Did you know that I used to be "into" art? I bet not.
I was, though. When I was in elementary school, I used to come home from school and watch drawing and painting shows on PBS. Sometimes I would have paper out and even draw along. As I got older, I expanded into watercolors and other mediums. I even tried random stuff like woodburning and sand art (and mercifully quit them). I was interested in other creative-type things, too, the occasional poem, perhaps, and later on music, but really, art was my main thing, and it is the only thing I can remember that I ever did consistently, year after year. I wanted to grow up and be an artist one day and planned on that for many, many years.
Sadly, at some point early on in high school I came to the conclusion that "art" was not a valid career, and would not make me "enough money," whatever that meant (yes, this was my actual attitude back then. No, I am not proud of this.). I decided that I would become a physicist, hopefully work for NASA one day, thus bringing in the big money. Just like that.
To be fair, I was having other issues at the time, too, like depression, that started to cloud my perception of my life, and made what art I was doing get darker and darker. I wasn't even bothering to ask God what He thought about things in high school. By the time I got to college, I had pretty much quit art altogether. I did take a photography class to meet a requirement, which I did enjoy. I did some creative-ish things, but nothing really hands-on, nothing like what I'd done back when I was younger. I wasn't really concerned about this, either, because all I remembered by the time I left college was those dark years of high school art, and who wanted to revisit that? Not I. I kept doing photography on a pretty minimal basis, hardly enough to even call it a hobby. That was about it.
Then about 3 years ago, the fall of 2008, I went through this crazy-good time of completely having God overhaul my insides, my soul, and all that darkness (that had persisted even past college) finally lifted. During this time, I went to a church conference in Toronto, and I had this vision of a picture in my head while I was there, and suddenly I wanted to paint it. I hadn't done anything like that in at least 8 years, I'd not even had any type of desire to do it. But I did, I went home and painted it. I was ecstatic, because it was this part of me that had completely died, and I knew God wanted to redeem it somehow. I painted a few more times, tentatively testing the waters, but getting more and more excited each time I finished something. I felt like I was getting a whole piece of myself back.
Then my dad died at the end of that year.
And some darkness came back, not nearly as much as before, but enough that I never thought I would be able to do art again, ever again. I never thought I'd get much more creative than a cute thank you note now and then. I had absolutely no desire to do it, one reason being that emotionally I knew if I tried I'd start connecting with all my grief, and I didn't want to go there.
It's taken a loooooong time to heal from that experience. I'm still healing in some ways, to be honest, but finally, earlier this year I was pushed by Holy Spirit to paint a picture. I'd been listening to a conference over the web by Jesus Culture, and was worshipping along, minding my own business, when I "heard" Him again. Just a little one, He said. Nothing intimidating. It didn't have to be good. Just try. Mind you, this came after months and months of me fighting this very thing, ignoring it, trying to push that voice away, even though I knew deep down I wanted to do it, that it was a vital part of myself that needed to be allowed to live again.
So I gave in, and I painted, and I made this one here. It's just a little guy, kind of an icebreaker.
Then, a few months later, I made another one, a collage.
Then, earlier this summer I painted another, this time for a friend.
With each piece I've done (even though each time I have to force myself past the "I don't want to/I'm afraid to!" feelings), I've gotten more excited, and it stirs up more and more creativity inside of me, not even just in art, but in other areas. And each time, it's gotten a little easier to begin.
(To be continued. . . )