What they didn’t Teach me in the Art School

The Real Reason I no longer paint

I love art.

Art is our life and art is life. Art is everything you see around you — the birds, the trees, the sun, the moon, the sea, the lake… All the colours are so beautiful in nature.

Art was the second option as a child for me. I was not let in’ to the music school. Someone suggested I go to an art school. I felt free in my art lessons. We used to listen to Queen on the vinyl and draw, paint, or work with ceramics. Those were carefree days when art lessons were just an activity after school. As Albert Einstein says in The World As I See It

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”

The School

The after school activity ended. I wanted to study art. I went to a real art school because I wanted to be an artist. I got into an art school that was prestigious by its name. It was a boarding school too.

Every kid who got in was placed in a specialty, for instance, graphics, sculpture, oil painting, textiles. I wanted to get into a graphic group but it was full. They placed me in the oil painting class. I hated it at first.

Then, I grew to love colours. I loved playing with colours on the canvas. It turned out I am an oil painter after all! I spent hours sketching and practising. I wasn’t one of those kids who painted since they were 5 or 6. I felt I had a lot of catching up to do. I put in the hours. I worked hard. I had good grades. One day it all gone down the drain.

We had tasks to do every semester. We had the creative, something compulsory, and something else we needed to paint. We had to attend all the classes of oil painting, sketching, drawing, water colours or whatever we were tasked in that semester. We all had normal subjects too like maths, literature, history, biography, geography and so on.

Only one discipline gave a chance to go wild. It was a creative task! We could come up with anything we liked. It’s where I thought I had the freedom to express myself freely. However, I didn’t know creativity had rules. The school told me you can only be creative within these parameters.

They had a set of rules within which we had to comply even in the creative task. That killed my desire to paint. I wanted my imagination to go wild and do whatever it needed. As Pablo Picasso said:

‘Everything you can imagine is real.’

After all, I followed all the other subjects to a tea and didn’t cross any creative lines. I felt I had the right to go wild in the creative. However, I couldn’t. They were the art school teaching boundaries in the creativity field.

That’s not how you teach a creative person. It totally killed my will to paint. In fact, it killed it so bad I hadn’t picked up a paintbrush in twenty years.

The Art

Being in an art school, I thought I can explore art and learn about it. Be free from rules and regulations, however, they didn’t do that at all. They did the opposite. We had many rules we had to follow. John Lehrer, says in his book Imagine: How Creativity Works

“In fact, the only way to remain creative over time — to not be undone by our expertise — is to experiment with ignorance, to stare at things we don’t fully understand.”

Creativity doesn’t have rules by definition. Creativity is free from any boxed in ideas and standards. I wouldn’t want to paint in a way that’s according to the rules!

There’s, however, painting by numbers. I don’t like painting by numbers. I always thought it’s a rubbish painting and it’s not actual painting. It’s popular right now to do that. You get a great picture at the end of it. But where’s your creativity?

Painting by numbers has positive effects on people but let’s not confuse it. It doesn’t fit in the creative category. Creativity doesn’t have boundaries and that’s what they didn’t teach me in the art school.

Painting is a feeling which is expressed in colours and brush strokes. Painting is dancing with colours that have no boundaries of any kind. If I had had an opportunity to explore my own creativity maybe today I’d be a painter. I said no to art and left it behind me. Leonardo Da Vinci said:

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”

I will always love art. Art is part of me. I feel art when I see it and when I paint it. The lessons I’ve learned are important. I wouldn’t be me without them. However, if I had been allowed to go wild with my creativity I’d be different now.

Maybe that’s why I am less willing to share truly personal things in my writing? Maybe it’s my ghost of the past? The ghost always whispering you cannot do this or that in my ear in my writing now…? Who knows..? However, the past belongs to the past. Right now the only certain thing is this minute of my life.

What they didn’t teach me in the art school I learned somewhere else. All the ‘nos’ made me who I am today. I have no regrets at all. Maybe one day I’ll pick up a paintbrush and paint again but who knows. We make choices in life. Whatever you decide to do, do it for the sake of love rather than anything else.

I hope all the set backs we go through made us better, smatter and kinder.

Love and light.

I am a writer who learned to code! I write about personal experiences within a humanist and global context. Find me on Twitter & Instagram @erikachaudhary

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