Here are some snapshots from my artistic life when I’ve bared, shared, and written things that I didn’t know if anyone would understand. Moments when I shared paintings with people I don’t know. Points in time when I made the decision to proceed rather than to pull inward:
- Inhale, hold breath — I just went to my first writing group and handed people copies of my writing. The first time that I ever shared anything that I wrote.
- Yikes! What had I done — I just hit the Enter key on my keyboard and agreed to publish a book.
- Are you kidding? I just registered as an artist in Art Prize.
- I have no picture to accompany a blog post so I’ll draw something groan-worthy in MS Paint. Is it too silly?
In each instance I cringed, wondering if I was making a fool of myself or opening a new door in my life. However, the drive to share was compelling.
Rewarding snapshots from my life I’ve received as a writer and artist:
- “Your essay made me feel like I’m not alone in the world.”
- “We are excited to connect with you as your Venue for ArtPrize 2015! We are thrilled to be showing your work!”
- “I have seen your board on Pinterest, and have to thank you for making me feel that I am not alone!”
- “Bought your book for my father (3 years post op for removal of AN) and he said, ‘it’s like I wrote the book.’ Passing it through the family so we can understand more what he is dealing with.”
Discouraging snapshots from my life as a writer and artist also happen, but I’m pretty good at denial, rationalization, and seeing rejection as a closed door redirecting me to a better path. I’m also vastly capable of self-pity, and wallow in it as I process life lessons. However, before long I get sick of myself and look for the next step to take. There’s always a new direction, new adventure, or a new opportunity. Artistic work is subject to interpretation and garners rejection as much or more than acceptance and praise. Acceptance without any rejection feels unbalanced. Rejection hones our skills as much or more than success.
Blogging allows me to think out loud. I’m merely talking and hoping that someone will hear me. I exhale feelings and observations. I write through things to figure them out, to better understand, to process what I’m experiencing. When someone comments on something I wrote, I feel satisfaction to know that what I wrote meant something to another human being. No currency of material worth has passed, but the currency of love, compassion, and connection was paid in full.
Painting is something that I do because it’s fun but am still surprised when someone sees beauty in my work. I love the medium of melted beeswax because if I don’t like it I apply heat to melt it down. Or I may apply a scrapper to remove layers of neatly applied colors. Conversely, I may delicately carve details into a piece that is coming along nicely to add accents or focus. When a piece speaks to someone and they see something in it that I hadn’t, I realize that art shared is no longer owned by my own perception.
I question why God placed a strong desire to share within me. Why can’t I just kick my feet up on the desk and read a book? Why do I feel that need to make others feel understood and to be understood? Why do I feel that strong responsibility for my fellow human beings? Why do I keep exposing who I am and what’s going on inside? I feel squirmy when I feel vulnerable but am driven to produce pictures with words and paintings with wax. Being vulnerable means being open to damage. However, without vulnerability, we live in an insulated life.
Vulnerability is what Jesus bared through his journey on earth. Jesus was drawn to vulnerable people. Baring of our hearts and souls is something that the God of our universe desires and blesses. While he’s the creator of each atom in the world’s most valuable diamonds and gold, he cares most about what is not tangible – but what’s in our hearts and relationships.
Vulnerability makes us stronger. Writers draw readers with vulnerability. Sharing what is lurking in pockets of our minds and hearts allows others to recognize their own reflection in a pond of words. Being understood and cared for is one of our strongest and most basic needs and cannot be attained by being alone and closed.
So, as much as I would like to disappear into the forest, a need for relationships draws me into the world. The desire for connection keeps me tethered to earth. The reward of touching someone’s heart keeps me going. It keeps me being vulnerable. It keeps me creating. It keeps me humbly remembering how tiny our vulnerabilities are in the eyes of God. Snapshots of joy are to be shared with others.