Just Paint…

September 16, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

An artist friend wrote :

“… might have to stand back. it is when you do that–the whole picture makes sense.” — D. L. King

That’s the quote I’d been looking for to gather together my recent thoughts.

Sometimes when I’m painting a mural, standing a foot away from the wall, I feel panicked. The brush strokes make no sense. The colors seem wrong. I hate myself for not being a better artist. Then something pulls me away just as I am about to take my brush and scribble violently over the whole thing.

This experience seems to play out on so many levels. Lately, the world has chased a lot of us up against our own walls and we are staring at them, shouting at them to change because we refuse to believe that we have the power to transform them. The idea of picking up a brush and some paint seems frivolous and useless. We’ve lost all perspective, so sure that someone is trying to take away the creative rights to our lives that we have forgotten about the grace that will reveal the image for us if we would just agree to pick up the brush and start painting.

Those who have been fortunate enough to find just the right highlight in their lives often cast a shadow that further darkens the efforts of those who haven’t found the strength to start again. Rather than extend the mercy that could be the catalyst that is needed, they shout “it’s my paint and you can’t have any! Go get your own!” The intended image becomes even muddier.

But what the highlight folks don’t understand is that the shadow is key to bringing out the dimension of the whole picture. Without it, the highlights overwhelm and the depth of the whole is lost. The secret is in learning how to balance the highlights and shadows, allowing each to contribute to revealing the rich mid-tones of our world.

No matter how many paintings I do, I will always experience this feeling of panic. I will stomp to the back of the room with hot tears burning my cheeks, furious. Sometimes I will even feel the urge to cause myself physical pain. But then an unseen hand will touch my shoulder and turn me around, saying, “Look at what you’ve created…” Blinking to recover my focus, I will witness an epiphany. What looked so wrong up close will look extraordinary from a distance. The flat, frustrating ugliness will reveal a dimensional invitation for transformation. And once again, I will understand the changes I need to make — what to paint over and what to make more prominent  — It will make perfect sense!

Yet, as beautiful as my life seems at times and as good as the highlights feel, I will always be in search of the shadow. I hate the pain of looking at it, but when I am given the grace to walk away and allow distance to restore my perspective — it is in that moment of revelation that I experience pure joy…. Thanks for the reminder, D.L.K….

(see more murals)

  1. September 16, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Brilliantly couched description of why life is a melding, not melting pot! Please, please keep searching the shadows…and keep gifting your readers with such wonderful and heartfelt inspiration! Brilliant!

  2. Susan Steele
    September 17, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Beautiful piece…I find so much truth in what you have written.

  3. Mickey Grooters
    November 28, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    this is just extraordinary – the writing itself is luminous- and what you are saying is so exactly where I am right now. Gonna print it off and read it for a week then I will respond in a message to you. thank you for your artistry in mural, and word, and thought.

  4. November 29, 2011 at 3:12 am

    Perspective. It is what we are all missing from our lives so often and what you provide so brilliantly in your writing. Thank you for reminding us all to step back and admire both the colors and the shadows in our lives. It is a gift we all can use. Thank you.

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