Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Reminder For Me

Recently I stumbled upon a blog called Ancient Artist: Developing an art career after 50. It is right up my alley and everything I read on it seemed to speak to me. I have been toying with the idea for some time of writing more of my own thoughts, experiences and ideas here in this blog. Often times I have my flashes of wisdom and insight - or clarity - when I'm driving and then when I get here I can't remember a single thing I had realized. Yet, I know its in there somewhere. This will be an attempt to get those things out of there and onto this page. I don't know how often I'll do this, but I expect it will become fairly regular. Along with my posts of paintings.

As a follower of Christ and an artist, I find the struggle to be twofold. I, like most artists I've talked to or read, suffer from bouts of huge self-doubt and confidence crises now and then. And as a Christian I struggle mostly, it seems, with pride. A few years ago I went through a time of re-evaluating the place art held in my life. My identity was so wrapped up in my painting it was debilitating. I had had a time of seeking God and finding Him in a way I had never experienced before. It was profoundly life changing. I was ready to give up art completely if it was going to get in the way of my relationship with Him. I did leave it on the way back burner for quite awhile. Then one day it seemed to all be given back to me, in its proper place. Not as an idol. Not as my source of identity. Just as something God had given me the desire and ability to do. I emerged from that time with a set of goals written on my heart and on my easel. I've not shared them with but two people since that time, but think it would be okay to do so now.

My first goal and priority was/is HUMILITY. The bible says in the first letter to the Corinthians, "For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?" I need to be reminded of this daily. It's not that I go around boasting that I'm so great, it's that in my heart I can so easily boast to myself and shore up my pride by thinking I came up with the goods, when I didn't. God is the author and creator of this and its my privilege to use it, hopefully, for His glory.

My second goal and priority is to STRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE. I have settled for less than my best at times and it is not a good feeling, nor does it glorify God. Again, others may not see it that way - they may think my work is great, but in my heart I know if I've given my best. It's between me and the Lord. I've gotten to the liberating point of wiping a painting off the canvas if it isn't up to par. Better to start over than try to fix what can't be fixed with my limited knowledge. Excellence is an attribute of God. My work is not perfect, but when I strive for excellence it is a reflection of one aspect of the excellency of the Lord. The psalmist said "O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, who have set Your glory above the heavens!"

My third goal and priority is GENEROSITY. To be as generous with what I've learned as I can be. To be always willing to help other artists in their search for truth (I see art as a search for truth and beauty) in plying their talent and ability. I have received so much help and encouragement from others and I want to pass it on whenever possible. Again, this is an attribute of God. His common grace is for all to enjoy. He makes the rain fall on the just and the unjust. He sends rain in its due season and gave us a beautiful earth to live on, with everything we need to not only sustain us, but to enjoy. And He is ever present to help in time of need if we call on Him. The book of Hebrews says "those who come to God must believe that He is and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

And my fourth and last goal was/is to BE CONTENT with prospering as God sees fit. I had to grapple with this one a bit. One of my pitfalls is to be too idealistic or aesthetic or something. I would flip flop between thinking I shouldn't care about making money at all and that financial success was the mark I needed in order to be validated. As a Christian I don't want money to be my God, nor my sole measurement of success. But I do need to make money in order to keep going. Duh. So, again the bible addresses this in Matthew's gospel, chapter six. 'Therefore do not worry, saying 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things." Ah, my Father in heaven knows. He knows about everything I need, whether its character development or a sale. He has all things in hand and I can trust Him.

So, those are my goals. Its been good to review them like this. To remind myself of the truth. To gain wisdom from the Word of God and walk in it. I hope its been helpful for you too.

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