Friday, February 25, 2011

I don't want to be afraid of drawing.

Yesterday after Intern class, I stopped by a local shoe store to try to find, what I like to call, “dance feet”—nude colored, sued, sandal-like dance shoes.  They didn’t have them.  So instead of going home I went shopping with Jesus.  As I walked out of the shoe store and into Target, I felt him whisper, “I have something for you in Michael’s,” and so I marched into Target instead, knowing that I’d buy nothing.  I looked at swimsuits, shirts, jeans, shoes, wallets, jewelry… nothing.  I exited the store and trudged through the rainy parking lot to my truck.  I looked across the road at Michael’s.  And there He was again, “I have something for you in Michael’s.”  “Oh!  Like modge-podge and paint brushes and spray to finish my fundraiser,” I thought, “Or feathers for my painting!”  I headed over to Michael’s—which, in case you’re unfamiliar with Michael’s it is a craft/art supplies store.  I go in.  I wander through the aisles; beads, feathers, paints, canvases, brushes, calligraphy pens… nothing.  I can’t find the modge-podge or acrylic spray.  Near the canvases, I notice a “how-to-draw-horses” book.  Curious, I flip through.  I put it down dissatisfied with their teaching methods and confident that if I bought it all I’d do is replicate their finished product and have an absurdly unoriginal, though pretty textbook-drawing.  (I quickly stuff the lid back on my old drawing issues.) 

Jesus: “Hmm, let’s look at the sketchbooks.”  Me: “Fine.”  I turn the corner and face a wall of sketch books.  I pick up a few and put them down—confident that I’ll never need to buy another one of those.  Jesus:  “This is what I have for you.”  Me: “No.  Really? Why?  Do I have to?”  Jesus:  “This is what I have for you.”  I start looking for something I might buy.  Am I really doing this?  I hate drawing.  Spiral-bound, hardback, large, small, removable, 70lb or 60lb, PRICE, texture.   Hmm, that one is pretty… expensive.  Ugh too small, too cheap, too not for me.  And there it was:  off-white, canvas, hardback cover; not too big for transport, but not too small for using; decent paper; acceptable price.  Jesus:  “That’s the one.”  Me:  “I don’t think I want one of those; I don’t use them.” Jesus:  “That’s the one.”  I picked it up.  I put it down.  I picked it up.  I put it down.  I picked it up, and this time I walked away with it.  I grabbed some new pencils (I hate those too, but they are good for drawing—they are pretty versatile, and in this case woodless and pretty exciting).  I grab a piece of chocolate in the checkout line as a treat for being good and march back into the rain. 

So it’s gonna be like this, eh?  Apparently I’ve got some drawing issues to deal with. 

A History of Me and Art:
Growing up I loved to draw.  I don’t remember using coloring books much; they were too easy.  At six-years-old my school tested me for its Talented and Gifted Art program (TAG Art).  My mom submitted a few random drawings of mine and they scored them.  In 1994, I had the highest score ever for a child of my age at Prince Edward County Public Schools.  At seven-years-old I enrolled in the TAG Art program.  From 2nd to 4th grade I had two art classes each week—one with my regular class and the other with the TAG kids.  From 5th to 8th grade I had one hour of TAG Art five days per week.  I had the same teacher all seven years—she was great!  She never pushed me to the artistic strife of fighting myself for perfection; it was all about learning, creativity, and enjoying my friends and my gift.  Those were happy times.  In 9th grade I entered high school, teachers changed, assignments changed, grades changed, everything changed.. I stopped art pretty much until my senior year, at which point I took up doing acrylic paintings on canvas. 

I started to dabble in impressionistic art—it was less pressure and very expressive.  Gradually painting was redeemed—I’m not afraid to see my own paintings on the wall.   It doesn’t pain me to share them with friends, or to look at them myself.  My paintings are now a place of meeting God, a visual record of my personal restoration and revelation.  (And some of them are actually pretty good!) 

But still the drawing thing is tough.  Maybe it’s because… well, I actually don’t know why.  All I know is that drawing frustrates me—I know how to recreate what I see but can’t seem to accomplish it.  My eye is good; my hand struggles; my heart refuses to practice.  I view my own playful cartoon-like sketches as cop-outs (standards…), and get frustrated when I lack the patience to see the drawing though to the finish (condemnation maybe, or another standard).  How did I miss the memo that a sketch is an incomplete drawing and not a masterpiece on paper?  I know I’ve done some comparisons.. and loathing.  I was just talking to a friend about the way artists chronically loathe their work, yet see their work as themselves, and thus loathe themselves, and trying to fix it all by fixing the art which they loathe… it’s a nasty cycle.   I don’t want to be in that cycle.  It sounds like performance.   I don’t want to be afraid of drawing. 

And so, now I’m the owner of a pretty white sketchbook with 110 blank pages and two snazzy woodless graphite pencils.   I’m pretty sure Jesus has got this covered… He’s not one to lead you to Jericho’s walls and not help you take them down.  I know that there is a gift, a promise, freedom, and a facet of the Lord’s heart to be found in drawing… Jesus, help me to find it!   

"Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery." (1Ti 4:14)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Realizing the Right to Read

I graduated from my university just a little over a month ago, with a degree in English. It took me 4 1/2 years; add that to the 13 years in public school (kindergarten through 12th grade) and the 2 years of preschool/hanging out in my brother's home school lessons, and I have been in school for 19 1/2years.  I'm only 22. The transition out of academia has been nice thus far--such a relief to have no papers or exams looming overhead; though, admittedly I have tried to assign myself a paper or two already.  Despite the relief, I am still struggling to adjust to my new-found reading liberties.  Ever since high school I've not had time for endless leisurely reading, and now that the freedom is found, I don't knowwhere to begin!  For years, as a matter of self discipline, I've ignored books, their titles taunting me from the self.  When I read nothing else happens; I reject socialization, I don't care to eat, I definitely don't sleep, I don't even check Facebook, and when in school, I didn't do homework.

Now that school is out of the way, I have more time and the freedom to pick my own books, but I'm alternately bored and overwhelmed with the choices.  This very moment I have several books begging to be read:  Seabiscuit, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Eragon, A Priest and Nun and their Son, Write To Ignite, If This Were a Dream What Would It Mean, and The Importance of Being Earnest. There are also other, less pressing, books:  Anne of Green Gables (the series; I have all 6), A Picture of Dorian Gray, Sherlock Holmes (Vol 2), the last few books of Narnia, Joan of Arc, A Tale of Two Cities, etc.. A few weeks ago I read The Alchemist, and over the holidays I read Pride and Prejudice for the 10th time.

I know I'm over thinking this!  I'm still regarding my reading time as too precious to be wasted on anything but the best book.  I feel like that child adopted from a 3rd-world country that hides food for later rather than eating it, just I'm a college graduate hiding books. 

Any advice on how to acclimate myself to the freedom to read?  Anyone know any good books?