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Life and management lessons from the world of ART

Leadership lessons from the world of ART

I am sure all of us at some point in our childhood have dabbled with colors and made a mess of ourselves, our favorite whites as well as the house walls – vibrant colors that made us express ourselves freely without any hesitation. There were no rules or styles, just the flight of imagination and the sheer joy of creating colorful imagery. 

What made us stop playing with colors as we grew up? Why did become more conscious about every move we make and what others would say?

Now I must caution you that I am not an artist- I am really a novice as far as art is concerned, but the journey with colors has been exhilarating and liberating to say the least. This article is more about my own journey so far and my learning therein from the world of colors.

My tryst with art began when my elder son Ishir (he’s 14 yrs now) started showing interest in drawing a few years back and we made a conscious decision to enroll him into weekend art classes. His teacher was an artist of immense repute, painting on the Indian national circuit for some time and having the innate ability to connect with kids and help them discover the artist within themselves. During one of my weekend sojourn’s of dropping my son off to his art classes and waiting for his classes to get over, I walked into his class out of intrigue and was pleasantly surprised that I was not the only adult in the class. The class was a milieu of people across the age spectrum at different stages of learning. I took a decision at that moment to enroll for the classes – learning art together with my son seemed a good way to spend time together !!

That was my entry point into the world of art and what started as merely an attempt to paint, has now become a more intense hobby for me. More than a hobby or a creative outlet, I have realized over years that art has the power to shape the way we think and act and can be an immensely powerful medium to change a person. So here are some musings from the world of art and how they have changed the way I look at life :

Finding the problem (and not the solution) – Most of us are very solution-oriented. We jump at problems with the intent of solving them. However, what I have actually discovered is that art can actually help you find the problem in the first place, before you go on the solution finding mission. Sometimes despite your best efforts, the painting just doesn’t feel right – it’s not what you wanted it to be, the final effect is not what you intended and you have this great sense of unease that something is missing. It’s not very evident. Sometimes, I stare at a painting from different distances and angles for prolonged periods, which gives a different perspective every time and can help find the missing dimension. Sometimes, taking a break helps to put my thoughts together and I take a break to return with a different frame of mind. And sometimes, I take refuge within my near and dear ones and ask for their advice

Lesson – Don’t worry about solving a problem. First try to under the problem better using different perspectives, before attempting to solve it

Its OK to make mistakes - Every stroke of the brush creates a new effect. While in school, we were taught to be very careful about certain things – exactness of lines and shapes, coloring to be within borders etc. However, as I see today, it’s perfectly fine for some color to splash out, its OK not to adhere to strict forms or shapes and its OK to have random brush strokes. Each of these create a different visual impact, something unplanned but yet something which adds another dimension to the entire artwork. That’s why in recent times, I have ventured into the world of abstract art.

Lesson - It’s OK to make mistakes. There is no right or wrong in this world. Its all about perspective. Every so-called mistake also adds to your experience and life skills, so don’t be afraid to do something beyond the conventions

Balance and subtlety - While I did not study the color wheel so much when I began painting, over time, I did realize that there needs to be a balance in art – balance of colors, tone and texture. Sometimes, a small stroke of color in a corner of a painting can add the missing sense of balance. Same goes with life. Same with our personalities. If you study the wheel of life, you will realize that there needs to be a balance in difference dimensions in our lives – study, work, family, friends, society, health and so on. And adding that extra stroke in our life can create the missing balance overall. Sometimes, it might be a subtle change, but that itself can make a huge difference in the way people perceive us e.g. a subtle change in the way we talk to people can bring a totally different dimension of our personality on the forefront.

Lesson – Never underestimate the importance of balance and subtlety in our lives

End goals may change – Typically, as I begin to paint, I have a vague idea of what I want to paint and what it would look like. However, in some cases, the final painting is very different from what I originally envisioned. The beauty of this is that I have the full freedom to decide when the painting is complete. I have the freedom to decide the journey itself as the painting unfolds over time. And when I am happy and satisfied with the final effect, I call it completed (irrespective of what I had in mind originally). In life, we are sometimes very particular about goals and milestones. We don’t enjoy the journey as much as our focus is more on achieving the preset goals. That makes life fiercely competitive and like a rat race. Very seldom we let the goals be determined by the journey we undertake.  But imagine you started a road journey with some destination in mind, but wherever you end up is what you treat as your final destination – wouldn’t that give you a feeling of immense satisfaction and contentment?

Lesson – Wherever you are in life, its perfect and that’s where you are supposed to be. Enjoy the journey and don’t worry too much about the goals. You and only you have the power to decide the course of your life and where you want to be.

Hopefully you all enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this down. Want to end this by sharing some of my artwork below – do share your comments/feedback.


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