Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Painting and Perfectionism

At around 5:48 pm every Tuesday I find myself inching along I-40 towards my oil painting class. As I sit in my car, surrounded by traffic, I pray that I won't care if I'm good at it or not. I ask God to keep curing me of my perfectionism so I can just show up and have fun. I'm not going to be a professional artist, I don't even want to be a professional artist, so it's not going to matter if my pumpkin looks like an grape.

There are people who have been taking this class for years and show up on Tuesday nights for the camaraderie of painting with friends and the expert critique of the teacher. Some of them are pretty darn good and others, well, at least they are having fun! It's been nice to be surrounded by people who are taking time out of their week to do something they enjoy, whether or not it is "successful" in the world's eyes. They've been welcoming and encouraging and not one of them has made any negative comments about the shape of my fruit.

My sabbatical director was excited that I take this class. Doing something new and creative, he says, opens up new ways that we might hear from the Spirit and see new works that God is doing in us. It's been interesting to see the ways in which he is right, yet again. I don't know all that is going on in my soul as a result of this, but I do know that when I step outside, I see the world with more detail. I immediately try to figure out which colors I need to mix to get that exact color of brown of the bark of a tree or what shape brush I'd use to try to capture the curve of a leaf. Colors and contrasts are really vibrant. It probably doesn't hurt that it's autumn! But, the thing is, I'm slowing down. I'm seeing things I haven't seen before and I'm just enjoying them. I'm not thinking about what I have to get done but what I could do to try to capture that beauty on canvas if I wanted to. It feels good to soak in creation.

So, I'm thankful that God seems to be answering my perfectionist prayer on the way to class each week. I'm feeling no pressure to master the intricacies of oils and start a worldwide tour. (And unless said tour was of preschools, I think my audience would be less than impressed anyway!) I'm just simply and undeniably enjoying myself. No agenda, no strings attached, just showing up and enjoying the process and letting God continue that process in me long after I've put the paintbrush down for the night.

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