January 19, 2005
Why I let go of the horse
When I was younger, about 24 years ago I entered an art contest. When I was 17 I was really shy and introverted. As one of my outlets, I drew pictures. I loved to draw. My creations were coming from inside and it was an expressive way to show my emotions. Even before that, when I was in eighth grade, I broke my knee and had to have an operation and a couple of casts in series put on. After the first, full-leg cast, I had a walking cast put on, which allowed my foot and ankle to move. Then I was bored and decided to paint it. My mom had been teaching me how to paint with oils and at that time she was also working with acrylic paints. My mom is a great artist and Iíve always thought that she could have done much more with her art if she would have spent more time at it. But how can you when you are raising 5 kids.
Anyway, I painted on my cast with acrylic paints because they dried quickly and were washable. It was a cool design that I just winged. I did not draw anything, just painted. I donít know what happened to that cast but it was great fun creating it. It gained me a lot of attention when people saw it, but of course that attention made me feel uncomfortable. Once I created this work of art I enjoyed it as a memory every day until my cast was taken off. I didnít create the artwork for other people, I painted it to kill time and to alleve my boredom while being stuck in the cast. Activities are a little limited when wearing one of those.
So when I entered that art contest it wasnít really my ideal. I didnít really care to be recognized or paid attention to. I entered the art contest because some of my mentors and youth workers at church thought I had some real talent and that it would be a good experience for me. As it turned out, it was a good experience but not for the reasons they thought.
Before the contest I drew up a lot of sketches and ideas, most of which I kept in my sketchbook, but finally I decided on a very simple drawing that showed my love and relationship to God. It was simply one hand reaching up to another, anticipating the touch, and knowing that our hands will meet, that God always extends a hand when I need it. At that time I thought my drawing was really good but I wasnít concerned with whether I would win or not. During the creation of the drawing I was drawing from my heart and used my own hands as a model. To me this was significant because I was deeply involved in the creative process. I was busy working out the details.
On the way to the contest I spilled coffee on my drawing. I was kind of upset about that, but in that moment my church youth leaders gave me some very good advice, and helped me try to clean it. They said something like, ďNo matter what happens, you have already received an great award during the process of creating this art. The true reward is the process of creating. With the skills and process of creating, you can create more artwork and your life will be filled with creativity and joy. Donít worry about the outcome of this contest. After itís over youíll do more, greater things.Ē And those words I knew were closer to how I felt about art, as opposed to an idea of art as a product. Just like life is not a snapshot or an end result. We often work towards goals only to find other goals and ambitions. When we arrive somewhere, we often find other destinations. Then when we look back on life, sometimes out of regret for the things we failed to do, we stumble on this truth: It is the process of creating the art that is the most important part of our life. Itís not the house we have or the job we have or the artwork we have created. Itís the creative process that brings us the joy. Itís living life that brings us the joy.
I did poorly in the art contest, and the judges said on their review form that, ďItís obvious you are a good student of art, please keep up the good work and the studies.Ē I thought that was a bunch of crap actually. When I looked at my picture I saw God reaching out a hand to help someone in need. It was the most beautiful picture I had created because it was me.
I realized the truth that the contest was just one motivation to get people to create and that I didnít need a contest to create. I donít know how to explain it any better than this. When we look at our lives as the creation of art, what do we see? How are we living it?
A few years ago I scanned in that old drawing which I kept in my attic and moved from house to house over the years and created another picture for a special friend. This was part of the process of creating a friendship. I added some Korean words to it and it makes an interesting statement by itself, but the true artwork was in giving a part of myself to someone who needed a real, true friend.
Why I let go of the horse. What should have been heartbreaking was a lesson in living.
Posted by carl1236 at January 19, 2005 9:23 PM | Attitude