Art Imitating Life

I moved to Hong Kong with plenty of time up my sleeve and a strong desire to try new things.

In my second week here I joined a Meet Up painting group called ‘Art Jam.’

Why I chose an art class, I really don’t know? There are plenty of other Meet Up groups to join.

But surprisingly I got a lot more out of it than just painting a relatively pretty picture!


Setting the Scene

Our art studio is on the 11th floor of a residential building in Kowloon (the ‘dark side’ of Hong Kong).

It’s small just like all spaces here, but filled with beautiful light and teeming with creative energy.

In my first class I quickly discovered I was the only Westerner and my art teacher, Mr Wai, only spoke Cantonese. (Oh sh*t).

Thankfully a lovely local lady, Clarissa, who’s English is quite good, acted as our much valued interpreter and guided me each week.

As you can imagine, my novice painting skills and the frequent ‘lost in translation’ episodes made for a very entertaining few weeks, plus many valuable life lessons along the way.


7 lessons I learned about Art imitating life


1. Start from the inside and move out

A basic painting technique is to start from the inside of the canvas and move your way out.

In Mr Wai’s (translated) words, ‘by starting from the inside you will create a balanced picture.’

Similar to life, you have to start doing the inner work to create an outer world that you desire.


2. Brush over your mistakes

The joy of painting with acrylic is that it dries quickly and if you make a mistake you can easily paint over it.

(I should know!).

In life you can always start again.

Brush over your error and keep living your life.

Your blunders are a part of making beautiful and unique art.


3. Layers Upon Layers

Building upon layers of colour is vital to create an artwork that has beauty and depth.

It’s the same with life.

Every experience, good or bad, adds another layer to your life.

As you live your life you’re continually creating a rich and vivid masterpiece.

So love your layers!


4. Patience is a virtue


I’m not patient. At. All.

But painting really taught me the power of patience.

Many times I just wanted my painting of ‘peonies’ finished.

But as one of my favourite fashion designers, Camilla Freeman, has been quoted:


“Nothing comes easily. If it does, it’s not worth putting out for the world to see.”


5. The more you ask for help, the easier it is

Everyone in my class appeared to be phenomenal painters (except me).

Often I would sit there frozen, as I had no idea what to do.

At first I was too scared to ask for help, but I quickly got over that and continually asked for guidance.

The more I asked, the easier painting became.

Make life easier. Ask for help.



6. The Comparison Killer

I was in a class with people who had been painting for years.

My painting career promptly ended in year 7 when art was no longer compulsory.

Half way through my painting I started to compare my work to others in the class, which resulted in a feeling of hopelessness.

I heard my inner voice say, ‘Your artwork is rubbish and you’re so slow. Just quit now.’

Comparison is a real killjoy and 100% unnecessary.

Be grateful for what you have and give yourself a pat on the back for showing up.

You are enough.


7. Take a step back


When I became stuck with my artwork Mr Wai instructed me to take a step back.

Up close my painting didn’t look that great.

I was getting to close to it and bogged down in the detail.

I became overwhelmed.

But after stepping back and looking at my artwork from a distance, I gained a new perspective.

My painting wasn’t that bad at all. It actually looked quite good.

When life isn’t going the way you had hoped, take a step back.

Get a fresh perspective.

You may be surprised at what you see!


Has a hobby ever taught you valuable life lessons?

I would love to hear them in the comments below!

Thanks for being here.