I’ve always been an avid lover of art. I remember taking “art lessons” growing up. Every weekend, I would go to art class. We’d sit around the table and our art teacher would teach us the basics of colouring and shading. We started small, drawing apples and various still-lifes, and then moved on to more complicated subjects like horses and people. Having been raised by two Asian parents, I had no shortage of extracurricular activities, but I remember how much I loved art class each week.
The older I got, the more media I played with– charcoal, watercolours, acrylic paints, oils, pencil. I really owe it to my mother. She values creativity and art and she encouraged me to make art. To this day, a painting I did at age seven is proudly framed in my parents’ home.
When I first attended university, one of my roommates was pursuing a degree in Art History. I was completely gobsmacked, I never realised that it was something that you could study. To me, art was and remains something invaluable, something you could know a lot about without having a degree. I have the utmost respect for my friends and colleagues who have studied art history. I really wish that I had because I truly believe art has had an enormous impact on culture and history through the ages. However, I really, truly believe that all people can appreciate art. You don’t have to have a degree in order to have an opinion.
To me, the beauty of art is that it is completely subjective. It means something different to different people. The emotions it brings afresh vary so greatly, it’s hard to pinpoint an exact feeling. Sure, there are certain paintings that will always garner similar reactions such as a Degas, da Vinci, Monet, or Lichtenstein. But the best art is the kind of art that makes you think, and forces you to consider a new perspective if only for a fleeting moment.
A few months ago, I started following Sarah Coey on Instagram. She’s a phenomenal painter based in Edinburgh. One day, she posted this painting and I immediately fell in love with it. I had to have it… and so I messaged her about buying it. And just like that, I bought my first piece of art. It was an unimaginable feeling receiving this painting and knowing that it was now mine. Every day that I look at it, I feel something new. Some days it makes me think of swirling confetti or frolicking in a field of flowers, the feeling is downright child-like. Some days when I’m feeling low, it reminds me to add a splash of colour to an otherwise dreary day.
This one piece of art has added such immense value to my life in the short time that I’ve been lucky enough to covet it, more so because unlike the great museums of the world, I can put my hands all over it. I can feel the texture of the paints and it makes owning this piece of art all the more intimate.
I felt the need to share Sarah’s talent with the world because she certainly deserves the recognition. But I also implore everyone to continue to invest in the arts, however small– whether it be a painting, a sketch, or even something hand-knit. There is something truly beautiful about sharing and finding joy in something that another person has created. Personally, it makes me feel connected and more grateful for the creativity surging through our societies each day, adding to our culture and our collective perspectives and shared memories. If there’s one thing I know for certain, society without art would be truly bleak indeed.