Peasants in Autumn, Katsushika Hokusai. Ukiyo-e woodblock printing, 1603–1867
The bright summer days have come to an end, and autumn is now here. As we move towards a new season, literally as well as in life, let us remember that life transitions are a part of nature’s process, and learning to embrace the changes it may bring can help us begin anew.
What does autumn symbolise in our lives?
Autumn is the season that marks the shift from summer to winter, when daylight becomes noticeably shorter, and the nights last longer. It’s the time of shedding leaves, greying skies, and cooler breeze. Together with the evident changes in nature, autumn might also be considered a time of progression in the lives of all living creatures. Ancient cultures, science, and astrology have linked many aspects of autumn to human life transitions – a powerful reminder that Mother Nature truly has an incredible influence in our lives.
In poetry, autumn has often been associated with feelings of passing melancholia; one that always has a brighter tomorrow. The English Romantic poet John Keats described it as a “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” in his 1819 poem, ‘To Autumn’. It does not have the warm sunlight of summer days, nor the colourful blooms of spring, but autumn is a season of change that can prepare you for the best months or years ahead, if you will allow it to.
Life transitions, grit, and hard work
Just as nature goes through a transformation in order to advance and thrive, so do we. This is a natural process in life transitions that can be related to the big changes we have in our lives like going through a rough patch in relationships, getting a new job, moving to a new town, or adjusting to unfamiliar circumstances. These are hard times when our strength will be tested to its limits, but the silver lining is that it provides a good opportunity for us to work hard, to do some deep introspection, and come out stronger than ever before. More often than not, change also asks us to be in a path different from what we initially planned out for ourselves. As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “The only constant thing is change.” Autumn reminds us that our bodies, minds, and surroundings are always developing. It focuses on the impermanence of life, emphasizing how vital it is to embrace the present. By doing so, we can savour what we have before it is gone.
Gustav Klimt, Birch Forest I. Oil on canvas, 1902 and Paul Gauguin, Landscape in Arles near the Alyscamps. Oil on canvas , 1888
Why we must take time to reflect and acknowledge
If there is one thing that can help us get through difficult life transitions, it is knowing that everyone in this world is in the same boat of uncertainty as we are, and all that we must do is do the work and trust the beauty of the unknown. As the seasons change, things eventually get better. Use this time to do a little re-grounding and hone everything – from your personal life, to your art concept, technique, and process. Before you know it, spring will be just around the corner, and you will have survived the season of life transitions.
Leaving yesterday’s struggles
As we go forward, we also leave parts of ourselves behind. This season, reflection and acknowledgement of the past can help solve a lot of personal struggles, such as high levels of stress and anger management problems. We live in a world full of stressors and negativity, and a constant reflection of our daily lives can truly help us see the positive. As we internalise, the practise of bullet journaling can aid in decluttering our minds, organising our thoughts and processing our emotions in this time of life transitions. With this, we can become more conscious of what’s bringing goodness in our lives, and what’s holding us back from our goals.
Creating inner peace
We have all made mistakes in the past, but acknowledging what went wrong and giving ourselves enough credit for the things we did right is a way of moving forward. If you have anyone you need to apologise to, take the big step and try to resolve all conflicts. As we learn to let go and embrace the change that will come along, we create a peace inside of us that cannot be shattered.
How to embrace one’s art through life transitions
As we go through this phase of life transitions, we grow as a person and our art will definitely change along with us. As artists, it is our duty as to see our art through this whole ordeal. It may feel like you are uncertain of everything at first, but don’t fret – this is normal! You are becoming the new version of yourself and together, you are creating new art so be patient; give time and space for your creativity to unfold itself.
Experiment on new styles
Have you been working on a certain style for the past number of years? Try to explore newer techniques, and let your imagination run wild! If you were always afraid to work with watercolours, do it for the sake of doing it. If you were always so strict with your forms and figures, try approaching your next works using painterly strokes. Just like trying a new experience, experimenting with art is not so much about the end goal, but engaging with the process to pick up new learnings. Assess your skills, see which areas you can improve on, and work towards that. Knowing how to work with almost all mediums definitely gives you an edge as an artist. Most importantly, have tons of fun.
🍂 Full time autumn vibes by Artist Chris Rogerson (@sweetseasonsart) – playing around with ZenART Supplies watercolour brushes from the Black Tulip Collection 🍂
Look back on previous works
Past works can provide you with a lot of insight or interesting ideas you might have forgotten and stored away. Bring out your old sketchbooks and browse through them. If you have old canvases lying around your studio, work on them! Artists typically have a lot of these unfinished works that we never get back to. Sometimes, we need a little time off to see these artworks with a fresh perspective. This is a practice that even the old masters have done – they painted over old works and some even turned out to be the most memorable ones!
To state examples, Pablo Picasso has a mysterious man concealed in his famous painting, ‘The Blue Room’. Rendered horizontally across the canvas, the painting depicts the portrait of a bearded, bow-tied man resting his head on his hand. Conservators believe that this painting was completed shortly before ‘The Blue Room’, when a teenaged Picasso did not yet have the funds to support his prolific practice. “Reusing canvases was a common practice for Picasso at the time” the Phillips Collection explains. This new work marked the beginnings of his ‘Blue Period’.
An x-ray spectroscopy of Pablo Picasso’s ‘The Blue Room’ painting, showing his initial composition underneath. Oil on canvas, 1901
Vincent Van Gogh is also known to paint over his works, perhaps more often than others. Underneath his painting ‘Patch of Grass’, done mostly in greens and blues, is a portrait of a peasant woman rendered in browns and reds. The portrait may have been one of a series of heads painted by Van Gogh, between 1884-85, and was revealed only after the painting has been subjected to x-ray spectroscopy.
Preserve your safe haven
During autumn, animals in nature do their best to preserve food and supplies in preparation for hard winter hard days. This applies to us who are going through life transitions, too. Setting up a comprehensive art studio or making important changes to your old one is one of the best ways to equip yourself for days of hard work.
Arrange your studio space according to your needs. This should be your safe haven, a sanctuary where you can be yourself and have everything you will need. Clear out the areas where there is unnecessary clutter and fill it with inspirational and practical things. Move tables and furniture around to make space for work, and invest in important equipment that you need for your art. After everything is done, you can have a little get-together by inviting over some friends and neighbours. If you are working with a gallery, invite your gallerists too so they can stay updated with your progress. Networking also means having a solid support system whom you can always turn to when you are in need of help.
Gathering new ideas
Autumn also provides us the time to gather and store new ideas! These can come unexpectedly, so it helps to always carry your trusted sketchbook or bullet journal with around. Always be reading, studying, researching, and growing as an artist. Capture brilliant ideas. On another note, you can also get useful information about your art by interviewing your buyers and collectors. What do they like about your style? Do they have any suggestions that they would like to share with you? Understanding your strengths and weaknesses can further contribute to your growth and development in this phase of life transition.
🍁 Artist Rachel Christopoulos’ (@rachelshoppe.co) essential autumn palette on ZenART’s B6 sketchbook 🍁
Begin a new body of work
Lastly, do not be afraid to begin. This season calls for a new you, and your art is the biggest representation of your story. Create new works and apply everything you have learned. There will be changes in your style, your subject matter, your concept, and even your medium… But know that all this is a result of improvement and growth. If you are planning to explore new media, you can begin by trying out ZenART’s Infinity Series oil paints which come in three variants: The Essential Palette, Impressionist Palette, and Portrait Palette. These are highly specialised and carefully chosen palettes that provide you with all the colours you will need if you want to focus on a certain subject or genre. Plan out a new series of works, and begin by slowly doing more. Update your portfolio, edit your CV, reach out to other artists for collaborations. This is your time to step up and embrace growth. Keep in mind that you have nothing to lose, but have everything to gain.
A season of growth
Letting go of past mistakes, failures, and attachments are necessary for growth. When you see your hardships as losses, remember that everything is based on perspective. If you see things from a lacking perspective, then you will feel like you have lost everything; but if you see them from a perspective of gain, then endless possibilities are right at the palm of your hands. This season of difficulty is here to propel you into becoming the best person and artist that you can be. Life transitions are really painful, because it means that you are growing out of your comfort zone. It can be pretty scary, and full of the unknown, but when you take this chance as an opportunity for growth and willingly accept the lessons that will come along your way, everything will be easier. As you prepare for your new endeavours, know that the time you’ve taken to reflect and prepare for your next phase of life transitions will help you live more fully and in line with your purpose.
Claude Monet, Autumn on the Seine at Argenteuil. Oil on canvas, 1873
Did you like this article? Are you going through something difficult in life and in art, and somehow found this on the web? Let us know your thoughts and comments below. We would love to hear from you! Let’s discuss. 🙂 If you are looking for more inspiration, join our Facebook group where we provide daily inspiration for artists, discuss with the community, and generally support each other for the love of art! Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube.
— MEET THE AUTHORS —
Ardak Kassenova is mother, artist and ZenART Supplies co-founder. “My heart and soul were always with Art, and since my childhood as long as I remember myself, I was dreaming to be an artist. I was painting after work, when I had time, and teaching myself through the books, videos, visiting art galleries and museums. I’ve been very curious about different techniques and styles, and therefore accumulated knowledge and experience on a variety of mediums”.
After 20 years of successful corporate career and with becoming a mother to two wonderful girls, she decided that it’s time to make drastic changes and link her life with Art. She started to paint again and decided to create her own art supplies brand that would help artists to fulfil their creative dreams and achieve their best results since the beginning using high-quality art materials without wasting their precious time and money. Say hello to @ardak_zenart on Instagram!
Regina R. is the head content writer for ZenART Supplies. Aside from being a creative writer, she is a full-time artist, art and literature advocate, and mother cats. On her free days – she likes to cook, knit, and tinkle around with her typewriter while drinking a glass or two of good red wine. Oh, and she loves 60’s music too!