A few months back, I wondered how art would help a business student! How do canvas, pencils, charcoal, and eraser help an International Business student? I asked myself. I still signed up for Art 111 in North Seattle Community (NSC) College. Now, when I look back, that decision to learn art was one of the best decisions I made in the recent past.
The journey was not easy. In fact, it was a bit frustrating when I couldn’t make both ends of my ellipses meet. Ellipse is one of the very basic building blocks of art. But my ellipses were anything but it. I kept drawing again and again and again in hope that the ends will meet some day. Then, I learned a better way to hold pencil to draw beautiful ellipses – drawing with your shoulder letting your hand flow on the canvas. A simple and elegant approach and yet I didn’t know that for the last 3 decades. If you are struggling to make both ends of your metaphorical ellipses meet, ask yourself if you are holding the pencil right.
Figure 1: Struggle with ellipses
How many of you believe in the power of dreams? Not the ones we dream while asleep, the ones we consciously dream of becoming/having. When we dream and act on those dreams, we realize them, don’t we? Some call it vision. It’s the result of someone’s dream/vision of every household having a computer that I am using a laptop to write this article. The ability to see things in mind and act in a way to manifest is art. Below is my drawing I made blindfolded. Can you make out what I meant to draw? Each of those drawing is a single line.
Figure 2: Blind contour drawings
Now see the same drawing with my eyes open. Is it better? Again, each of these drawings is a single line. Art taught me the full potential of a line and that learning was a humbling experience. By continuously analyzing my progress with my eyes open, I could course correct before it was too late. You might hear this as Agile methodology, scrum, sprint, etc. This part of my art class reinforced my belief in those methodologies.
Figure 3: Contour drawing with eyes open
Knowing what you don’t see makes you more successful in life and business. The successful businesses we see around today, from multinational companies to mom and pop stores, are a result of a lot of hard work behind the scene. When we see an object, our limited vision is missing out on the other side. Art is a skill to see all sides and to overcome the limitations of our eyeballs. See in below drawing how art helped me see all sides of objects. Normally the back side of these objects are not visible. But it is visible to an artist – a 365-degree vision.
Figure 4: X-ray vision
Knowing all sides helped me expand my mind and improve my art.
Figure 5: bottle
Real world is not a bunch of lines. It is not just black or white. There are infinite shades. An artist is someone who understands the infinity of this world. They observe the subtle variations of shades. They know the marriage of an object to its shadow in presence of light. In short, they see what many of us fail to even notice even when it is right in front of us. It’s a quality every business student must possess. They should see the opportunity in the market. They should perceive the subtle variations in their business environment. This would help them make the right strategic decisions. I kept drawing in hope that I will get there one day.
Figure 6: 3-D Forms
Figure 7: 3-D sphere
Figure 8: Cup and saucer
Figure 9: Bedroom
A wise teacher knows a student has to face the world themselves one day. Prof. Kelly knew this; she taught us the skills to face the world and pushed us to explore the world ourselves. The result was, in a way, self-realization for me. See it yourself in my below drawings of objects from my little world – a hand sanitizer (symbolizes the struggle our world faces today) and my bed lamp.
Figure 10: Still life from direct observation – 1
Figure 11: Still life from direct observation – 2
The one who keeps drawing their metaphorical ellipses never losing the hope that the ends will meet one day, the one who expands their vision beyond what they see with their naked eyes, the one who uses the tools without fear, the one who is not afraid to make mistakes, the one who is willing to erase their metaphorical drawing to make it better, they get to draw the future and put a ding in the universe.
Thank you, Prof. Kelly.