It’s kind of like exercise – if you miss a few visits to the gym it gets hard to go back. Once you’re going there regularly, it’s easy to keep going. Oh, in the past few months I’ve done a little colored pencil, some sketching, and a bit of watercolor (a TINY bit). Yesterday, though, I got out the tubes of oil paint and squeezed a little bit onto the palette. I didn’t want to waste it if I lost my nerve and gave up. I ended up going through two more dollops of each color. Granted – the areas I painted are still very rough, but I’m able to see where it’s going.
The best part was how it felt to paint. This time something I read in a book kept sounding in my mind. The book is called Finding Divine Inspiration: Working with the Holy Spirit in Your Creativity and it’s written by J. Scott McElroy. The book gives several examples of some famous artists and musicians who were interviewed by the author about how they find divine inspiration. All said that they invite God to lead the way, to inspire, to equip, to enable BEFORE they start a project. I, however, didn’t do that. I’ve started this painting several times. I’ve done several studies in colored pencil and oils. I did them all on my own power. Some came close to what I wanted. I’ve even sold one of the studies. The painting process itself was riddled with insecurities and doubts. Could I do it? Could I mess it up with the next brush stroke? Would I ever be comfortable with oils? Should I even try? How long before I give up?
After reading the book, I decided to try things differently this time. I have now indeed given this painting to God. He already has me and has my talent. I felt immediately at peace and free of fear. That alone was amazing and worth it all. I painted fully aware of each brushstroke, aware that I needed more of this color or that; aware that I was being too perfectionistic and overworking it. I was relying on the knowledge base I’ve developed over many years, yet this time it didn’t cause stress. There was a joy in my heart and a calmness. It didn’t matter if I failed to make a masterpiece. I could always start over or paint something else. It just mattered that I continue trying and enjoy the experience of it. The painting belongs to God and it will go wherever he sends it. It will bless someone, I think.
I have a long way to go. I ran out of a key color and can’t get back to it until I have a new tube. My next step is to lay in more of the background on the left side. I need to begin establishing the values and contrasts. I want their faces to glow and to stand out in the darkness. They’re very young children so I need their faces to be a bit smooth, but not overworked. This first coat of color on top of the underpainting is going in the right direction. I feel hopeful. As it progresses, I’d like to post progress photos here on my blog.