Lessons That Art Has Taught Me
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Lessons That Art Has Taught Me

It is more than just smudges and blocking, you know?

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An explosion of paint colors against a black background from left to right: a bit of green, then yellow, a lot of pink, and then a sky blue at the right

When it comes to art, in terms of education, they are quite underrated, since art programs tend to get the short stick in the face of budget cuts. Sure, a parent or a child may ask how learning how to draw or play the recorder could apply to the "real world", but the question can easily be applied to learning the hypotenuse in math class, or memorizing a poem in English class.

But each of these things, art especially, leave real-life lessons that can be applied to almost anything. Whether you are playing the violin, painting, performing ballet or reciting a monologue in an empty stage, these are the things artists learn, that may not have anything to do with art, but have everything to do with how they see the world around them, and their reactions and ambitions within it.

So, without further ado, in no particular order, let's begin.

1. Be patient.

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While I did say this list is in no particular order, this lesson is definitely one of the most important to learn. We are inundated with images and sounds of perfection every day, especially in social media platforms like Instagram or Tiktok. But the truth of the matter is, such talent and elegance displayed in these artforms take time.

Let me say this one more time: ART!! TAKES!! TIME!!

It takes A LOT of time for someone to be able to master these art forms or to create something. It can take weeks for a pianist to practice a challenging piece. A single painting or drawing can take several hours (or in the case of Leonardo da Vinci, roughly around 20 years). All forms of animations take several weeks to complete, since multiple frames are drawn out to show motion within a single second. Moreover, actors practice their lines in and out of rehearsals just so they are ready when the spotlight shines on them on Opening Night.

So thus, be patient. With your artwork, and with yourself. You may not be great yet, but you will get there one day.

2. Be adaptable.

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Sometimes, I would watch an old Bob Ross video where whenever a mistake was made, he would calmly call them "happy little accidents" as he painted. The same can be said of anything that doesn't necessarily go into plan, or end up the way you had pictured them. Life can be pretty unpredictable, and even when one has done everything right, things can still go wrong.

Still, this is not to cause anyone despair. Dreams can change, and humans are quite adept at changing with the tides. Thus, whenever things go awry, or things don't work out, change gears. Roll with the punches. The best thing may be coming down the road soon.

3. Pay attention to details

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This is something that can be used quite often in many different art forms. The details within an artwork are often the most complimented on, since it shows how much love and attention that was put within the work. A painter or artist makes sure that the proportions and little details of their subject are precise. Musicians and singers keep in track of all the runs and rests and staccatos to nail within a single piece. Actors are sensitive to the beats and dynamics within their character's lines and monologues, bringing each word meaning, emotion, and even images, to the audience.

The same mindset can be applied elsewhere as well. When talking to someone, we pay attention to their body language as well as their words, and see what they are really saying. Whenever we are talking about someone we love or hate, we often focus and remember the little details that the subject may or may not be aware of (i.e., the way they blush whenever they're shy, the way they bite their pencil when lost in thought, the way they tuck their hair behind their ears, etc.). And whenever we do tasks, we try to make sure every single aspect of it is complete, and exemplary enough to show others. When presenting evidence to an argument, every single detail matters, especially when the opponent can--and will--use it against you.

Pay attention to details. They can mean a lot to someone.

4. Perfect is the enemy of the good

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Like some parents may be with their children, we all have high expectations for the things we do. This is especially true for artists, who can always find a flaw in their work, trying to make it perfect. There is also pressure in being "original", in trying to find an original voice. Artists and writers both suffer from this.

Whatever the case may be, artists, and most people whenever they are pursuing their goals, end up self-sabotaging themselves in pursuit of being perfect, a standard that is slippery and unrealistic, often ending up with burnout, anxiety, and at times, unhealthy coping mechanisms. Thus, artists and others must let go of the concept of pursuing perfection. Not all endeavors are going to be successful, and that's okay. Just learn from the experience, dust yourself off, and try again.

5. Be open-minded

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There is more than one way to create art, just like there is more than one discipline of art to choose from.

The point is not to be static. As artists, and as humans, we must always be ready to grow and change, not just to keep up with the times, but just for the sake of trying something new. If not, it can get a bit dull and overdone, like a gum gone stale.

There is always a bigger mountain to climb, always something that lies undiscovered or unheard of. There may be new ways of thinking that can challenge the status quo for the good of others. The possibilities are endless, and out there, which makes life so much more stimulating and exciting for all minds and hearts everywhere.

6. Keep going

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I get it. Creating art is tough. It is already a universal truth that most people who pursue artistic careers do not get paid as much as those who become doctors or lawyers. Much of the physical and emotional labor that goes into these passions are often dismissed as a "hobby", and can be exploited by big corporations as they see fit.

And also, life is tough. Accidents and misfortunes can come out of nowhere, whether you got laid off, or in a severe medical crisis, or your relationship is failing, etc. The things that we take for granted can disappear from us in a blink of an eye. The past two years is the most recent example of these things being true. It can all be overwhelming at times, and the problems we face may seem draconian and unbeatable.

Still, it is as human to create art as it is to strive for our desires, to overcome obstacles, no matter how many times we fall. Just as we have to be patient, adaptable, realistic, detail-oriented, and open-minded, we have to be resilient and unflagging with hope. We, artists or not, have to find ways to keep our inner fires burning steadily as we struggle and conquer the odds given to us. The arbitrary difficulties handed to us may have no reason or rhyme, but we still keep going anyway, because the end is always worth it.

7. Enjoy the journey

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While the end is worth the journey, don't forget to enjoy the process as well. Marvel at every curve and line as it forms something beautiful. Watch all the elements of a film or a symphony come together over months or years. The creation of art is not a sprint, but a marathon. It's the same in realms outside of art, and just as important to know when creating businesses, raising a child, or even cleaning a messy place. Each project is in for the long game, and to make the results worth retrying, trust that the process is worth the time, the efforts, and the care that you bring to this.

And this concludes the list of lessons art has taught me. I hope it has taught you all something special too.

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