4 Powerful Life Lessons Taken from Notable Painters

When we conjure the idea of an artist, we often get romantic notions about the ordeals they endure and the difficulties they must overcome.

Whether we are going through our own personal struggles or simply looking to make life more enjoyable, there are many interesting lessons to be learned from the artists who have helped to shape the world around us.

Here are five of those secret life lessons from notable painters. Each of these can be applied to our own lives to help inspire and manifest what we truly desire…

LIFE LESSON #1: Pablo Picasso – Everything Can Be an Opportunity

Following your passion isn’t always easy, especially when it almost seems as if the world is conspiring to thwart your efforts. It must have seemed that way to Picasso.

As a student, Picasso didn’t fare so well because he just didn’t take to listening to authority figures. As a result, the young boy often found himself in detention in a bare room with nothing but a bench to sit on.

Rather than bemoaning his bad luck, Picasso loved detention saying…

“I liked it there, because I took along a sketch pad and drew incessantly…I could have stayed there forever drawing without stopping.”

How many times do we stop to see the opportunity in the adversities that we face?

If we change our perspective, we can often find that it is our reaction to them that allows us to move forward or stay where we are.

LIFE LESSON #2: Andy Warhol – Defy Labels

Andy Warhol’s friends in the music industry nicknamed him “Drella,” a combination of Dracula and Cinderella.

Warhol was a complicated man, but he somehow managed to embrace multiple sides of his personality to complete the whole person. This idea of accepting oneself as a multi-faceted human being is reflected in the works he created.

Warhol branched out into a variety of directions, developing silk screening, working in film, producing iconic advertising images, and much more. One of his most famous techniques was to reproduce the same image repeatedly, using different colors.

Each of us has a complex set of characteristics and plays a number of roles in life. Rather than thinking of oneself as “just” a parent, “just” an employee, or “just” a student, for example, we can allow these aspects of ourselves to intertwine and live lives that are much more whole and authentic.

LIFE LESSON #3: Keith Haring – Dare to Buck Tradition

As a young artist, Keith Haring attempted to do things the “approved” way. He went to college to study commercial art, and when he discovered that commercial graphic art wasn’t for him, he dropped out. Still, he followed a traditional path, getting his exhibits and moving to New York to attend the School of Visual Arts.

After a while, however, Haring began to realize that the world was full of places to share his work. He worked with all kinds of “alternative” venues and eventually became very well known for creating a series of free art pieces using chalk on blank add spaces in the subways.

While many of us get hung up on doing something a certain way because “that’s how it’s always been done,” there’s definitely something to be said for following your own intuition and being daring enough to try something completely different.

LIFE LESSON #4: Chuck Close – Small Things Matter

Chuck Close is famous for paintings that look like photographs. These enormous portraits are so realistic that the work is referred to as “photorealism” or “hyperrealism.” Each piece is made by dividing both the photograph and the canvas into grids and then recreating very small pieces of the image at a time using a variety of tools.

Close wouldn’t simply walk up to the canvas and paint a picture on it, rather he’d create tiny grids of color, that when seen together, are as realistic as a photograph.

In our own lives, we often get so caught up in the big picture (or “broad strokes”), that we forget to appreciate—or even to notice—the tiny little details that make our day-to-day existence what it is.

Gratitude for these things, and recognition of their importance, opens us up to building the reality that we imagine based on the small things that really matter.