Last night, I attempted something I had never done before; painting.

Painting is one of those things that looks easy when you’re watching others do it, but will teach you a valuable lesson when you attempt it. Walking in to attempt my first piece, I had visions of being the next Leonardo Da Vinci or Jean-Michel Basquiat.

I looked at their work all day and watched YouTube videos on how to paint. In my mind, I was going to be great.

Hours after I picked up the brush for the first time, I realized I was no Basquiat. While I learned that my art may never grace the walls of the Louvre next to Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”, Jacques-Louis David’s “Oath of the Horatii,” or Rembrandt’s, “Supper at Emmaus,” I also learned a few lessons that we can all learn from and apply to our lives.

Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things

Too often in life we think that all the “fun and exotic” things in life are in beaches or countries far away. We also often think that the culture that we’re involved in is THE only culture. I learned that there is a whole culture of painters who live in the same city as me and have drastically different views of things than I do. Going to that painting studio took me about as far out of my comfort zone as I could possibly go. Through meeting new people and watching how they paint, I learned to enjoy myself. When you try new things, you can’t help but open your mind to new ways of thinking and different view points; all of which can then be applied to situations and circumstances in your own life.

Have a Vision for the Masterpiece You Want to Create

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In Art, you have a limited amount of canvas to paint your picture on and you can’t erase acrylic paint. In life, you have a limited amount of days and often can’t undo your mistakes. Therefore it’s important to visualize what you want the end result to look like so that you can plan your painting/life accordingly. If you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish in your painting before you start, your end product is not going to turn out great. Such is life; if you don’t have a goal or vision, you’ll just float through life with no meaningful masterpiece in the end.

Learn to Adapt

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Even with the best planning and the greatest vision for what you set out to accomplish, Something will always change…adapt to it. In life, even things that seem elementary and are, therefore, overlooked, can end up being the greatest obstacles. When planning my background, I thought how hard could it be to paint a couple of circles to make a sun and give it a gradient effect? Ended up being very hard. In fact, on the very first brush stroke (a big circle “attempt”) I messed up, and therefore, thought the entire painting was over. But that happens in life. Things don’t go as planned. That doesn’t mean you can’t still create your masterpiece. You just have to find ways to adapt so that you can still reach your end goal.

Laugh at Yourself

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Most of us don’t try new things because we are afraid of failure or we’re afraid that others won’t think we’re any good at whatever venture we set out to do. I learned that if you learn to laugh at yourself, not only will you find that what others say won’t bother you, but you’ll also learn that most people genuinely support you trying new things and are not in your life to tell you you’re not any good. You’re not going to be great at everything (the first time you do it), so it should be funny.
In life, you’ll make stupid mistakes; laugh at them first, then learn from them. It’ll help your quality of life. If you really want to laugh, look at the final version of my painting and see how ridiculously disproportioned my “b2” signature is. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized, “Okay, that might be a little too excessively large!”

Find the Beauty in Everything

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Years ago, I would have said there’s a better chance in me winning an Olympic Gold medal in a sport I’ve never played than for me to “get into” art, especially my own. When I walked into the art studio I was instantly intimidated by all the great paintings on the wall. Through hours of trudging through different size brushes, paint combinations, and brush strokes, I noticed something. I noticed that my little amateur sunset was a beautiful sunset. I realized that my two little misshaped, wrong-colored and wrong-placed shadow and accent marked birds were…beautiful birds. I realized that my first painting was a…beautiful piece of art. Not because it ever has a chance at winning an award, not because it was visually stunning; it was neither. It was beautiful because I found the beauty in it.

I saw beauty in completing a new task. I saw beauty in overcoming failed brush strokes and color mixtures. I saw beauty in trying to add accent marks to make my birds look like birds. I found beauty in the misshaped wings, heads, and beaks of my birds. Overall, I saw the beauty because I saw a finished product amongst the struggles it took to get there.

But that’s not the best part. After my painting, I looked back at those previously “intimidating paintings” on the wall. Were they still intimidating? No. They were beautiful. I could now see the pain, the struggle, and the story in all of those artists art as well. I realized, they too, are people with problems, all trying to express themselves, their lives, and their stories in an artistic manner as well.

Your life is a canvas. Make it a masterpiece. After all, you have a Father in Heaven who is your biggest Fan and ever so anxious to see you paint a great life on the canvas He gave you.

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