Life Lessons Art has Taught Me (Part 1)

There is no perfection. There is only the best I can do in this moment. Every piece of art that I have ever done could have been done in many different ways. Perfection is really just a prerequisite for procrastination. We know where procrastination leads – nowhere. We must do all we can with the skills that we have and then let it go.

Silence and alone time is the best time for new ideas. We live in a very noisy world with so many things pushing and pulling us that it can be hard to think. It can be hard to hear our own thoughts and separate trivialities from substance. Alone time is precious and can lead to our best ideas. I come up with some of my best ideas when I am alone and there are no distractions.

Patience is indeed a virtue. A piece of work may not always take the direction I want it to but I work through it and persevere until I have something I can be proud of. Patience is a sort of waiting game and sometimes waiting is not a bad thing.

Art has taught me to be more observant; to see more. I see spaces, lines, colours depth and how they are used and how they relate to each other. I have come to appreciate the spaces between as much as the focal point itself. I take this into other aspects of my life to listen more, to observe more and to be more present. Awareness enhances life.

Details matter. It is the details that make the big picture. Every shadow, every line, every colour, every space, everything matters to the whole.

How I Explain My Art

I usually explain my artworks to interested people by telling them my thoughts and intentions when I was creating the pieces. I tend not to definitively state that this is what it is because I want room for other views. My works for the most part have been described as contemplative and interpretive. In light of this, the work is really left up to the viewer’s interpretation and that is how I like it.

Acylics on Canvas

Shattered Continue reading

Art Chooses Me

I meet many people everyday who used to do some form of art. And they usually ask me how I keep doing art because for whatever reason they did not continue. I guess that they are really asking me about dedication, time or passion. And I guess that they assume that art, for me, is a choice.

It is not a choice. It is a calling. Art is constantly calling me to make something. It insistently wakes me up at nights, interrupts my days, and holds my mind and soul hostage with ideas that it wants me to translate to canvas. If there are other artist reading this, I know that they understand what I mean. They have experienced the constant gnawing, yearning, and need to create.

It is a kind of bitter sweet pursuit. There is the fulfillment of creation – bringing an idea from conception to fruition. But art is not food, at least not in the common sense. People need to eat, sleep and have a roof over their heads but they do not need art. If people do not have a piece of art, they will not die, again not in the normal sense. But what a drab, bland and utterly colourless existence people would have without it in their spaces and lives.

So while I am aware that it is difficult to succeed as an artist, it has no bearing on why I create. Creation for me is a means of survival. If I do not do it, I will die. If I do not give in to the urge, I will go mad. Paradoxically, I might go mad giving in to the urge but that is another story. My only point now is that making art is not a choice, when art chooses me.

People say things to me all the time like, you know you may not make any money from art until you are dead or you know there are few artists who make any money from art. I smile and nod. Noted. I don’t argue. There is some amount of truth to what they say and some amount of falsehood too. There are many living artists who are making a great living and there are many great artists who are not. But I don’t argue because I will have to explain that art is not a choice. Art chooses me.

Experiencing Art

Will be on show at the Ben Navaee Gallery September 20 - 29, 2013

Will be on show at the Ben Navaee Gallery September 20 – 29, 2013

Many people do not feel that they understand art. They feel intimidated by it and do not know how to interpret a piece that they come across. They also feel intimidated by most galleries with their highfalutin prices and unapproachable atmosphere. I wish people did not feel this way because art is fun and much of it is left up to your own interpretation. Art is an engaging activity that requires you to really look and experience a short story that is told in a composed, colourful and conceptual way. All of us can experience this.

I am going to use a piece that I did called “Shrouded” to explain my thoughts while I was doing it and to demonstrate that the viewer can have a totally different interpretation that is as good, if not better than what the artist intended.

The piece, shown above, depicts a woman, wearing a head scarf, who is hidden behind what appears to be bars. My thoughts as I was doing the piece was that there are a lot of us who are hidden behind something. This thing that we are hidden behind can bring us a sense of comfort, security and escape. We can have a feeling of protection and a sense of belonging within this shroud.

Paradoxically, we can also feel trapped, imprisoned and stifled by this very thing. All we want to do is escape from it.

That was the dichotomy present in my mind while creating this piece. I showed a picture of this painting to my friend Himanshu. He told me that the woman is a mystery woman who many have tried to get to know but cannot because of the impenetrable walls that she has put up. I thought that was a very insightful comment and interpretation. It was never something that I the artist had thought of but it fits right into the shrouded theme. How cool is that?

This ability to look, see, experience and interpret is not out of anyone’s reach. Take some time to experience a piece of art. When you get right down to it art is really an experience. You might be surprised to find that you can figure out more than you think you would all because you took the time to look.



Nature and Youth

I got lost in the woods once – in Tobermory to be exact. It had a happy ending but it was not a great feeling. I did learn some things about myself being lost at the Bruce Peninsula. I learnt that I got irritated and impatient with myself and others; I tended to think of the worse things like being mauled by a three hundred pound black bear and that even the most innocent sound and movement became ominous. Perhaps I knew these things about myself already. But placed in a heightened situation, we come face to face with who we are and perhaps who we want to be.

I also learnt other things too. Irritation and impatience will not get you found any faster; there are ways to combat fear like making noise to keep the bears away; and things will work out if you keep your head.

Nature can teach everyone something and this is true for teens and young adults. You do not have to be lost to learn from nature. It offers lessons without that added challenge. Today’s teens and young adults have many challenges and issues. Most of these issues have to do with self – meaning they are not necessarily external. There are issues of low self-esteem, anger, impatience etc. There are external things too – like peer pressure. Some of the things we do in nature is walk, hike, camp and fish. All of these require some amount of patience and the mindset to stick to the task at hand. They all take up time – sometimes large amounts of it. You have to find patience if you do not have it. But how does nature helps with other things? For one, it takes you away from the regular day – away from it all to take a step back. Maybe this will help you to view things with greater objectivity.

The distractions of every day life are stripped away and for the most part, you are left with yourself, vast open spaces and the quiet to think. Teens and young adults can think through their angst, peer pressure low self-esteem and whatever else they have going on in their lives. What are you going to to do about any of these issues?

If you do come across the challenges of being lost, confronting a bear, or even crossing a large body of water, how will you proceed? Your character is being called into play here. Stand and fight or take flight. Now you can choose to build that weak self-esteem, bolster your patience, channel your anger, feel the pressure of that situation and know that peer pressure will always be around you but in the end it is you who are going to give in or stand up.

Ultimately, any confrontation with nature is a confrontation with the self. Instinctively, you’ll respond from who you are but you can be guided by nature into responding differently.

Nature is a beautiful and challenging place to be and so is youth.



The Tragedy of Bullying

Bullying seems to be rampant these days. Was it always this way? Or is it given additional life with the advent of the internet? Whatever the cause, teens are being bullied to death. And if it’s not death, they are being bullied into serious ilnesses. The problem with serious illnesses is that they are not always evident on the outside. They gnaw and eat away at the insides. This is where fear, anxiety and stress reside – on the inside. And so, while not all teens are bullied to death; many are dying on the inside.

What exactly does it mean to be dying on the inside? We all know but place yourself in the shoes of a teenager. It means the fear of actually going to school; the anxiety of not knowing when the bully will strike; or maybe they do know when they will strike; and the sheer stress of all this. Let’s take into account that the bullied does not even have to see the bully any more. They don’t even have to know the bully. The bully can be faceless, nameless and anonymous. This is thanks to the internet.

It is challenging enough being a teen. The world seems to be ever changing. Their bodies are changing too and just about everything seems to be shifting. And all this is compounded with being beaten, abused, teased, terrorized and ridiculed. The bullied is not sure why this is happening. He/she is just a teen trying to find his/her way in this world. And every time the bullying happens, the bullied cries, is sad, is despondent and loses faith in a good outcome, loses faith in the world. And this is another kind of death – a real death- because in the despondency the bullied loses a bit of who he/she really is. This is what it means to be dying inside. Because to lose faith in the world, in basic humanity, is really tragic.

There is more tragedy. There’s obviously something seriously wrong with someone who finds joy in inflicting hurt on someone else. The bully has a lack and is in need of something. And his/her answer is bullying. It fills the void. He/she is also trying to make his/her way in the world. We have all asked the question: what goes on inside the mind of a bully? Why do they do what they do? Can’t they see the hurt that they are causing? Only the bully can adequately answer these questions. It is possible that the bully is also despondent and have no faith in the world or basic humanity. The one thing that seems certain is that just like the bullied, the bully is also dying inside.

The Teen Identity

Who am I and how do I fit into this world? This question is easy for some and hard for others. If you are a teen or a young adult, it may be even harder to answer. It is a time in one’s life where it can feel like the sand is always shifting under your feet. Your parents tell you one thing, your teachers another and, of course, your friends will tell you something completely different. So how do you figure it out?

I don’t have the answers, but I might have some suggestions. Whatever I write is never the answer to the question but an exploration of an issue. The one thing that I am sure of is that everybody’s got to figure out their identity and their place in this world by themselves. That is a difficult task for a teen especially when being pulled in many directions by different opinions.

Are you fat, skinny, bright, dunce, ugly, pretty, lazy or mediocre? Are you the future, or will you just exist in the future? Are you who your mother, teacher or friend say you are? Maybe something they say about you is true. But when all the talking and the noise have stopped and you stand alone, what is your sense of self? Who do you say you are?

If you have started to ask yourself those questions, you are way ahead of the crowd. Who you are is probably defined by the things that you hang on to when everything around you is changing. These are the things that are familiar and important to you.

I know that when I was a teen two of the things I loved were writing and art and guess what, they are still two of the most important things in my life. What are your most important things – the things that are familiar and provide you with a security blanket? Maybe you are a beautiful ballet dancer, a budding rock star, or a future journalist. Whatever it is, hold on to it. It is the star in you. And that’s what is going to get you through.

Stand your ground. And be safe in the knowledge that even though you may not know exactly who you are; you do have some things that you hold true and dear. You carry those things. They are within you.


Cliques are everywhere. In high school there would be one group here and another over there. There are connections, similarities and interests that bring a group together – that make them click. These connections usually make the group exclusive. And there is a certain mystery to exclusivity. There is a wall that others cannot break down. But as we all know most people want to fit in somewhere even if that’s not where they belong. Some cliques should be avoided. Continue reading

Made up Words and Acronyms

Made up Words and Acronyms

LOL. LMAO. That’s ridic. What’s ridic? Oh you mean ridiculous? So why didn’t you say so? Words are getting shorter and shorter it seems and if you are not in the know, you won’t have a clue as to what is being said. It’s a whole different language. But is it a language that you need to learn? Maybe not.

I think this started with texting. You can write more words and say more in a shorter time span but now it has taken over almost every aspect of everyday life. I can’t get an email or a note from someone without an acronym that I do not understand and to be honest I do not take correspondences with too many of these made up words seriously. I see these made up words and emoticons; I hit delete. I don’t have the time or patience to learn a new language that is not official yet. Will it be? I don’t know. Why say OMG when I can say Oh my gosh? Not as cool? Maybe not.

Maybe it’s not as cool but I hate having to break bad habits. Writing like that everyday can become a bad habit. You find yourself trying to spell ridiculous the right way and all you can come up with is ridic….., now what’s the rest of it?…..Mmmm maybe I’ll google it and hope that when I write ridic., google will spell the rest for me. Well that takes care of one word, how about the rest? Google is great but it will not think for you.

When I was ten, we spoke a made up language called gypsy. It was fun turning everyday words into something else. I think I can still speak it if I dig deep into my memory but it’s not as fun anymore. People outgrow things. Or do they? I kind of get it when young adults shorten words but I am not sure why everybody else does it. It can sound really strange when a grownup use abbreviated words and acronyms that a young adult would use. Everybody wants to be hip. Sometimes being hip can mean using full words and complete sentences at appropriate times and places. Made up acronyms are showing up in inappropriate places like resumes and job letters. You shouldn’t wonder why you didn’t receive that call for an interview.

There is a time and place for everything but bad habits are hard to break. Maybe we should all just write full words and sentences all the time. That’s a good habit that we need not break. Call me old-fashioned – really I am not. That’s just ridic. Pardon me, I mean ridiculous.