Tag Archives: Art

How Art Class Messed Up My Life

Thirty-six years ago, as a senior in High School, I took my first (and only) art class.

Sure, I’d made art in elementary school, but my “art” was never notable and nobody told me I showed any particular display of talent. I was a color-inside-the-lines sort of kid.

Life somehow felt safer that way.

I’d put off taking the college-prep required art class until the very last semester of charcoal drawingHigh School. I preferred science and literature, but truthfully,  I was secretly looking forward to turning eighteen so I could drink – legally, that is – and anticipated breaking out of my small town good-girl, smart-girl reputation. I had, after all, been voted “class brain” for the yearbook. Only because, in relationship to the rest of the 130 or so members of my graduating class,  I studied more than I partied.

Yes, I dreaded the required art class more than any other. More than the Spanish class taught by a mumbling French-Canadian, more than reading The Illiad in Latin, and more than Trigonometry with the wrestling coach.

Suddenly, instead of textbooks, I had pencils of all different numbers, drawing pads, special ink pens, paints in little metal tubes and brushes with real wooden handles. On the first day of class, a vase and an apple were set up before us on a sheet-covered stool.

DRAW, the teacher said.

I only knew how to color inside lines other people drew for me.

That was true in art, and in life.

But my art teacher was tough and talented, and she ignored my protests and shame-filled whimperings.: “I don’t know how, I’ve never taken an art class before.”leaves

My guts torqued every time I looked at the other student’s creations. They “got it,” they loved it, and they were always better than me. I knew it, but she didn’t care. She was a visionary –a true artist who always saw what could be created, not what was.

And mysteriously, despite my woefully inadequate beginner attempts, she BELIEVED in me.

So I kept trying . . .

And one day, I picked up my pens and pencils and drew wild and messy and brave like she told me to.

bowl

And I liked it.

I discovered something beyond where life was just a set of equations waiting to be solved.

I experienced deep breaths, and beauty, and the reckless pursuit of creative expression.

Like an addiction, it beckoned me to drink of it, then drink even more.wine bottle

It all felt so out of control, so wrong and self-centered, that I convinced myself that’s all it was – an addiction that had no purpose – other than to turn my orderly, safe, inside-the-lines life on its head.

So when my art teacher asked for a meeting near the end of class one day, I knew what she was going to say . . .

(“Nice try Linda. I wish you the best in your future career in science.”)

I kept my head down as she started to talk, focusing on my broken fingernails.

“I think it’s a shame that you never had an art class before now.”

Yeah, whatever.

“I think you have a natural talent that’s never had a chance to be developed.”

What????? You’ve got to be kidding me! I look up and directly into her blue eyes looking intently into my green.

“In fact, I believe in you so much that I would be willing to work with you for free all summer to help you prepare a portfolio to apply to art school.”

Who was she talking about? It wasn’t the me I knew. Couldn’t she see the real me in my eyes? I was going to college to study CHEMISTRY!

And that’s what I told her. Chemistry is my future, not art.drawer pull

And it was, for one semester of college. Until I discovered a hatred for Calculus and Organic Chemistry, and found my sorry self taking pottery class and eating hamburgers and fries instead of studying my second semester. And then I ran away with my boyfriend, of course, because that’s what you did back then when you were 19 and you didn’t want to be who you were. When you didn’t know who you were. Or who God was.

I picked up my pens and pencils just a few times after that art class. The pictures here are the only history that somehow survived my purging, twenty-some years ago, of my broken mess of a past. I”m grateful my brother found them a few months ago. They help me remember.

That class, that teacher, tried to mess up my life.

If only I’d been willing to get messy.

But I’m willing now.colored pencil box

It’s time to get messy. To learn to breathe in and out, inside the creative being God made me to be.

It’s time to be BRAVE. To dare to finally embrace the joy of living outside my boundary lines of fear.

It’s time to dare to be a beginner. Again. And love myself, instead of curse myself for the mistakes and wobbly lines and imperfect mess of it all.

It’s time. It’s about time.

So I tell my 18 year-old, fraidy-cat self,  “Linda, wake up, look up, and see what God’s eyes see. Love yourself enough to let yourself be who He sees.

I am not who I thought I was.

And I can become who He created me to be.

Life is Beautiful.  It deserves all the messy, imperfect, joy-filled-coloring-outside-the-lines I can praise it with.

Every blog post I write this year will have some piece of art I create with it. It will be awkward, possibly awful, but I also know it will always be beautiful to my Daddy’s eyes. And in His eyes alone, I am found.

Won’t you join me? Let’s take our abandoned creative selves out of the closet, dust ourselves off and give ourselves permission to get messy, crazy, in love with the beauty of life!

Praying for you, and your creative, messy-in-love-with-Jesus self. Be brave in His love!

(This is my soon-to-be creative space. Lots of work to do!)my soon to be creative space

Linda Crawford

The Becoming of an Artist

Jesus is the supreme artist, more of an artist than all others, disdaining marble and clay and color, working in the living flesh.   Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh was a broken man when he first picked up his paintbrushes and pen.

He wanted to be a missionary, to follow in his father’s footsteps as a pastor.

Giving away all his possessions, he lived with the peasants he ministered to.

That wasn’t deemed fitting for a man of God.  It was deemed scandalous…and the church kicked him out.

In his brokenness, Vincent found a new purpose from God:

In that deep misery I felt my energy revive, and I said to myself, in spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I had forsaken in my discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing. From that moment everything has seemed transformed for me.

The becoming of Vincent van Gogh had begun.

He set out to paint sermons instead of preaching them.

Self-taught, Vincent professed he would rather paint people’s eyes than cathedrals, “for there is something in the eyes that is not in the cathedral.”

van Gogh

Later in life, as his brushstrokes became more bold, his colors violently vibrant, he wrote: “The uglier, older, meaner, iller, poorer I get, the more I wish to take my revenge by doing brilliant colors, well-arranged, resplendent.”

That’s coloring life beautiful.  🙂

gladiolas

Despite all the hardships and despair he suffered, and despite never receiving recognition for his art during his lifetime, Vincent van Gogh embraced beauty.

Henri Nouwen wrote of Van Gogh: “What beauty, what joy, and what ecstasy he was able to embrace. Mourning calls for dancing, dancing for mourning. Glory is hidden in pain. And in this mysterious duality that has become a duet, Vincent celebrates life.”

His brokenness became his art. His art, the sermon of his life . . . beautiful.

Praying my art, the words I attempt to paint in my own brokenness, will become a sermon of the unfailing love of my healer and redeemer.

Praying for you and the art you are creating today.

What sermons will you paint, write, create, and live?

All the broken and dislocated pieces of the Becoming of as Artistuniverse—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross. Colossians 1:20 MSG

©Linda Crawford 2013

Linda

I first shared this post on my blog, Beauty Minute, where I explore beauty–God’s handwriting–in art, music, nature, people, and brokenness.

To read more about Vincent van Gogh click on these links:

Becoming van Gogh

Van Gogh’s Letters

Van Gogh: The Life

From Preaching to Painting: Van Gogh’s Religious Zeal