Life Is Like A Canvas

Emotions and thoughts give colour to our lives. Bright, happy colours and darker, more serious, angry or sad colours, as well as lighter, tender, insecure or hopeful colours.

Fine art as a metaphor for life

Being alive we have pallets to make use of, and a whole range of various tubes of paint. Acrylics, oils, gouache …  heavy, opaque and transparent colours with which we can cover the spotless white of our canvas.

Often we feel that our canvas is covered in paint that we ourselves haven’t put there. We might not like the colours of the painting at all – we might not like the painting itself to begin with. We may believe that we have to put up with it. We may feel that this is what we have to work with and it cannot be changed.

Who’s the artist?

We forget that we are the artists ourselves. We determine how our painting looks. We choose what we allow on our canvases and what we don’t. Being aware of this power gives us the strength to alter the painting until we do like it.

In painting, acrylics and oils can be put over watercolours, but gouache will not hold over oils and acrylics. Oils will go nicely over acrylics, but acrylics won’t cover oils. Knowing this, and continuing to use fine art as a metaphor for life, we understand that we cannot put just any layer over another. We cannot simply smear a new belief over an old one and expect the old one not to shine through. A strong new belief can be put over a weak old belief like oil paint over watercolour. But if you try to cover up a strong old belief with a weaker new belief you can be sure the old belief will keep shining through.

Can a painting be changed?

In painting,  when we don’t like what we have created on our canvases, we take serious measures. We have a sanding machine handy. If we don’t, we either have sandpaper and strong hands or we borrow our neighbour’s sanding machine. Then we take a deep breath, say goodbye to the old painting, and start sanding it off! While the first layer of paint comes off we might feel sad or angry. We might feel frustrated about having done all the previous painting in vain – it hasn’t become what we wanted. We might angrily think: ‘All my effort has been for nothing. What a waste! How could I have been so stupid? I have spent so much money on the paint; so much time on the design and the mixing of the pigments … Such loss!’ and we might feel like crying.

With each further layer of undesirable paint coming off the canvas, we feel more liberated; we feel freer. We begin to look forward to the new possibilities. We can see more and more white shining through the old layers: the promise of new beginnings. Then we start to feel happy and enthusiastic, anticipating on new colours and shapes. This time we’ll pay more attention! ‘The new painting will be a better expression of who I am, of what I have to offer and what I want to attract,’ we think.

Start anew

In life it’s no different. If we have the will and the courage to undo old layers, we can start anew. We can consciously choose who and what to include and who and what to exclude in our new lives. We can pay more attention. We can focus better. We can make use of our creative powers in a way that is more committed to who we have found that we really are – to our true nature. ‘This time I will paint a better picture,’ I can hear you think. And so it is!

To freedom! To conscious creativity,

Miriam Aziz

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