Throw away the extravagant tools and expensive classes.
Aashish Jain (12) only needed a few relatively cheap supplies, a wireless connection and his own imagination to develop his interest in painting.
During the transition between first and second semester of his senior year, Aashish created a Google Doc and listed for himself a variety of intellectual goals, one of which was learning how to paint. To that extent, he turned to art instructor and television host Bob Ross, who initially caught Aashish’s attention with his simplistic instructions, beautiful compositions and intriguing personality.
“If you ever watched a Bob Ross video, you can honestly fall asleep to watching him paint because his voice is really soothing,” he said. “When he’s painting, he sounds a little crazy. He has this nature-y philosophy. For example, when he’s painting a tree, he’ll call it a ‘happy tree,’ and he’ll come up with little backstories for it. He’ll paint a tree and be like, ‘Oh, this is a happy tree. Maybe he needs another little happy tree to be his friends.’”
After undergoing an often frustrating trial-and-error process, which involved spending three hours to paint a couple mountains and painting unintentionally “abstract” cherry blossoms amongst other experiences, Aashish eventually witnessed not only an improvement in his own artworks but also a profound shift in his perspective of his own surroundings.
“One time, I was hiking up this giant off-trail path, and this is going to make me sound like a complete hippy, but what I was thinking at the moment was that every single tree out there must have had some sort of backstory,” he said. “Even when I was walking to Shah, there was this tree right next to the building, and I was like, ‘Maybe this tree had a lot of other tree friends, but then this building came up and they had to get cut down.’ That made me pretty sad. So, when I was coming up with backstories for trees, it reminded me of my childlike innocence of playing pretend or playing with my stuffed animals because I thought my imagination would never run as wild as it once did. But, this experience made me feel happy because it’s something that I’ve lost, and I feel like I gained some of it back.”
From increasing his appreciation of nature to improving his teaching skills to developing him into a more creative problem-solver, painting has helped Aashish grow far beyond the canvas, something he did not expect from the outset.
“If I were to give life advice to myself five years ago, it would basically be ‘try new things,’” he said. “I used to think that other things were useless to try because they would never help you, but you honestly never know the compounding effects of doing something. Even if it takes a short amount of time just for you to try something, you don’t know where it’s going to lead. So, just try it.”