I started an art class last week after years of laying my painting aside. I remember how this journey began. I was invited to a home where a friend of mine was house sitting. It was a beautiful, old home with creaky doors and hardwood floors that echoed throughout. Behind one door, kind of in a nook of the home, was an art studio. It was primitive with a much-used, rough hewn table in the center and canvases lying about. As I viewed some of the paintings, the question came to mind, What is art? Further perusing spurned another thought, That’s nice and all, but surely I could do better. The door to the art studio creaked and moaned as I closed it behind me. My next steps would tell me that I had, unwittingly, begun my journey into art.
After first trying painting on my own in my parent’s garage, I became dissatisfied and found an art class at a craft store near there. In the beginning, I had only a few paints in a small, plastic tackle box, and some brushes. As the class progressed, so did my interest, as well as my supplies. I really enjoyed that small band of painters, consisting of both advanced and beginning painters. The teacher had a hands-off approach to teaching. She taught the basics and then encouraged us from there. If we had trouble with color or getting something to look just right, Ms. Pharris stood ready and waiting with her magic paintbrush, whose few strokes made everything come to life.
I flourished in that class and was beginning to gain more confidence. I even had visions of selling my art to friends or passersby, when it happened. I lost my job. That one event had a domino effect on everything I held dear with the art class being the first casualty. Afterwards, my days were spent looking for another job and my paintings got pushed to the back of a closet…until today.
The class I am in today is quite different. For one, we are reading a book together called, The Creative Call: An Artist’s Response to the Way of the Spirit by Janice Elsheimer. The book promises to lead its readers into a more creative life through the use of Scripture and helpful exercises. One of the exercises in the book asked, in so many words, “What did or does creative activity mean to you?” My answer was that it meant danger. My explanation behind this being that predictable things I can handle, like getting up in the morning, checking the Internet, doing a load of laundry, but allowing my spirit to roam free on a canvas or on a blank document for writing or on the keys of a piano, now that’s a whole different ball of wax. This led me to realize that my painting got pushed to the side not because of a job loss—that was simply the excuse—but because of fear.
My question to you today is, “How many of us choose not to create because of fear of the unpredictable?” “Unpredictable” could mean anything from where your paintbrush might take you or how others might react. It says in the Bible that God created us in His image and God was and is a pretty creative Dude. (I had the pleasure of seeing some of His breathtaking handiwork this summer along the coast of California.)
So maybe we humans are not really “bean counters” first and foremost, but are creative vessels and our strong sense of “working for the man” should be revised. We should still work for the man, but with “the man” changed to “our Creator.” I’m hoping that in my own effort to change my focus and work for Him through the medium of art my journey will take me to a different kind of place: a place consisting of less fear and more beauty.