Revitalising Art

After a certain, very recent, enlightening experience, I decided to share a personal story about how art helped me get back on my feet. 

I have been rather down in the dumps for the past couple of months, due to various reasons,  leading to me being lethargic and lazy towards pretty much everything. I went through a major writer’s block during this period, which hit me hard because a writer’s block is possibly the worst thing that could happen to a writer, after probably a broken or paralysed arm, or losing one’s eyesight, maybe. But, anyway, in order to keep myself from brooding, I started concentrating on my assignments from college; I did more research than required, finished them way before the submission date (something I have never voluntarily done in all my twenty years till date), and started taking notes in class (when I wasn’t asleep). 

But none of that kept the pesky thoughts away. I would find myself  unconsciously drawn towards the darkness, and before I know it, I would be falling into the abyss. The harder I tried to stay away, the faster I fell. It was rather paradoxical and ironic, and very frustrating. 

Then, about a month ago, my art classes started. So, for three days a week, I would focus all of my energy on whatever my instructors told me to paint or draw, and I found that by the time I was done, I had exhausted all of my energy on my art and had none left to brood. 

 

My very first art work in class: a quick sketch of a vase.

  

A quick still-life sketch of a sculpture.

  

A quick still-life sketch of a plant. This one was slightly more difficult.

 
This became something I greatly looked forward to every week. The half hour walk to and from class further helped me channelise my energy, and by the time I got back home, I was physically and mentally exhausted, yet I felt oddly satisfied and accomplished. 

This became the beginning of my productivity. In college, I became more alert and focused, my writer’s block was cured (much to the joy of my avid followers), and I was able to focus my mind on whatever I was doing, no matter what the task, and keep it from wandering. 

Then began the painting portion of my classes. Truth be told, I prefer pencils and the like over paint because I have more control over the medium. But I have always loved painting, and the patience and perseverance that goes into reigning the free-flowing colours in and bringing them under control is something I find thrilling. Thus, learning how to coax the colours to mix and blend in just the right ways and do my bidding gave me a sense of control, which translated into other parts of my life: I found it easier to wake up and go to class, I took my course work more seriously, I tried to reign in my procrastinating ways–all in all, art had, once again, helped me pull myself out of the pit I had fallen into. Slowly but surely, I was getting out, and that was a source of inspiration in itself. 

 

A galaxy I painted as part of an assignment; we were supposed to paint something that described who we were.

  

My very first formal attempt at using watercolours.

  

Second attempt at using watercolours; a children’s book sort of theme.

 
Then came the new year, and I decided that my resolution for this year was to perfect the art of making lemonade using all the lemons life threw at me–and life rose right up to the challenge. Due to going on a psychology field trip this week, I was unable to attend my art classes, and I could instantly feel a sense of loss. I was already floundering, and considering all the things I ended up experiencing in just six days, I was afraid I would begin to relapse. I could feel the darkness creeping up behind me, and I knew running away would be to no avail; but, I was at an advantage this time around. I was no longer helpless and lost. I had the tools I needed to get my bearings straight. 

And thus, the moment classes ended on Saturday, I brought out my drawing book, I picked up my pencil, and I drew. I drew for several hours, till the sun had set and my neck was groaning from being hunched over my desk for so long, and when I finally sat back up, it was to the sight of a masterpiece. 

 

My best work till date; a sketch of a photograph of a classmate, taken by another classmate.

 
By the end of it, when I looked down at my blackened fingertips, I could feel the grin spreading across my face. I had done it. I had successfully climbed out of the pit and into the sunlight all on my own, my art acting as a guide and a cushion to fall back on every time I started to lose hope. 

Thus, my art revitalised me and effectively prevented me from falling into hopelessness. 

This may just seem like a heartfelt story to most, but to those who have suffered and found that one thing that has helped them realise themselves–to them, this is reality. And so, a friendly suggestion I have for my readers: whenever you feel your thoughts getting ahead of you, whenever you feel the darkness beckoning, find something that you can focus all of your energy on so that you can turn the negativity into something productive. Be it writing, drawing, reading, or even seemingly mundane things like cleaning the house, taking a walk in the park, or organising your bookshelf, find your anchor and set sail into the sunset and beyond! 

That’s all from me for now. 

Thank you for reading! And do let me know if you’ve ever had a similar experience in the comments below. 

 

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The Abstraction that is Art

Art is all-encompassing. Art is limitless. Art is abstract. Art holds true to the saying, ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.’

What one finds awe-inspiring may just be a mundane piece of junk to another. But, this abstract nature of art is what makes it the phenomenon that it is.

The ability to perceive as one wants to; to adventure deep into the depths of a piece of art, unique unto itself, and explore its various facets and dimensions is a luxury like none other.

A quote I strongly believe in and vehemently follow is: ‘Art is my reality’. This phrase explains the paradoxical nature of art so simply and completely that there is no need for further questioning.

A simple question to tap into your psyche and further your understanding: what is a dot? The immediate answer would be what we know and have been taught: a dot is the smallest, simplest mark or point visible to the naked eye. But, when we look up at the night sky, the billions of stars we see are all dots to us. That doesn’t change the fact that each of those stars is a humongous monstrosity several hundred times the size of the earth. If so, then what is a dot?

The answer: it’s all about perception.

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Art is about breaking down the walls of common sense and what is ‘known’ and building it back up in any which way we please. Like my art teacher says, one plus one does not equate to two. If it had to, then the two objects that are being added should be the exact same. But, that isn’t possible for most things in life. How can one apple plus another apple result in two apples when one apple is redder than the other or the other apple is juicier than the first. So, then, wouldn’t one plus one equate to anything but two?

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Even more fascinating is how closely both art and psychology are related to one another. There is such a thing as the Psychology of Colours. We witness this phenomenon on a daily basis in the advertisements on television, billboards and newspapers, posters, flyers, booklets, etc. Each colour has its own emotion attached to it. The same translates to art. If I want to show burning passion or ferocity, I would use a brilliant crimson; if I want to show isolation or depression, I would use different shades of blue; if I want to depict happiness and joy, I would use a vibrant yellow or orange. Each colour has both positive and negative emotions associated with it, depending on the hues and saturation used.

colour

This same basic principle can be used as a therapeutic tool in a slowly growing segment of psychology known as Art Therapy. By allowing the person freedom to use whatever colours or mediums they want, and depict whatever situation or emotion they want, psychologists tap into the subconscious and the psyche, and are able to assess and analyse specific psychological problems so as to facilitate the process of healing.

The foremost characteristic feature of Art Therapy is that it isn’t limited by age, gender, ethnicity, cultural background, geographical area, or even by a specific disorder. Art Therapy can be used from something as simple as a means to destress a person to something as complex as helping a rape survivor deal with trauma. Art Therapy is informal in the sense that it is done as something fun and enjoyable rather than as treatment. Even considering all of this, it is a field that is yet to be fully explored and is in its stages of infancy, which makes it all the more fascinating a field of study.

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Consider this: if art is limitless and psychology is boundless, then imagine the possibilities that would unfold by putting the two together.

Thus, Art allows us the opportunity to interpret anything as an abstraction of itself; to understand a law before breaking it, and to unlearn before you relearn. That is art.

The Art of Expression

As a writer, artist, and dreamer, I like to consider myself qualified enough to say that I have grasped the essence behind using art as a means of expression.

The Art of Expression

The Art of Expression

Expression, according to its official definition, is the action of making known one’s thoughts or feelings.

As a psychology and literature student, I have learnt that there are two main ways to express oneself: verbally and non-verbally.

We all know what verbal communication is. It is the process of using sounds and words to express one’s thoughts and feelings.

Non-verbal communication, on the other hand, involves various methods, starting with the basic hand gestures to the more complex usage of tools and objects in order to express ourselves.

We all know that we can only express ourselves to a certain extent via speech. This limit is further extended through writing and actions. Some simple and complex things are easily conveyed in the form of words or actions: saying “I love you” or hugging a person. But, most often than not, we aren’t fully able to express ourselves within the constraining framework of words or even actions. So, we find the need to look for a more viable means of expression.

And thus, we have art. The limitless nature of art is something so vast and all-encompassing that it has no boundaries to restrain us within. We are free to express ourselves in any way possible, without fearing that our feelings and thoughts haven’t been conveyed completely. There is nothing to keep us from communicating our thoughts and ideas using various media.

The most appealing characteristic feature of art, to me, is its non-confining perception. Tree.previewWhat might be a painting of a tree after autumn, when it has shed its leaves, to some, might be perceived as the transition of seasons, where the tree awaits the harsh winter-to-come, by others. The lone apple hanging from its branch might signify hope and reassurance that life still exists to some, while others might perceive it as the end of the cycle of one life while symbolic of the beginning of another.

A simple literary example would be the rather popular “The curtains were blue.” meme where a comparison is drawn between what the literature teacher thinks (“The curtains represent his immense depression and his lack of will to carry on”) to what the author actually meant (“The curtains were blue”). But, my point is the opposite of what the meme is trying to say. As one of my teachers said: “There is no right or wrong in art. There is just whether or not you are satisfied with your creation.” and that’s that.

Art allows the artist to express him or herself in a way that leaves them feeling accomplished at the fact that they were able to convey whatever they intended to convey. While the meaning of a creation might seem obvious to others, what makes art so amazing is the fact that each masterpiece is unique to its creator. Nobody else in the world understands the depth and meaning behind the piece of art.The artwork is like an extension of the artists themselves. Every person that sees it perceives it in whichever way they want to, and likes or dislikes it based on their perception of it, but this is rather irrelevant to the artist because they were able to successfully express what they wanted to.

It is the same feeling as when one confesses something that had been burdening them for a long time and feels the weight lifted off their chest. According to me, the satisfaction of having succeeded in expressing oneself is not proportional to how the piece of art is received. As long as I love my creation and am satisfied with how it has turned out, the reactions I get will have little effect on how I feel about my art.

And that, in my opinion, is the greatest form of expression. The ability to spill out and lay bare all of our thoughts, feelings, emotions and desires, and put them on display without feeling shameful or worried about how others will react is perhaps the greatest gift one can get.

To me, art is about the artist, not about anybody else. Our art is very literally the window into our soul, and the fact that we have a means of expressing ourselves so completely and unabashedly is why art can be such a viable form of therapy. Someone who has suffered great psychological trauma and is unable to express themselves overtly using words can turn to art as a therapeutic tool to heal.

Art Therapy is not limited by age, gender, culture, race, ethnicity, language, or even any form of illness or any other barrier, thus allowing the person to freely express themselves as they like. And that, according to me, is the greatest feature of art: its freedom of expression in every sense of the term.

The fact that art provides such endless possibilities to venture and explore its multi-faceted nature is proof that it will become one of the greatest tools that humans could possess, allowing room for boundless creativity and to explore oneself and the world.

Thus, in conclusion: art is one of the greatest forms of expression. If I haven’t convinced you yet, then I will stress on one of my previous points: there is no right and wrong in art. You don’t need talent to be an artist. All you need is an open and imaginative mind, the need to express yourself, and a blank canvas to go wild on (this could be an actual canvas, the sand at a beach, the face of a make-up client, the boring glass bowls at the back of your cupboard, a ratty old T-shirt, the corner of your textbook, or even your mind). And, of course, the pride of an artist.

That’s all from me for now.

Cheers, lovelies!

Hope you have an art-tastic week.

Just some of my inspirational text edits and artwork