Saturday, August 6, 2011

About a week

Someone once asked "What's the difference between a bad haircut and a decent haircut?" The anwer was "about a week". I never forgot that, and this morning, I realized that it applies to more than just hair.
Last week, I despaired over a painting. No matter what I did, it was not what I wanted it to be.My mind and hand would not cooperate. After 4 rounds, I took it off the easel and turned it away from me, in disgrace. In actuality, I felt in disgrace. I said the right words, and willed myself to try something else. But I felt derailed, as usual.
So, I willed myself to keep working- started another one, which was causing me equal frustration. This morning, as I was walking by my little makeshift studio area, I didn't decide to have a painting session. I just picked up a brush to fix a little something. Before I knew it, 2 hours had gone by, and both paintings were done. ish. They are not signed. So, here is last week's which turned into this week's. Although it is not my favorite, and there are areas that i think are still not working, it is "decent".  It's not destined for the garbage can anymore.
One thing that helped was looking at other artist's interpretations of this same type of landscape. I found one artist whose work I really liked, and he shows in real live galleries, and had a bit of "me" in his work. That is, I saw that he interpreted some aspects of landscapes the same way that I would, but he had the edge over me. His brushwork showed the confidence that I feel I lack. As I looked at his online gallery, I felt hopeful, and remembered that "it" doesn't happen overnight, and requires effort, time, and patience. Not magic.
And it's the same with us...I so often forget that I am God's workmanship. He has created me, and is seeing to it that the work is completed. I think sometimes that He wants to turn my canvas away in disgrace, or that I am hovering over the garbage can...that is not the truth. Not HIS truth. Unlike me, He has never looked at this unfinished canvas and thrown up His hands in despair over me. He is untiring in His work, and will work until it's finished.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

God notices.

I woke up thinking about a lot of things. One of which was this woman who graciously let me take her picture last year when I went to the DR. Someone translated for me what she said after I snapped the photo. "Now that you have me in there (the camera), you have to take me with you." I don't know if she meant that literally, or figuratively, but she did not realize that her words would stay with me.
I took her photo because I noticed her. I thought that she was beautiful. Her hair and skin, her simplicity. Mostly her eyes. I think about this image- a split second of her life- and I feel compelled to paint her. I am procrastinating because I stink at portraits, and because I don't want to fail (her). But, eventually I hope to gain enough skill, and courage.
So, she was in my thoughts again this morning. And I realized that one of the reasons I am so bad at remembering conversations may be because I am noticing things other than what is said with words. Like the way the light is falling across a cheek, or the transparency of a cornea, or the contour of an earlobe and the shadow it has cast on the neck. Yes, it's true. And as I am noticing those things, I am wondering how to represent them with a brush- what mix of colors is that skin tone? Would I paint that in a thin wash, or with a bit more paint? No kidding...I realized 3/4 of the way through a construction zone the other day that I was even in one. I had been "painting" the cumulous clouds- actually I was REpainting these new ones onto a failed painting from last week...So at some point, when I "came to" and realized I was in a construction zone, it was a little freaky. I laughed! All this to say...God has created me and built me and wired me a particular way. And He has implanted in me some of what makes Him...well, Him. He notices everything, everyone. (Ok...He would have known that He was in a construction zone). There is nothing that escapes His notice. Not even our suffering- what grieves us, grieves Him. When I feel anxious, He is saying "Cast your cares upon Me".  He hears. And He sees.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Boats, boats, boats

We went to Maine a month ago, via Gloucester and Rockport, Mass. (which are destinations in themselves). There was something about the boats. And the reflections, and the patterns formed by rows of them- rarely neat and orderly- more often messy and haphazard. Nevertheless, they caught my attention. Here are a few of them.
I also purchased a book while I was there, in a bookstore that sold mostly used books. It was a journal, written about 40 years ago by an artist named Anne Truitt. She wrote about her joys, struggles, and epiphanies in working her art, nurturing her family, facing the public, and finding her voice. She quietly and occasionally reflects on God and her reverence for and trust in Him. It has been a challenging and inspiring read. I am slowly savoring it.