November 20, 2013

To Tree or Not to Tree

I'm not an artist.  I don't play one on TV.  But sometimes I just get this urge to paint.

It may be my dad's fault, because way-back-when, I wanted to march in a parade like the kids in the high school band.  Nevermind that I was only in elementary school.  Nevermind that I couldn't play an instrument. I just wanted to march.

So on the wall behind my piano, my dad painted a huge mural of Disney characters, each parading along with their instruments in hand.  I distinctly remember him penciling it in then painting all the colors, and using a dinner plate to trace the perfect circle of the bass drum.  Every time I sat down to practice my scales, Mickey, Pluto, Goofy, Donald, and a couple of little blue birds led me along the streets while I heard the crowds cheer.

I'd love to show you a picture because it really was spectacular, but the only one I know of is a Polaroid in a shoebox, most probably in my mom's shed.  For some reason, my mom wasn't as happy when I attempted my own mural on my brother's wall a few months later.

A few months ago, my aunt Sandy showed me a lovely mural she'd just done in her living room.  A John Deere tractor--always within a stone's throw in my growing up years--parks beside a barn not unlike the one from Granddad's back yard.  She's got the natural sort of talent my dad has, the kind that effortlessly results in beautiful depictions of people and places that are recognizable.  I've tried that, but it turns out like a mix between a Halloween mask gone bad and those pictures that are slightly out of focus.  Folks don't generally look at my artwork and know what it's supposed to be, so I usually go with, "Ah, yeah, it's abstract.  What do you see?"

My latest creation, a floor-to-ceiling
tree in our living room.
However, I do love original art.  I love to make my mark on my home. I love to reflect what's going on in our lives or who we're learning that God is at the time, in words or designs on the walls.  I love to do something different that causes people to ask why. I love the open doors art creates for conversation.  So I trace and I graph and I pencil and I paint.  Mostly, I trace.  :)

I went through a time when I didn't see any value in art, when it seemed a frivolous extra for folks who didn't have better things to do, like vacuum the church or study the Bible.  I've come to appreciate it on a trillion levels now, beyond the practical door-opener-for-conversation I already mentioned. I've even come to see it as a gifting, like in the case of that guy Bezalel in Exodus 35:31-32--
"And he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze"
Obviously, God is a creative God, one who made a world full of ridiculous beauty out of nothing.  And when He breathed into us, that creativity was passed along.  My dad and my aunt Sandy got more than some of the rest of us, but there is creativity to some degree in every person.

I appreciate that trait in the Paraguayans, who instinctively know how to make something out of nothing. When they need a car part and it's not available, you should see the things they fabricate!  We take a little string to the boys at the prison and come back to find multicolored woven bracelets.  We arrive with a bag of beads and fishing wire in a barrio and the ladies transform it into jewelry and dangly things.  A guy takes a hollowed-out ox's horn, carves designs in the side, plugs it with a sliver of wood, and it's a drinking cup.   And it teaches me that it's okay to just create.
"The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands." (Psalm 19:1)
What have you created lately? 


  1. My creativity is limited to stamped cards and writing. I have never been able to draw. Love the tree!

  2. Christie, Just wanted to stop by and wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. As for your post, love it! Love especially the part about your dad and his precious mural. Sounds like something from Guideposts! Have a blessed day. Love, Diane

  3. I love it! My mom, sister, and nieces are quite artistic, but my talent seems to be being a good audience! :) Ramon likes to create things out of necessity too, so I guess that's his Paraguayan upbringing! Have a nice Thanksgiving!


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