Work In Progress

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TodaysWorkinProgramInstagramPostIf 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,
Denise

Embrace Change

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Embrace ChangeWrMrk

Embrace Grace – Watercolor

Fall, a time when change is in the air!

We are beginning to experience cooler, foggier mornings, and the leaves are drying and turning ever so slightly in colors.  Before I know it there will be a mass of bright yellows and reds, followed by the cool months and colors of Winter.  Did I just hear a groan?

I get it, we seem to have a favorite Season.  I’m drawn to Spring.  However, the Fall Season is also beautiful to me because I see the beauty in changes.  When I take the time to look at the beauty around me, I can appreciate the many colors and enjoy the Season as I better appreciate God’s love displayed for us.  I can see the colors of the trees singing for joy!

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.  Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.” Psalm 96:11, 12

For the past year or so, I’ve been pondering, writing and marinating on how our creative desires can tap into our personal seasons.  Because in each of our lives, we go through many seasons.  Some are more beautiful than others to us.  But, if we look at each one closely, we will be able to find some beauty in each.  That is where we struggle sometimes, finding that beauty.  Maybe, I’m just talking to myself here, but I don’t think I’m alone in this.

We connect with our emotions in different ways.  It can be smells, sounds, something we see, or hear.  How does this relate to painting watercolors and life?  Watercolors has enabled me to creatively tap into emotions via sight.  Whether I’m in the process of painting, or looking at the finished painting,  I connect again with the love and memory associated with the subject.  It enables me to connect again with the good, the love in our lives, and hopefully the viewer also feels that connection.

My journey in creativity began at an early age.  You would probably best have described me as a dreamer.  This deep appreciation for handmade things I saw demonstrated by many relatives.  My favorite class in school was Art.  While I may have wished to go on to an Art School, that was not an option for my family, and so throughout my life seasons,  I would try to learn or create; whether painting, drawing, music, knitting, crocheting, wood working, miniature building, etc.  When I worked in a business setting, I would try to tap into creativity via writing or computer projects.  (Focus, Denise, we’re talking about watercolors.)  It was after a 30 year hiatus in painting that I picked up a paint brush and started painting again.  My husband’s Christmas gift of watercolor classes while we lived in South Carolina taught by Barbie Mathis awakened the desire to paint again.

A lot can change in 30 years, lol.  The watercolor paints, brushes and paper were all different.  It was a blessing for me to have that season with Barbie and my classmates.  I learned something from each one.  When we needed to move from that State and into a more remote area,  I continued researching different watercolor artists online to experiment with different paints and techniques.  Over the years, we’ve moved again, and I continue to learn, grow, and benefit from each season of change.

One thing I’ve learned along the way is, you creatively need to be yourself.  You need to learn your style.  Any and all your growing experiences count.  What works for one artist doesn’t mean it will work for you.  All that experimenting, that struggle, that growth is taking you towards learning your style.  Plus, don’t be afraid to define your own style name.  Remember you are unique.

One of the hazards of social media is it can sometimes become just a highlight reel.  We see just the good stuff, and easily compare ourselves.  Maybe, I’m the only one who can easily focus on the highlights.  Maybe, that’s just my flaw.  Maybe, but I don’t think I’m alone here.

Social media can be a great place to see new things to try.  A great avenue to find new products, new techniques, or artists to discover.  It can also be a great place to find your community of support.  It is a great place to share stories of struggles, growth and learning.  That’s our journey.  Nobody’s perfect,  but there are some days I need to remind myself of that fact.  It might be a day when I’m trying something new that just doesn’t seem to be going the way I’ve envisioned.  That doesn’t devalue what I’m learning.  Maybe you’ve felt that way too.  And, while I’m confessing stuff here, there are even times that I need to reevaluate accounts that I follow on social media, because I just can’t seem to get a handle on balance in that particular moment.  So, if I’m not being uplifted, or am not learning or growing from that account, then I take a break for a while.  Anyone else do this?

All this being said, it is my desire that this place becomes a safe landing place where we can share our stories, because nobody gets to where they are by just telling only the good stuff.  So, please be patient with me as I process changes for my website, and my social media accounts to best reflect not only my story, but my desire for how we can help each other.

Exactly how this work out with blog posts, art tips and sharing work –  I wish I could give you all those answers.  I’d like to give you a creatively detailed plan.  That’s how my mind works.  I’m learning, sometimes you just have to trust the process.  Isn’t that how watercolors work too?  Isn’t that what we need to do?  Isn’t that usually how our journey goes? We want all the answers, we don’t know all the answers, sometimes we have to wait for the answers.  Waiting.  Seems like I struggle the most with the season of waiting.  Maybe that is why I repeat it.

Watercolors are beautiful, they can be unpredictable, and learning to see colors emerge is fascinating!  I’m not a professional at this, I’m just learning, I’m growing and most of the time I’m loving this ride.  My thoughts and ramblings can be a run of watercolors in a puddle of water.  Hopefully,  you can will find value in joining me in this journey because you are like your own uniquely designed watercolor painting.  You have your own seasons of colors, journey and style.  Appreciate and value it.   Because you are wonderful! You are loved.

Look around, see the beauty.  See the colors, see the wonders.

Blessings,

Denise

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Psalm 139:13,14