Wednesday 3 March 2010

use the whole palette of your being

tubes of boldmer acrylic paint

So it is with every artisan and master artisan who labours by night as well as by day….they set their heart on painting a lifelike image, and they are careful to finish their work        (Ecclesiasticus 38:37)

For we are God’s work of art          (Ephesians 2:10)

The tubes of acrylic paint lying in the tray wait to have their seemingly limitless potential explored by the artistic desire of someone willing to express themselves in brushstrokes of vivid colour. Close by, the blank emptiness of white canvas taunts the imagination and dares it to disrupt the pristine surface with something worthy of its sacrifice. Painting can be a daunting task, as for most of us converting imagination into artwork is seldom a lossless process. Unless we are particularly adept and skilled, the pure signal of inspiration gets so easily degraded and corrupted between brain and brush. For this reason the finished work can be disappointing rather than satisfying when judged by the artist against their private and hidden inner picture of perfection.

Such self critical judgement can prevent us from developing our creativity. Comparisons with the work of others may simply exacerbate this sense of not being good enough and stifle our natural ability to express ourselves artistically. And in the process we become stunted and held captive; unwilling or unable to take the caps off the tubes, squeeze out the colour, and swirl paint freely onto the blank canvas. This is a tragic denial of our uniqueness.

The same is true when it comes to painting our lives and expressing what it is to be fully and authentically human. If we are to be a truly lifelike image of humanity at its best then we need to use the whole palette of our being. Why be limited to one or two colours when you have a whole box of paints available to you just by being the you that you are? If we are God’s continuing work of art we should expect love to liberate, nurture and develop our whole being, not just selected bits of it. All our potential is there to be expressed in vivid colours on the canvas of our life. Our vocation as disciples is to become artists of grace, painting bright brushstrokes of love and hope across the emptiness of being. And when together we offer our palettes to each other we can create amazing communal works of art which have the power to transform the way we see the world. In some places this process is called church. At its best it is where we are encouraged to be authentically and creatively who we are as God’s work of art.

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