If you look through my Instagram, you will find that I try to post various stages of watercolor paintings along the way. My works in progress.
I have a confession to make. Sometimes, well, often these can be very difficult to post. Let me explain.
There seems to be a point during a watercolor painting, which I’ve been known to call “the ugly stage”. It’s a place where sometimes my mind struggles to think what the finished piece might look like. The point where I have a choice to make. Where, if any hesitancy or procrastination on my part creep in, whether fueled by feelings of doubts, thoughts of inadequacies, comparisons, faltering self-confidence or fear; I stop working on the painting. It’s the place where, if I do not lean in and trust the process and press on, I can easily give up. It is in that waiting space, that work in progress stage, that I must choose my next step.
Have you ever felt that way?
It can be easy to park one’s self in that waiting space. One thing I’ve learned (lesson most learned by mistakes, let me tell you) is to grow creatively as an artist, one needs to lean in and press on. How easy it can be to stay and get lost in that waiting space; park there, paralyzed in the land of fear, doubts, comparisons. How long I stay there in this waiting, is a choice. I’m getting better at this, but like my own self growth, this is a work in progress. Leaning in and pressing on requires trusting in the truth of knowledge that you have either acquired or are currently gaining. When I lean in and press on, I can then begin to see how the final painting may turn out. The trusting and pressing on is growth. Perhaps my final painting will not be what I at first envisioned it will be. Perhaps it will be better, perhaps it will be a painting that I will look back and see something I learned in the process of applying the layers. Moving forward, applying the watercolor, are choices. If I don’t like the waiting process, the blending of the colors I’ve selected or steps I’ve made; I can’t blame anything or anyone else, even if I’d like to. The brush stops with me. Groan.
In watercolor painting you can choose watercolors with different type of properties. Some watercolor paints are transparent, some are semi-opaque, and some are opaque. Each color is beautiful and has its value in its own way. The longer that I have painted and observed other artists’ watercolor works, I can see that paintings that use primarily layers of transparent colors seem to be more vibrant and allow the white of the paper reflected through when I choose them. I’m learning.
I’ve often reflected on the similarities between watercolor painting and life. How easily it can be to sit and get lost in places or seasons of life that seem ugly, the unknowns, the what if’s, the comparisons, the doubts, people pleasing, the fear. I’ve been thinking a lot about how art imitates one’s life. Now, there seems to be a trend towards this thinking, and sometimes you see it referred to art therapy. I don’t know about all that, I just know what I’ve been thinking and reflecting on. What I’ve been processing on. And, I’ve been in that parked place, that place of hesitancy to share what I’ve been thinking about because of all those same thoughts and feelings that can so easily be felt when painting in watercolor. I have this trait that wants to know all the details or processes sometimes before I start something, and if I don’t, I can be hesitant to proceed out of fear of failure or my “lack of”. And, since I don’t see all the details and how the processes of what I have been reflecting on will be shared best with you, I have been parking in the waiting process, the work in progress stage. How will this develop, these reflections between watercolor painting and life? I don’t know. I’m hoping that you will explore this with me, with your patience and with kindness, because I
fight have the tendency to ramble. Most of all, I’m praying that it will be a source of encouragement for each of us.
I have been thinking for quite some time how watercolor painting, how creativity can work together and imitates and/or encourage spiritual growth in life. Specifically, it imitates our spiritual growth and can be a means of encouraging one’s another’s spiritual life. Art imitates life. My thoughts are the creative process is another avenue that can be utilized to connect with the hole that we all have in us to draw closer, be near and be blessed by God. We all have this thing inside of us that wants to be loved. That draws us to find love. It is a hole that we try to fill. For each of us we try to fill it in different ways.
As I go through life I can choose to be transparent or I can be opaque or semi-opaque. My life finds vibrancy if I choose to be transparent and let light shine through. This I am also learning. Too often I can easily hide behind traits and fears that have tried to worm their way into me off and on since my youth. Feelings like self-worth, self-value, or people pleasing, mainly fear. Depending on the waiting period or season of life I’m in I can either process these thoughts, lean in and press on or just wallow around in there, sometimes even trying to reassign blame of my choices on others or circumstances beyond my control. When these feelings try to rear their head, I have a choice to make, do I park there, or do I lean into what I know is truth and press on?
See, here is where the enemy wants me, wants us, to park. Park in a waiting place of thinking of the ugly, the place where we do not think of our value, where we doubt. Where we fear the ugly. Because let’s face it, there is a lot of ugly in the world. There is a lot of unkindness. It can be easy to park there and to hide. There is a choice to be made.
The choice is to lean into the hope.
The name of that hope is Jesus Christ. He loves us, He loved you and me before we ever came to be, before we were ever created and had a specific purpose for each one of us. He loves each layer and stroke of the painting of our life. He sees the value of every delicate part of us. He knows all the plans that He has for us.
13You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me! – Psalm 139:13-18
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11
Let that truth sink into the depths of your soul.
You, and I are valued. We may not see the final picture, we may not see the work in progress clearly, how all the layers will work along the way, but He does, He see the finished product! He loves us enough that He died on the Cross for each one of us if we choose to acknowledge and receive Him. He conquered and defeated the fear on the Cross for us! When I lean into that truth, when you lean into the truth of His Word, we can press on. We can then begin to see the beauty in own work in progress. See yourself as the beautiful painting that our Creator sees. See the masterpiece in the making.
Art imitating life. Life imitating art.
A work in progress, every day, until the revealing of our final masterpiece.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Eph. 2:10
Blessings to you this day,