Home » 8 Lessons I’ve Learned About Life From Watching My Artistic Daughter

8 Lessons I’ve Learned About Life From Watching My Artistic Daughter

by Ryann Barnum

Having an artistic daughter, I have the opportunity to observe while she works away on her latest creations. I see both frustration and determination as she tirelessly applies countless hours of focus into her masterpieces. 

Her focus has taught me plenty about how she views life as well as life itself. The lessons I learn from her would have passed by me unnoticed if my daughter weren’t as artistic as she is. The fact that I’m able to learn life lessons from her humbles me.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

I see my daughter make mistakes with her art that would send me over the edge and make me want to give up. Time and time again I watch her apply the wrong color paint or mess up on a line she’s trying to get just so. Her reaction is always the same, she jumps back to observe the mistake, staring at it for a minute. She may even let a ‘DANG IT’ slide. After a quick shrug she leaps back into her art and makes her mistake work.

How can she be so cavalier about her blunders? It’s a gift that comes naturally to her while it’s one I had to watch over and over until it finally stuck with me. She doesn’t sweat the small stuff. Whatever her mistakes or shortcomings, she ponders them briefly before deciding they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things and she makes them work. Integrating whatever her momentary issue is into something that helps continue to propel her forward.

There Is Beauty in Everything

My daughter can look down at a sidewalk and see patterns in the cement that give her pause and a reason to point it out to me. Only after she explains her findings do I see the wonders of the sidewalk through her eyes. How could I have missed this? Every tree, every rock has a story to tell and my daughter is telling those stories.

My daughter’s artistic eye allows her to see things in the world that most overlook, including myself. I love when she shares with me her point of view because it allows me to see the beauty that she sees. This eye she has inspires her art and fosters her creativity. Her mobile device fills daily with pictures of mundane things like this, that later, I need help understanding the beauty.

It’s Okay to Mess Up

Nothing is perfect and striving for perfection only incurs disappointment. Making mistakes is a normal and natural part of life. I watched my daughter work so hard to draw a comic strip complete with text bubbles and a script before realizing she had forgotten to include an entire slide in the middle. This wasn’t a mistake that was fixable without starting over. 

Her reaction both stunned me and made me sad at the same time. She showed me her comic, explaining where the slide would have gone before throwing the whole thing away and running off to do something else.

It was sad to see her throw her work away but I understood why she did it. Mistakes happen and next time I know she will not forget the slide. Mistakes help us grow and she helps me see that.

Be a Duck

Ducks look calm and collected when you see them sitting in the water. What you don’t see are their little legs paddling ferociously just under the surface. All the hard work is being done behind the scenes to make movement appear effortless. 

My daughter happily shows her artwork to anybody but all they see is the finished product. They don’t get to see the persistence, diligence, or reworkings she puts in when nobody’s around.

A lot goes into making her artistic abilities seem effortless to those around her but I’ve seen her little legs cycling with all their might just under the surface. The awareness I learn from this highlights the fact that everybody has struggles floating just beyond where we can see.

Walk Away If You Have To

There’s no need to stick with something and torture yourself if your efforts aren’t working. Sometimes walking away is the best thing to do. Take a break, reassess the situation, then try again. Or perhaps you find that trying again isn’t the answer, in which case you walk away for good.

My daughter’s desk is riddled with half done projects. Some of them she eventually gets around to when she’s ready. Others she never touches again and they sit there, partially done, adorning her space. Interestingly, she often pins these to her bedroom wall as decorations. Though it drives my husband and I crazy, she sees something fun in even half-finished art. 

Some of them, I wish she would finish but that’s for her to decide. It’s okay to walk away.

Be Proud

I’m naturally proud of my daughter but this isn’t the type of pride I’m referring to. Be proud of yourself and your own efforts both as a parent and as a person. Like a lot of people, I tend to avoid confrontation or ruffling any feathers. Anything that brings attention to myself, I steer clear. Watching my daughter talk about herself and her hobbies, abilities, and art have gone a long way in showing me that being proud isn’t a bad thing and should be celebrated. I see that people are genuinely interested in her work and want to talk about it with her. Having attention to yourself can be a wonderful thing and you shouldn’t shy away from it. Stand up and be proud of who you are and the things you accomplish. 

There Is Room For Everyone

One thing about my daughter that is such an inspiration to me is her ability to include everyone. She won’t tolerate someone getting bullied in front of her and has no trouble speaking up for those who need a voice. Her heart is big enough for everyone. I try to emulate that in my everyday life. My daughter’s selfless attitude doesn’t stop with human beings though. She has room for every animal on the planet as well, many which she has tried to bring home as a secret pet. Her inclusive nature has taught me that everybody deserves a kind word or a knowing smile. To brighten somebody’s day doesn’t cost a thing and makes you the kind of person people love to be around.

Life Is Messy

One look into my daughter’s bedroom tells you that she is an artist. The random things she has stuck up on her wall or the various brushes and markers scattered around her desk as well as the multiple sketchbooks lying open on every surface tells you she goes a million miles a minute from one project to the next. It’s messy, no doubt, but it’s an organized mess. I couldn’t tell you where one single clean sock is in her room but she knows where all her socks are. This approach teaches me to loosen up and let go of trying to organize every aspect of life. Things get messy and that’s okay because I find a lot of joy in the mess sometimes.

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