Things you don’t want to tell an Artist

As a self taught artist, there have been too many unknown things I’ve had to deal with. The biggest among these is what people think about me.

Now personally I don’t care what people think about me but the annoying things people say to my face does matter. So here are a few funny things I’ve heard over the years. You will find the things you don’t want to tell an Artist in bold letters and my thoughts in italicized letters.

Conversation 1:

“Hi, I’m Sylvia.”

“Hi, What do you do Sylvia?”

“I’m an Artist”

“Oh, I paint too. But what do you really do? For a living, I mean.”

Really? Profession: Artist. Don’t you get it? I’m not an idiot to tell you my hobby when you ask me what I do.

“May I see some photos of your paintings?”

“Sure, here.”

“Oh wow, these are really good. Mine aren’t.”

Conversation 2:


“Do you sell your paintings Sylvia?

“Yeah, I do””

“Are they original?”

“Yeah they are.”

“Wow! Give me the soft copies of your painting photos.”


“So I can print them and hang it on my wall”

“Oh. I sell prints too. Just tell me which one you want and I’ll have it printed for you.”

Oh no… I don’t want to buy. Just give me the soft copies. I’ll print them myself.”

Conversation 3:

“How much does this painting cost?”

“Rs. 15000”

Ans 1: “Wow! That’s expensive, not for the poor, eh?”

Ans 2: Really!! Don’t you think that’s expensive? What is your cost of material?

Sure! Just pay me the cost of canvas and paint. My original idea or design has no value, nor does the amount of time and energy spent on making something so beautiful on canvas or the years I’ve spent learning the skill.

Conversation 4:

“Oh wow! You’re an artist? Did you design that tattoo which is on your wrist?”my tattoo1

“Yeah I did!”

“Can you design one for me, for free?”

Yeah, I do that only for friends who genuinely appreciate what I do.

One minute you’re appreciating what I do and the next you’re telling me that my art isn’t worth paying for?

Conversation 5:

This is an incident that happened when we just moved to a new place; A conversation between my husband and his superiors wife.

“So, what does your wife do?”

“She is an Artist.”

“What is her medium of painting?”

“Oil on Canvas.”

“That’s perfect. There is an old painting in our guest room covered in mold. You can tell your wife to restore it. ”

“Sorry, she doesn’t do restorations and I don’t tell her what to do.”

Conversation 6:

“Hey, I love your paintings, maybe you can teach me sometime?”

“Sure, come over to my place for coffee and we’ll make an evening of it and make a small painting too”

After the lovely evening,

“You teach well too. Why don’t I send my daughter to your place twice a week, she can learn a lot from you.”

“I’ll let you know when I can move things around my schedule and make time for the class. We’ll discuss fees later.”

“Oh, no. Not for class or anything. Just for fun. To pass time.”

Sure. I’ll make time in my busy schedule twice a week(that’s two hours) for fun. To pass time!

There are so many hilarious things I’ve heard from people, I just wonder if they think before they speak. Do you ask a plumber if he’ll fix your tap for free? Or an electrician if he’ll light a bulb for you so you’ll tell all your neighbors about him. Word of mouth you see…

Then why do you ask an artist if he/she will work for free?

P.S:  The conversations above really did happen.

Go on and read a few more things people tell artists that he/she doesn’t really want to hear.

“If I had time and patience like you, I would paint too.”

Precisely why I’m an artist, I got patience and passion for art.

“I can paint that too”

Then go do it.

“It must be nice to have so much time so you can paint”

Yeah I don’t know how my day is magically 30hrs long.

“You should paint this, this, and that”

Maybe you should.

“A sea horse is not so big that a mermaid can sit on it!”mer2

Really dude, have you seen a mermaid?

“Do you know artist XYZ? Can you make a painting for me which looks more like his work?”

No. Go buy his art.

“Oh what is abstract art? You artists throw some paint around on a canvas and call it abstract art.”

Have you heard of something called Color Theory?

“Can I take a photo of that? I want to post it on my Facebook page. Maybe I’ll paint one when I find time”

I don’t know what to say.

Here is one question that a lot of people have asked me but it is not an annoying one and I’d like to answer it. Actually a genuine question.

“Why do you paint horses? Do you like horses? What is the meaning behind the horse painting?”

The truth is, a painting doesn’t always have to mean something. Sometimes it is just about how beautiful it looks on a wall. Horses are very good subjects to paint and I think they’re majestic. A painting can mean different things to different people. Art is Subjective. Just enjoy it.

Also, when an artist wants to exhibit her art she cannot display a landscape, a horse portrait, a mermaid and a portrait of a lady together because they don’t always go well together. It helps to stick to a specific topic like birds, pet portraits, zodiacs, jungle cats, fantasy, underwater world etc. when you’re exhibiting your art.

I hope you enjoyed reading this. I deviated from the flow of my journey but I think this blog was very important.

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THE TRAGIC CHANGE- How I dealt with my health issues and still didn’t give up on art.

I enjoyed my time in Punjab. As unlikely as it is to find a Christian officer in the Indian Army, we had 6 Christian families in one place and Sundays were never a bore. We went to Church together, had potluck lunches and talked a lot. We made some great friends; ate Goan, Mangalorean, and Coorgi cuisine and had loads of fun and that made the most boring place on earth, the best. I shouldn’t forget to mention that I once visited Pooja (army wife and friend)’s house and saw these beautiful paintings at her place and fell in love with painting all over again. Inspiration! They were painted by her dad. Pooja too is a well know artist now.

I always say ‘Time flies so quickly when you are having fun’. We’d lived in Punjab for a little over a year and my husband was sent to a new place again just when we had moved into an amazing new house. I had to stay back in Punjab for a month or two until we got one allotted in the new place. I think I could’ve stayed with my husband in a temporary accommodation but I had to stay in a nice house for once, even if it was for a month.

A few days before he left though, I started having a sharp pain in my back toward the right hip. Pascal thought it was because I had just got an injection in my left heel because I had a very painful heel spur and I was limping so it might’ve caused the pain in my back. He left to the new place and I kept complaining about my back pain. I kept thinking that I had a sprain but I began to worry when the pain didn’t go away even after a month. I eventually packed up and moved to the new place. The pain increased and I kept ignoring it until one day when I was sitting in a chair for an hour and I started getting pain radiating down all the way to my right leg. Oh dear, I knew I was in trouble. I went to an orthopedic and he just sent me away with pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs. He told me to come back after a week if pain didn’t subside. I dint want to see his face again but there I was, a week and a half later with no change. He sent me away again with new drugs and back again I was at the hospital after a week. I got some scans and he didn’t find anything wrong with me. He had the nerve to tell me that it was all in my head. I just wanted to shake him and tell him ‘It is in my back and right leg you Moron!’

After another week of anti-inflammatory drugs, I went to the ortho doc back again and said, ’either refer me to a Neurolosurgeon or order an MRI scan’. The doc must’ve finally seen it in my eyes, the pain and anger and he made the right decision of doing both before I started yelling or crying. Within a week, I was done with the MRI and I was sitting in front of a doctor who was quite plainly telling me ‘You have Lumbar SpondyloLISTHESIS and that is causing a nerve compression in your right leg, hence the sciatica and I’m afraid you have to live with it for the rest of your life’. There it was, THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE.

I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t cry. There was no fix. I was devastated.

Once I wrapped my head around what had happened (it took a few weeks), I finally called an orthopedic surgeon whom I trusted. He told me what physiotherapy I have to do and I followed his instructions. I went for physiotherapy alternating every 15 days. Not much change in my condition. I cried all the time. I was on bed rest for months which led me to put on weight. Pascal cooked for me after he came back from work, he helped me bathe, and he even fed me. He did everything for me.

I called the doc yet again and he said he could help me ease the pain. So Pascal took a week’s leave and we went to Punjab and the doc used to personally come and set up for my physiotherapy every day. A week of physiotherapy there and lots of multivitamins and my radiating pain was down by 75%. I was so happy. Some improvement is better than nothing right?

Things got better. I improved. Mom and Dad visited me. They stayed for a week. One evening, they suggested we go for a walk and I was shocked to discover I couldn’t even walk half a Km. But I probably wouldn’t have gotten out of bed if it wasn’t for that day. I then went to Bangalore for 3 months, joined the  gym, found a physical trainer who was also a physiotherapist and trained with him for three months. My life changed tremendously after that. I got better; I pushed myself too hard though, and was sick again for a while but now I know how to fix it. I know my limitations and I strive to do well.

There will always be people who do not understand me; they see my smile and joy and think ‘Oh this girl is just pretending to be sick, avoiding work, stubborn, doesn’t mingle, doesn’t socialize…etc,’ Yeah I’ve heard it all and I don’t give a damn. You can judge me. It only reflects what you are. If only you were in my shoe, but I wouldn’t wish it even on my enemy.

No matter what difficulties come your way, strive to achieve what you want. Don’t let anything get in your way. I cannot sit or stand for more than half an hour, I have to lie down or rest for 5-10 minutes every hour, but I still come up with excellent paintings and if I can achieve my goals, then you can too. 🙂

The next blog post will be more about art. Watch out for some good tips on working with oil paint. And a little bit about me 🙂


How I made my first painting.

Now that you know why I made my first painting, Let me tell you how I made it. The morning after I bought my first canvas, I waited until I finished my chores. Then I got to wonder, what shall I paint?

Hmm, that’s one big question. Well, I decided to Google painting pictures. Boy was I overwhelmed! Since I didn’t like to draw, I decided to go for something abstract; an abstract tree. I had enough sense to know that I cannot do it all at once since it is oil paint that I was working with. So I got started with the background. Blending colors on canvas was fun, and it came to me naturally. Wait, how did I know how to do that? I guess something good came out of watching my mom paint (besides the beautiful curtains). But then came the tricky part, making the tree. My husband Pascal came back home that afternoon and asked, ‘Are you done?’ Not even close, I said. I’ll draw the tree tomorrow.

Pascal is constant encouragement. He loved the background and said leave it like that. It is beautiful.

Come on, I know better than to believe that.

I wanted the tree to be perfect. But how? I took a thick sheet of paper the next day and drew an awesome looking tree.  Then I took a blade and cut it out like a stencil. Yeah, that was a lot of work.  And I was all prepared to transfer it onto the background when I touched the canvas and realized that it wasn’t dry. I smudged the background a bit, oops!  I then found out (thanks to Google again), that it takes four days to a week to dry. I waited and then once it was dry I made the tree. Believe me when I say stenciling oil paint isn’t an easy task. I finally ended up drawing the tree free hand. Getting rid of the oil from the brushes was a whole other task. I actually thought I had to wipe it off with a rag. Hmm, can you imagine that I dint know about a magic potion named ‘Turpentine’. Oh, the many number of paint brushes I’ve destroyed.

Voila! My very first painting.


Do let me know what you think in the comments below.

And yes, I still get to see the painting whenever I want to. I gifted it to my parents.

More about my experiences in the next blog post.


The start of my Journey towards being an Artist.


I’m Sylvia D’Silva and I’m an Artist. But I wasn’t always one. I was the kind of girl who would watch my mom paint fabric curtains and tablecloths and wonder,’ why is she wasting her time?’ How can anyone have so much patience?’

Honestly, my journey began out of boredom. Being an Engineering graduate, I had no job opportunities in the remote locations my husband was posted to. He is an Army Officer and I prefer living wherever he is. Having said that, living in a small town I felt trapped and I was so bored. And I was expected to cook. Well, I don’t know how much cooking I did but I sure did burn a lot of pans. I lived in Mhow with him during the first few months of my marriage. Mhow is a small town in Madhya Pradesh, India; which is famous for leather goods and paintings (Painting classes all over the place. Any Tom, Dick and Harry in Mhow, teaches painting). My husband suggested that I attend a painting class there, but I was stubborn and didn’t want to sit in a classroom and listen to anyone. Besides, I hated drawing.

Eventually, I made a few friends. One evening, Vinsilaa (Another Army wife and a good friend) invited me and my friend Ishu over to her place and said she’ll teach me decoupage-the art of decorating objects with paper cut-outs. And with that came my very first oil paint set.  I was interested because the main element in the decoupage piece was a magazine cutting and I didn’t have to draw anything. I just had to paint around it. The oil paint was something else, I loved it. I don’t know if it was the smell or the feel of it on the canvas. Once I was done with my decoupage piece, I got lazy and didn’t think about the oil paints again. Meanwhile, I got a job as a part-time Lecturer in the Military Engineering College, not to mention the fact that my husband was a student in the same college where I was a lecturer, how awkward is that? Anyway, I got busy with the job. And life went on. Seven months later, I had to pack up my belongings and move to a new place.

Hello, Madhopur; A tiny little village in the outskirts of Punjab. A stone throw distance away from the J&K border. Ugh, Imagine a Bangalore city girl living in a village where even a simple luxury such as Ice-cream during summer was something I could only dream of. I was more bored and frustrated than ever.

One evening, I visited a city called Pathankot with my husband to buy an inverter for the house since I had spent three nights in the dark due to a power cut. Pathankot is the nearest city to Madhopur at a distance of about 22kms. The first shop that I saw the minute I entered the city market was an art supplies shop, and a really big one. I knew I had nothing to do at home besides being a pretty little homemaker, and I remembered that I had a basic set of oil paints in my trunk, back at home.  So I went ahead and bought a small canvas board. I painted my very first painting that week and I WAS AWED. I really like doing this. Although I didn’t know most of the very important things I needed to know, like how to wash the oil paint off the brushes, what kind of brushes are available and so on, yet I continued painting. And oh the drying time of oil paint was very frustrating. Patience Sylvia! I told myself. But the end result was something I will never forget for the rest of my life. My husband saw it and told me I was going to be a well know artist someday. I didn’t believe him then. 🙂

I would love to take all my readers through my journey forward. This blog is going to be all about art and my crazy life.

Want to know what happened next? Watch out for more of my stories and experiences and my very first painting picture in my next post.


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