A few weekends ago, I had a yearning to paint something. Trust me when I tell you, I AM NO PAINTER, but my dear mom in law gifted me with some canvasses and paint brushes with encouragement to create something. She is a very talented artist and I feel like an awkward student around her.
This is the first painting that I had ZERO direction on. It was all trial and error. Once I looked back on the process and the finished product, it made me realize how life is very much like a painting at least it is very much like the one I have created:
At first, when you look at it, it seems to be simple brush strokes of vibrancy. It represents the start of the life of the painting. It could also represent the start of my own life- there are awkward strokes, bright strokes, but if you look close, you can see the grey, the white and even the black strokes. You can also tell that it was painted, and then painted again, and again, trying to improve it and hide the darkness. The background is the foundation. Poetically, it is very similar to how my life as a child was; many dark and gloomy areas, but I smoothed them all over with brightness and hope.
The Stems of the Flowers:
These represent growth. It was difficult to figure out how to fit them into the background, and I changed their placement a few times. I even had to retrace and change the darkness to reflect some light. Growth for me was challenging, just as the stems of the flowers were.
I see the petals of the flowers as Time. Each tiny petal means small steps in life, and the larger ones were my milestones. You can see that the large ones were painted and painted over and over, creating a thick layer. All of my milestones; parenthood, marriage, divorce, education, career- every single huge step, has multi-layers of emotional, spiritual and intellectual growth. They are full of mistakes that have been fixed, but they are still there, under the top coat. The layers that are hidden underneath are reminders of how to not repeat mistakes, to fix what I can, and to enjoy the end results. There are highlights and low lights intertwined to add detail, but also to reflect how milestones come with darkness and light.
The jar represents home. It holds everything I have worked for to this point in my life. It is the constant that carries my load and the one thing that I can rely on at the end of the day. It may be transparent, but that is because I have nothing to hide. Ironically, it was the easiest part of the entire painting to create. It has some varied stroke directions and it’s not exactly to scale and has flaws, but damn it, it serves its purpose and it cradles me through my crazy life. My actual home is the same. It’s surrounded by windows, it has its own beauty, but also has its own style and flaws.
Any artist, who is talented at acrylics, could look at this painting in horror and see all of the flaws in it. Sometimes, just like life, I wish I could get rid of it, get out a new canvas, and begin all over again. (Wouldn’t it be great if life was like that?) I have to resist the urge to be concerned with how others see my painting. If they don’t like it, they can move along. I worked hard and I learned from it. That’s all that matters to me. Like my life, some may look at me with judgement and give me pointers on how to improve. I am always up for learning to improve, but I won’t tolerate haters.
My painting is hanging on my wall at home. Not because of its beauty, or perfection. It hangs to remind me of all of the steps I have taken in life, to get where I am today. It is a clear image of how you can make mistakes along the way. You can work to rebuild, even with all the errors in the past. You can incorporate struggles and sadness into the layers of your life, and learn from them. You can admire the darkness from afar, but only see them as part of the beauty of your background and the effect it has on the big picture. In the end, the result is that you become thicker, stronger and tough to penetrate. You learn, for the future to not make the same mistakes, and you allow yourself to see all of the hard work and determination you have put into yourself, even if it’s far from perfect. Your next one will be THAT much better, because of the lessons you learned along the way. This painting and life are far from perfect, but with more drive, ambition and learning, I will become more comfortable and see positive changes, as my reward.
The damage from past mistakes will always remain, but the corrective brush strokes will allow you to move forward.
This was the first attempt I have ever made, to learn how to paint without any assistance. Like it or not, it will stay on my wall to make me remember how my independence has grown and how to know that I am “okay”, and I will work toward being better.
This painting has taught me more than how to make something pretty out of some colors and a few brushstrokes. It has taught me how profound the process and the journey really are.
The embedded flaws remind me to stay humble, to make changes, and to BE HAPPY.