The most difficult thing in life is to get that perfect balance - of work and leisure, of boredom and fun, of purpose and laziness, of extraversion and introversion, of personal needs and social calls, of selflessness and selfishness, of good and bad, of black and white, and so on.
No, this is isn't a random unrelated quote. I am just penning down the thoughts I had while I drew this.
The most important and frequent problem I encounter while drawing, is my fear of blank spaces. I try to fill the space with patterns, and leave no void, black or white. I fear that voids might make my art incomplete, and I sub-consciously fill up all the voids with intricate patterns. Intricacy is my "thing", after all! It took me quite a while to understand that by creating so much clutter, I am depriving my art of its depth, and hence, a life, or a soul. Too flat, one could say, in simpler terms.
My fear of voids could very well be connected to a fear of emptiness at a higher, emotional level. I have always found myself incapable of doing nothing. Those of my friends who can, tell me that it is a highly freeing experience. But I can never let myself be idle. My mind has to, forever, be thinking, imagining, complicating and resolving. I feel a constant need to employ myself in productive tasks. I don't mean that I don't laze around, mind you. I just have a checklist on the back of my mind that reminds me of the time I am wasting, as I laze. Sometimes, on days on which I feel completely useless, I even manage to get some panic attacks. On those days, even my art is too slow to comfort.
I used to think of my art as doodling. My inspiration came from people who did doodles and my own love for patterns and all things aligned. Other times, I never "thought" of my art at all. I never thought of a possibility of there being a similar form of art, complete with mathematical rules guiding the artist. I owe it to my friend for introducing me to the concepts of "mandala" (which I knew about, but not in an artistic perspective) and "zentangle". Though I do not identify with either, I feel that knowing those terms have helped me understand my own art better.
My friend works on (from what I understand) a combination of Mandala art and Zentangle, while not limiting herself to the rules of either. She finds peace in the tumult of lines, and it was during one of those comfortable silences with her that I observed her work her magic. What struck me the most was how confident she was - her hands steady, her lines strong. The composition came easy. The balance that I longed for seemed to come naturally to her. She is my inspiration to push my artistic boundaries. Since that day, I have been trying to fight my fear of voids. With every new piece that I work on, I try to bring in bigger patches of smooth, clean, blank.
In spite of the trials of my childhood and the training from my architecture degree, I was never impressed by anything I drew. I know, I know! Everyone is an artist, and every artist has a signature style. I guess I am still discovering mine. I started doodling so as to take my mind off things from everyday life. I function better when I multi-task, and this seemed like a nice and productive way to challenge myself. In order to keep myself on edge, I try to bring complexities within order. In art, I have found, the best way to do that, is through the use (or overuse) of circles. A circle is the single most simple, and at the same time, the single most complex geometrical form, ever. I find it fascinating, how circles both simplify and complicate a composition.
The journey to calling myself an artist wasn't an easy one. I have only recently accepted what I do as art. I know that art, in its essence, is more inclusive than that. But I prefer to be critical of myself. But it truly is difficult balancing my love for perfection and my admiration of the imperfect. My art isn't perfect. But my art and I have met midway now. Now, I tell myself : I too, am an artist.
It is exhilarating to give in to your instincts; to be spontaneous. To not have an ultimate goal, but to consider the process a journey, where the destination will surprise me as much as the next person. While drawing this particular piece, I managed to surprise myself a few times with something new - a new type of line, an unusual pattern, a break in the default.
I have heard of how relaxing the process of drawing can be, when you really get into it. But I never expected it to be a changing experience. In addition to instilling patience, perseverance and motor control, every time I draw, it kindles something in my mind. At times, I have had to revisit some areas of the drawing, and while I do so, I get reminded of how similar it is to the working of the world in general, as with balance. There are some things that you just don't learn, even after being told multiple times. There are some things that you forget to remember. Things you learn only on personal experience. But who would have thought such a life experience can be found within art?! This drawing has once again shown me how a tiny little thing can make a huge impact on the overall picture (pun intended).
So here's to an amazing, spontaneous, even adventurous artistic life ahead of me, you and everyone. May art give you all the life lessons you need, and may we all get that perfect balance between what you are, what you are becoming, what you need to be, and what you want to be.

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