Life changed for everyone around the globe with the Covid-19 pandemic. The virus took its toll on victims who were fighting the beast or succumbing to death. For all of us, existence revolved around stress, precautions, and the quarantine.
It was suffocating, but we persevered by being grateful for our blessings and helping others. My family had to give up some of our ‘normal’ activities but just as everybody else, we tried to keep busy with simple hobbies like cooking or going out for walks.
Nature shows the way
Staying within the neighborhood, or in my backyard, I savored the surroundings with hungry eyes. I had always been a nature lover, but the restricting circumstances increased my fondness.
I gazed with wonder at the sea of skies above our heads. The trees and leaves swayed in new rhythms and the birds sang dulcet tunes. Delicate blossoms felt like bowls brimming at the rims with fluid color. The moon showered a brighter silver light, and the breeze played with the grass. The world outside was more beautiful than I had remembered.
I longed to bring nature into my home and transfer its beauty onto the canvas.
Art of survival
Art became one of my lifelines. You see, I am an artist who studied Fine Arts, and for the last few years had been focusing on abstract and symbolic art. It gave me the freedom to portray my spiritual journey and presented a language for my ideas.
However, in the past few months, when I needed care and peace, nature was there for me. To enhance my inner harmony, I began painting landscapes and flowers.
I knew it would be difficult for me to paint outdoors, but came upon the obvious solution. Images of oft-visited fields, ponds, creeks, and rolling hills where I had observed intricate details and done mental sketches populated my mind.
I also had tons of pictures in my camera roll of those local or faraway places and could supplement them as I rediscovered my neighborhood during my walks.
The canvases come to life
I began my work with renewed enthusiasm. Nothing was holding me back as I splurged my canvases with all kinds of foliage, clouds, shadows, water, and light. Using many hues of lush colors in the landscapes offered my art fresh energy.
Creating dense trees with many shades became a passion. I discovered that I loved painting reflections in water and strove to get them right. Capturing the sunlight peeking through the branches or warming the earth brought much satisfaction. I depicted wildflowers growing nearby and floral arrangements in vases. Fresh, dainty, opulent, vivid flowers were a delight to paint.
Art became essential for my well-being. In landscapes, I found a new balance for my soul, and a window of pure wonderment that made me contemplate. It relaxed and re-charged my mind and gave me something to look forward to during the day. The kids joined the painting sessions and the entire family enjoyed the new paintings decorating our walls.
Sharing art as a remedy
Each day, I also felt that satisfying myself was simply not enough when countless were searching for peace and hope in these challenging times. I wanted to do something, however small it may be.
To bring momentary relief to whomever I could, I resumed sharing pictures of my paintings with friends, family, and the public on social media platforms, something I had stopped a few years back.
Encouraging comments made me grateful to God for providing nature as a cure for exhausted or suffering hearts. I especially love it when my parents see my creations on WhatsApp and find them pleasing.
My art always explores my soul with honesty, but if it could give some solace to those struggling with a rough day, anxiety, or sickness, I will have done my job well. Selling work is always fulfilling, I will not deny, but spreading cheer and optimism gives it a higher purpose. I hope I can continue to spread the good vibes.
Uzma Rizvi is an artist and freelance writer from Dallas, Texas. She finds inspiration for her work in our shared humanity, nature and Sufi poetry.