The Oily Marks and Life’s Surprises

I made this when I was in high school. It was eleventh or the twelfth grade and I was taking Advanced Studio Art class from a very good teacher I loved. Every class, we had the abundance of materials, pencils, paints, inks, papers, cardboards, brushes, anything you could think of. Everyone was very talented and worked on their projects while listening to the songs from our teacher’s playlist. Everyone was at their own pace and own imagination. I was working with a blue coloring pencil only, on a gray sketch paper.

I don’t know how much you can see from this picture but it is actually a close-up of jeans. I loved playing with the shadows and the folding areas with one color only. I worked on this painting/drawing for weeks with patience and joy.

After weeks of hard work I came to the class and took out the painting from the cupboards we all used to store our work when we leave the class. There were big oily drops

or marks especially the upper center. The marks were so obvious on the nearly finished monochromatic piece that there was no way I could leave them as they were.

Maybe my teacher was more disappointed than me. We looked at the painting for a long time to see how to fix it. Then I thought of something that could work. I could make additional oil marks all around the painting and darken the shadows with oil. Then the original marks would all be blended in with the painting, or it would be worse and beyond any repair. The next day my teacher brought cooking oil and cotton so that I would work n my new endeavor. Surprisingly, I fearlessly started add oil marks here and there to the shadows and all the places that looked appropriate to me. And surprisingly again, the painting started to look better than before. There was a new layer to deepen the colors and shadows.

Finally it was all done. My teacher loved it. And I was impressed as well. I am not saying to brag about my talent or anything. I just saw the whole situation as a big life lesson.

  1. An unfortunate event can turn out to be a blessing. You just have to stay calm and adopt a new perspective.
  2. I am not saying someone purposefully left those marks to ruin the painting. I know nothing about how it happened and what those marks are. And I don’t care. But if someone left those marks on purpose than she/he did a favor to me because without this layer my painting would be missing some spark (and story of course).
  3. Trusting the journey and enjoying the process without worrying about the outcome will make every step more pleasant and make the outcome more surprisingly beautiful.
  4. Some steps need to be taken without any fear. You need to give up to pursue the perfect and keep trying instead.

These are the lessons that comes to my mind regarding this memory of mine. There could be many more depending on your needs and perspectives.

Oh and there is one more blessing that came out of this incident. I wrote about this story in one of the college application questions about creativity and I went to that college!

Therefore, however the oil marks found their ways to the painting, I am thankful for that person or the event. This is life, full of surprises coming from unexpected times and places. Maybe we just need to be patient and enjoy the trials in our lives.

So let this be the 2023 message from me. I hope this year is a wonderful one.



4 thoughts on “The Oily Marks and Life’s Surprises

  1. What a nice story, Öykü!

    I’m not sure which teacher this was (I assume Downs or Baykal-Rollins) but I would add that another lesson learned was the capacity of a good teacher to use an unfortunate situation as a positive learning event. (Remember, I’m a teacher after all . . . !) .

    Well done, and fond best wishes to you both,


    John R. Chandler 126 Seal Cove Road Phippsburg, ME 04562 Home: (207) 389-2228 Cell: (207) 841-5998 Skype: jrchandler

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Mr. Chandler!
      You are right, my teacher was Mr. Baykal-Rollins. I learned a lot from him about art and life, he was a great teacher!
      I am so lucky about teachers. Övgü and I are grateful to keep in touch with you.
      Sending our best wishes,


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