Maybe if there were bright orange blinking lights right ahead of us we would take notice, but that doesn’t usually happen with our creative work. No, we usually don’t pay close enough attention and then we fall smack dab in the middle of one of the most deadly creative pitfalls-wanting to have it all figured out RIGHT NOW! Yes, we want to know how our creative projects are going to turn out. We want to know that customers are going to purchase our work before we offer it for sale. We want to be guaranteed that other people are going to love our work before we even make the work. We want to know a new technique we long to experiment with is going to “work” before we buy the art supplies to try it. Oh, there is just so much uncertainty in this whole creative thing!
I wish I could tell you it is all going to work out. I wish I could tell you that you will sell out the first print run of your new book or sell everything at your first art show. I wish I could guarantee you that the new technique you long to try is really going to work, but I can’t. I would hate for you not to have the practice of growing your own creative muscles. We don’t grow many muscles the first time we lift weights-it is the continual repetition that produces strength.
One of the biggest roadblocks to developing an ongoing creative practice is that most artists give up. We have a hard time dealing with uncertainty. We don’t give ourselves time for work to develop, to learn new techniques, or to take the long view. We want it all and we think we want it NOW. But, our creativity shouldn’t be at the service of our instant gratification needs. Our creative practice is one thing that may help us to counteract our “need to have it now” mentality. It may be the thing that develops our inner fortitude to keep going when things aren’t clear-when the path isn’t known. It is a skill and a muscle we all need to have as we traverse real life. We don’t get everything we want, when we want it. Everything doesn’t always work out perfectly. Not everyone is going to like your work or “get” your work, but there are people out there who will. Sometimes starting a new technique will lead you to new directions you couldn’t have imagined before.
When the resistance builds,
when you have a set back,
when things don’t go exactly as you planned,
that is not the time to give up.
You don’t need to have it all figured out. It is a journey and there are going to be switch backs and missed turns.
Why dear creative heart would you go on an adventure if you knew everything before you ever left home?
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It’s a blank canvas sort of day here. I added another coat of gesso to the canvas on the table in the quiet early this morning.
I have another table of small canvases ready for the first layers of paint. Getting excited…excited to see what is going to emerge next. It’s like a whole table full of possibility and I really have no idea what is going to burst forth. I’ve got plans, ideas, thoughts, sketches, hunches, but until the paint starts to hit the canvas it all is a bit of mystery waiting to unfold. Feeling like a metaphor of life right now…waiting for a new school year to unfold, preparing for new work in the studio, prepping for upcoming shows, planning for the fall…can’t wait to see what will develop.
A frequent question to me over the last few weeks has been “what ARE you doing now?” Each of our journeys has varying twists and turns. My own journey took a twist this past August when I resigned from my part-time church ministry staff position. For months God had been showing me and nudging me to make some changes, but that is never easy to do. Change is a process-equal parts excruciating and exhausting and exhilarating. So often change can be such a big, scary, ugly word and yet it is a to be expected, can’t be avoided, totally natural part of life. And, when God is moving and speaking into your life, change is going to be constant. There are going to be things you do that are difficult, things that look risky, things that don’t make sense to others not in your shoes. And, there are going to be voices-lots of voices-telling you, encouraging you, urging you to do and be a certain way. I read somewhere recently that “it’s never dangerous being who you are” and I had to smile to myself. I’m not sure that is true-in fact, I think we live most of our lives afraid to be who we really truly are because of the sheer fact it is so dangerous. Linda Coons writes in The Artists Soul, “it is hard emotional work to be ourselves when we need to defy conventional rules to be who we honestly are.” But, you see, falling in love with Jesus changes the way you operate in this world. It makes you not care so much what those “conventional rules” may be. It makes you make choices based on things other people may not understand. It makes you look at your life differently. You make sacrifices, which is never a word we like to talk about in polite North American society. When you know deeply-into the very deepest parts of your being-that you were created in His image with a work designed just for you to do-it changes the way you live and think and look at life. So often I have lived my life focused on things that were slowly shriveling my heart- trying to please, trying to achieve, trying to do “the right thing”. I can immerse myself in amazing, whirling amounts of activity, while loosing me on the inside. So, in answer to the question “what are you doing now?” I’m creating (new paintings). I’m listening (taking walks and spending time focusing on inner work). I’m studying and I’m writing (I’m piecing together new curriculum for classes I would like to teach). I’m giving attention to some long-overdue things. I will continue to share the journey here on my blog.
I plan on sharing more of the pieces from my summer show on the blog, along with the descriptions I wrote for each piece. Here is the first…
A Road Less Traveled- from “Inside Out” Summer 09
What I have learned is that not only do I have permission to paint with any color in the crayon box, but I have permission to paint about any emotion or experience that I encounter as well. And, some of the things I have encountered are not easy, especially when it involves looking at my own weaknesses. I would like to pretend that as a “good, Christian woman from the suburbs in the Midwest” I have no difficulties, no pain, no struggles- I know how to put on that “Dutch front” we are so skilled at constructing, but where is the honesty, the authenticity in that?
Paul, an apostle of great passion, shares about his own conversation with God… But he said to me “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. II Corinthians 12:9
“We tend to view our weaknesses as liabilities. Since our worth does not depend on us in any way, we can and must be honest about our weakness. Our weaknesses become areas in which God can do His greatest work. We ignore weakness, bury it, live in denial but a powerful life embraces pain, brokenness and weakness. Perfection is for heaven not for earth”. W. Dyrness
And, so, I work on my weakness, confront my insecurities, challenge my internal assumptions about “how life is” and continue to fight the battle of allowing myself to walk in true freedom.
It’s a new day and time for a new blogging home. This will be my new place for encouraging fellow artists with a special emphasis on exploring the edges between faith and art. I’m so excited to share with you some of the new journeys and the many books, websites, and experiences that have inspired and encouraged me. If you are interested in my past blog, feel free to visit Scrapbook with Passion. It’s not that I’m not scrapbooking anymore- I still enjoy keeping my family stories and photos and journeys. Scrapbooking has been a great hobby for me as I was raising my young children and a natural fit as an industry to begin sharing my fine art. But, over the last few years my work has continued to blossom and grow into new areas.
I’ve been climbing up this mountain one step at a time. Encountering much change and transformation along the journey. I’m sure I’m going to loose my footing again, get scared about falling and maybe even ask myself again and again why I started up this mountain in the first place. But, I’ll never regret it-never be ashamed of reaching deep for who I am to be in this world.
Can’t wait to get everything that has been rolling around in my brain and heart here on the blog.