Updated: Nov 4, 2022
Read Part 1 here
The earliest memory I have of creating was being very little, maybe even a toddler. I was sitting in a driveway in the gravel. I had assembled a pile of rocks, sticks, a metal bowl with a mix of dirt and water and I was building.
Stacking stones, gluing with the muddy mix, artfully arranging the sticks, and adding a well placed leaf here and there for flare.
Did anyone teach this little girl to take everyday, seemingly ordinary, materials and put them together to build a structure? No, she was just playing. She wasn't afraid of what someone would say about her creation. She wasn't hesitant about whether she'd make a mistake or not. She was freely creating with no opposing thought. She was full on in artist mode without having the defining term that gave her the "permission" to create. We witness kids doing this all the time.
I remember many times like this, building structures in the woods behind my Grandparent's house where time passed joyfully...I didn't even consider time passing. It wasn't even a thought that I hadn't been back for a snack or anything. It was joy and freedom with no limits.
Do you have similar memories? Have you had this experience as an adult?
Does it take you back to a time before a nasty word, a judgment, a physical encounter, something you saw that took your innocence, or a decision you made had left it's mark on you?
Whether you are reading this as a creative, artist, or someone who works in another field, I believe you are not here by accident.
What causes us to be stalled in creating anything? Whether it's making a painting that the world will see or creating a pleasing and informative spreadsheet for your new boss, it's often in the first step or in making that first mark that finds us stuck.
But allow me to talk in the case of the artist for a moment. I'm sure that most everyone will find a nugget for themselves as I share.
In Part 1 of "6 Words that Changed my Art forever", I spoke about how the phrase "Paint the Opposite of Your Pain" was like a directional sign for me that made me take a bold first step after standing at a crossroads as an artist and really as a human having experienced deep pain.
Having the realization that others needed a message of hope and healing and having a confirmation that this is what my art has always been about, the call to go deeper into a ministry of creating visual reminders for people to stay the course, be strong, seek truth, and loving on them in an artful way was what I would be doing in creating art the rest of my life.
But what was the first step?
I relate it to the intimidation I've experienced of approaching a blank canvas with a big vision.
The vision is usually bigger that my ability and quite a stretch for me, but coming to the place where the vast blankness of the canvas is before me, loaded brush in hand, and who this painting might be for, I'm faced with making that first mark.
We can have it all together, all the supplies and information we need, and still get tripped up when it comes to that first mark.
Because all the the gathered materials, supplies, even the vision will just sit there lifelessly and occupy space until you interact with it, it means that you are the difference. What you have is the "magic" if you will. Nothing happens until the hand of the artist, the creator, makes the first move.
This moment is significant...that is why the push back can be so strong in this moment.
That seems to be when the lies, which are the residue left by the pain in our lives, come back to limit and define and create a fear that keeps us in hesitation.
I believe more than I can express that the first step in battling this is just make that mark!
It's not going to be wrong or something that isn't fixable. It's the first strike in opposition to the lie that says..."this won't be good enough", "you can't do this", or "who do you think you are?"
When we take that first step, make a mark when you've never painted before, write the first word of that book that is on your heart, apply for that job, sign up for that class, confront that bully, make the phone call, share your story....you know what happens to that initial fear?....it disappears because that's all the power it had.
What just happened is one step into newness that is fresh with adventure and joy.
AND...I love this part! The more we do it, the better we get at it.
I even have an expectation that it's coming and I'm ready for it. How cool is that?!
In that very significant moment, we've acted in opposition and we are in the act of living out the fact that we are Overcomers.
I pray a return to that childlike creative freedom for all of us.
Even though pain and the residue that is left may try to keep us from creating worthy works that will have impact, may we know that making our mark in the world, in our circle of influence, begins with just the act of making that first mark.
I'll be talking about the process in Part 3