When To Stop
This is every artist’s dilemma. You fall in love with your creation so much that you want to keep on improving on it. The same happened to me. Every time I looked at the almost finished product, I felt I could probably add some more fur or highlight the nose a little bit. I could not look at the painting without thinking of something more to do. I finally decided to stop before my painting became my obsession.
Lesson learnt– Sometimes in life, we need to learn when to stop and let go. We keep hanging on to our thoughts, experiences, possessions way beyond the time they continue to serve us. They become our obsession and can lead to undesirable or negative consequences. Learn to let go.
I believe that any task or activity that we do can help us learn so many important aspects of life, provided we are willing to learn beyond the obvious. So whether it is baking a cake, doing yoga or painting on canvas, give in yourself completely and seek the abundance in the process itself rather than the end product.
As I put up this painting in my living room, it will continue to remind me of all these life lessons. And it all started with pushing myself outside my comfort zone and trying something new.
I hope you find your life lessons in any activity you do. If you like my blog, please do share with your friends and family.
Thank you to my mentor Nikhila for her guidance.
A big thanks to my sister Dr. Minni Chadha for the artwork on the blog header.
This artwork is inspired by original artwork by Sushma Yadav.
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This Is How Art Teaches Us Some Amazing Life Lessons
Other Life Lessons Posts