Most of you know that I am not an artist. If I have any artistic gifting, it’s in the musical arts. I’m not gifted in dance, drama, drawing, painting, sculpting or anything else that is artistic. I really wish I were. I barely can draw a decent stick person (ask my confirmation class, which witnessed this unfortunate fact firsthand last night!).
I’m intimidated when someone wants me to create something. I never know what to do. I feel really inadequate and silly. There are good people who have tried to convince me that art is subjective…that everyone is an artist…that I have undiscovered talent.
I figure they just don’t understand how untalented I really am!
Yet, despite the shortcomings of their youth director, I have an incredibly talented youth group. They are exceptional in many ways, but one thing I had never given them the chance to do is create actual paint on canvas works of art. We’ve done posters and pictures and even clay sculptures–pretty simple things, which is how I was comfortable to keep it.
Mocking, terrifying, blank canvas.
“What do I do with this?” I wondered out loud.
First, I figured out how they came to be in my office. One of our members–an actual, genuine artist named Sharon–bought them on sale at Dick Blick and placed them there. She did this at request of the church’s Property Committee. The Property Committee was hoping that the youth group could turn them into works of art that could be hung for a short while in the choir hallway of the church.
Second, I decided not to drag my feet (which is what I am tempted to do when I am out of my comfort zone). I called Sharon and asked her to tell me what I should get at the art store. She made me a list. I also asked her if she could help me launch a creative arts ministry for our youth group. She agreed to come to the first session and teach the students some painting techniques and do some coaching. She thought that was a good idea and I breathed a giant sigh of relief.
I was nervous about the first night. Would the students know what to paint? Would they like painting? Would they feel good about what they were painting?
The answer to all of those questions is yes. Something incredible happened, in fact. With some basic instructions from Sharon, they got right to it and created some pretty good first paintings. Last night, they had session two and barely waited for Evonda, last night’s art coach, to arrive before they dove right in and started painting.
While they are painting, I am with the younger students of our confirmation class. Tonight, after class was dismissed, we ventured out into the gym. At the same time, several parents were coming into the building. We all gathered in the art area, where students were now cleaning brushes and putting supplies away. There was a moment of awe, really, as we looked at the newly painted pieces of art. Each creation was so different. They had worked together, singing together, discussing this and that, praising each other’s efforts, yet each of their pieces of art had a distinct feeling, as if they had each been working alone.
Rev John would say, “That’ll preach!”
Their artwork is beautiful and wonderful, for sure, but I have a feeling that the process of creating it was even more beautiful and wonderful and fun. We all need our community to inspire us and encourage us as we create and live our lives. I’m grateful for the people God has placed around me because I know that I owe most of my good ideas and inspiration to their words and actions in my life. I’m also grateful for my youth group kids who know exactly what to do with canvas, brushes and paint!