Sketch of a lady painting

9 Brilliant Lessons Painting Taught Me About Life

Sketch of lady doing painting

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.

What Painting Teaches You About Life?

1. True Colours Come Out Only on a Dark Base

Blank canvas

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

canvas with sketch of tiger

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

Tiger painting with frame

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

colour Pallete

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

Painting of a tiger

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

Tiger painting

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

lady painting tiger

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

Tiger painting

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

lady painting

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.

To Summarise

Tiger painting

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.

If you like what I write and would like to be a part of my tribe, please do subscribe to my Newsletter.

This Is How Art Teaches Us Some Amazing Life Lessons


Other Life Lessons Posts

Rippy Gauba
Rippy Gauba

I am a working professional and a mom of 2 teen daughters. After having worked in the corporate world for 22 years, I am now a free-lance consultant specialising in project management. I am very passionate about spending quality time with my family, my pet CoCo, painting and blogging.

I write on Mindset, Motivation & Management. These are everyday, practical tips I picked up from my personal & professional life. These learnings have impacted my life as an individual, as a parent and as a working professional. I am sure these will be useful for you too and help create Ripples of change in your lives & that’s my intention.

Welcome Aboard!!

14 thoughts on “9 Brilliant Lessons Painting Taught Me About Life”

    1. Dear Dr Nithya, Thank you for your appreciation and I’m glad it resonated with you. Have a great day, and please do keep on sharing your valuable feedback on my blogs. I really look forward to that.

  1. Dr Minni Chadha

    WoW Ripps… never looked at art from these perspectives..
    I totally agree that once you are into making any project… you forget everything… time loses its relevance… it is that one stroke right & then the next one …trying to achieve the best we can….
    It is wonderfully therapeutic as you are emerged in your art 100% & forget all the physical & emotional issues happening in your life at that moment…
    When I was going through my Chemo, I distinctly remember you bringing in the art book & literally standing on my head, telling me to start drawing…which I hadn’t done since my school days…And what a blessing it turned out to be…
    Art became my escape route from all the pain..physical as well as emotional….my salvation…
    Can’t thank you enough for that….
    Your this painting is a MASTERPIECE… it’s absolutely breathtaking… the detailing is so incredibly perfect….it’s just too beautiful…
    So proud of you & your this new creative avatar
    God bless always

  2. This is absolutely a fantastic blend of art and expression. Beautifully portrayed thoughts in a lucid manner.There is a deep comprehension of human psychology evident in the article, which endears as much as it appeals!
    Keep writing, keep sharing

    1. Dear Bhabhi, Thank you so much for sharing your feedback. It really means a lot to me.  Have a great day, and please do keep on sharing your valuable feedback on my blogs. I really look forward to that. Have a good day!

  3. vishakha grover

    Beautifully sensed lessons and more beautifully expressed… Dear.
    Such intrigue observations…it’s so true that it really connects to life intricacies in the same way.
    It’s always a pleasure to read ur blog..one more amazing piece of information to add sweetness and richness of life:)
    Thanks for sharing….!!!
    Lotza love.
    Stay blessed!!!

    1. Dear Vishakha, Thank you for your lovely words of feedback on my blog, and I’m glad it resonated with you. Have a great day, and please do keep on sharing your valuable feedback on my blogs. I really look forward to that. Stay safe, and have a good day!

  4. Lokesh Chandra

    You are great at expression of your thought both through words and your art. Keep amazing people around.

  5. You have penned again beautifully and your painting is amazing..The topic chosen this time is very different and very interesting..
    Of all the points the 2 most important are 1. when to stop and 2. life gives chance to rectify your mistakes are correlated very well with your strokes. These are very important life lessons..

    Its always a pleasure reading your blog.. All my best wishes to you.

  6. Another fantastic piece of work…both literally and artistically.!!
    Its was amazing to see how we can see life from an artist’s eyes and still learn lessons for living life the right way..!!
    The way you have related your painting experiences with what we should practice in our day to day lives is absolutely praiseworthy.
    I make it a point that my 10 year old daughter also reads your blogs and i explain my 7 year old son the same in simple words…
    Thanks and looking forward for the next one…

    1. Dear Dr Vivek, Thank you for sharing your feedback and I’m really humbled by your words. 
      You sharing my blogs with your kids is a great testimony to what I write and thank you so much for this honour. Have a great day, and please do keep on sharing your valuable feedback on my blogs. I really look forward to that.

  7. Dr.Sweta Rastogi

    So beautifully written. I have never thought that painting could have so many great insights.. Extremely delighted to read this blog .. It reminded me of my school days when I would eagerly wait for the Art & Craft class once in a week. I admired my art teacher so much and I still do … Thank you reminding me of those wonderful days … Continue the good work as always ma’am ..

    1. Dear Dr Sweta,
       Thank you for sharing your feedback, and I’m glad it resonated with you.
      Yes, I remember Arts & craft class was such a happy class for us as kids. Don’t know why we forget to claim that happiness again as we grow older.
      We really do require this all the more with the increasingly stressful lifestyle. Have a great day, and please do keep on sharing your valuable feedback on my blogs. I really look forward to that.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *