Do you remember when you found your “thing”?
Maybe it was swimming, or baseball, or playing the recorder, or making beaded necklaces.
Maybe it was swimming — you figured out the way to coordinate the kick and stroke combination and could hold your breath longer than anyone.
Maybe it was running — other people would be falling along the side of the road and you felt like you could keep going for another hour.
Baking, writing, dancing, hunting, reading, fishing — whatever it was, it grabbed your attention and you wanted to spend time and energy doing that thing.
When you find “that thing” a lot of times it means you stop trying out the other things. A person only has so many time in a day, and when you know that certain activity you enjoy, why waste time doing the other stuff?
Let this dedication to that hobby/sport/activity/game continue for a while and a curious phenomena occurs — you start to think you’re not able to do most of the other things…or you decide (not on purpose decide, but it just sort of happens) that you’re actively bad at those other things. When invited to participate, we decline, saying that we’re no good at _________ (fill in the blank), even if we’ve never even tried it.
For the longest time, it was like that for me with drawing.
This winter, I joined an online group of writers called The Story Sessions. (You can check out Story Sessions here) It’s been a good experience, and I continue to enjoy connecting with them. One of the things Story Sessions offered about a month ago was online workshops. The one I was immediately drawn to (no pun intended) was the Art Journaling as Spiritual Discipline. For the next 40 days — I’m in the final week now — we’d receive daily prompts and have a couple online chats all around Art Journaling.
I didn’t even know what Art Journaling was.
…maybe I still don’t….
but I know what it has become for me.
In the process of mucking about with paints each day, I’ve tapped into a different part of my heart. I realize that sounds corny, but it doesn’t capture it fully enough to just say it uses a different part of my brain, even though that’s true too. There’s a freedom in trying something with no expectations that you’ll be good at it, a freedom in just having fun with trying something new.
It’s been more than just trying out a new skill, such as you might develop if you attend a cooking class or computer coding seminar. It is something less based on outcome and more about the process of discovery.
My oldest son, after looking at some of the pictures in my notebook, assumed a tone I can only guess came from one of his teachers, and said to me, “And you said you’re not an artist.” I answered back, “Well, I can’t draw people very well.” To which he responded, “That’s only half of art. There’s abstract art too. You’re good at that.” He’s ten years old, y’all. We could all take some advice from him, and not count ourselves out before we’ve begun.
I’ll have more to share about it but I don’t want to overwhelm y’all. I’d like to put up a few examples of things I’ve made so you can see what I’m talking about. Remember, I’m not here to say these are particularly lovely or that there’s intrinsically artistic quality to them. But they are examples of the process, and expressions of things I discovered when I let myself try.
Some of these are from prompts given to me through the workshop. Others are just things that came out of a thought or feeling.
Here’s one that is in process but I thought it was funny that I was dressed in the same colors I chose to paint with, but didn’t realize it until AFTER I was done:
This one came out yesterday.
I tried using a scraper to drag some leftover paint onto this next page. It sat like that for a few days, a prompt came along that seemed to fit the feeling of the page. Weird artsy-babble, huh? Yeah, I agree.
These are just a few of the notebooks I’ve been working in. I’d love to continue this, and it really has become a form of spiritual discipline for me, a kind of shared activity with God that doesn’t have the traditional “sit with your hands folded” feeling to it. Even if it is just doodling on a scratch piece of paper (or taking a walk or just being outside), if you come to it with an open heart and your spiritual ears on, it can be an encounter with the Creator.
Do you have a spiritual discipline that works for you? Please feel free to share it here! And if you have any experience with art journaling, I’d love to hear about that too. Have a wonderful week!