Masterpieces

A couple of weeks ago I came across some of the most amazing artwork I had ever seen.   It was a delightful scene of a mill, with a waterwheel busily turning water, and a small fisherman trying his luck in the mill pond.  The picture itself was good, but upon closer inspection both the work and the artist became incredible.

The picture had been typed by an artist named Paul Smith. I say ‘typed’ because the entire picture, mill, wheel, and fisherman, had been created using only a typewriter.  Why would someone ‘draw’ with a typewriter?

Well, for Paul Smith, it was the only way.  Mr. Smith was born with severe Cerebral Palsy. Because of this he was unable to even hold a pencil, much less draw.  But that did not stop him.  He taught himself how to draw by using the symbol keys such as # ! @ * _ – on a typewriter.  The typewriter, a thing that must people use to communicate with words, he used to express himself through art.

Mr. Smith passed away June 25th 2007 at his home, Rose Haven Nursing Home.  He was 85 years old and had created over 400 works of art.

I was truly touched by the story of this inspiring man and the beautiful images he was able to create. Perhaps what made it more amazing was the fact that it was because of his ‘disability’ that he had learned this new and unique way of drawing with a typewriter.

This got me thinking.  Often times it seems that those who have ‘disabilities’ in our world are viewed as being disadvantaged, or pitiable.  In fact the very word ‘disability’ seems to entail a less than status. But this is clearly not the cause.

There is dignity in all that carries the gift of life. God does not make mistakes.  Everything He makes is beautiful and perfect, just the way He made it.  Every leaf, every star, every single person: is a masterpiece.

To watch the video I saw of Mr. Smith click the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svzPm8lT36o

Featured Image of Paul Smith “The Typewriter Artist” Image from http://cerebralpalsy.org/

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Drawing Upside Down

Recently I came across a drawing exercise I had never tried before. This exercise required that you draw upside down.  That’s right, upside down.

How do you do that?  First, you turn the reference for what you are drawing upside down. Then you try to copy the shapes just as you see them.

I decided to give this exercise a try. I turned my reference picture over and started drawing.  I concentrated on one small section at a time, covering the rest of the picture up so that I wouldn’t be distracted. I wondered how this was ever going to turn out right! But to my great surprise and pleasure when I was finished and turned the drawing over it resembled fairly closely the cat that I was trying to draw.

                The reason for this exercise was to teach me to draw better by seeing better.  I turned the picture upside down so that it wouldn’t look like a cat. That way instead of trying to draw a cat, I would be drawing what I saw. Instead of a cat I was drawing a collection of shapes; an assortment of lines and squiggles that when arranged correctly resembled a cat!

Life is like that.  Sometimes it seems that my life isn’t going anywhere.  It looks as though I am getting nowhere and I wonder how things will ever turn out right.  But that’s just the way I see it.  There is nothing wrong with my life, only the way that I am looking at it. I can’t see the whole the picture.

But God is sovereign.  Not only can He see the whole picture, He is also the one drawing it! He is directing every line, every shape.  He is making my life into the masterpiece that He has planned it to be! He is using me to declare His glory and power. Even when I can’t see it.

So if the world is looking a little topsy turvey. Remember, that is just the way we see things. God is still in control and He knows what He is doing.  All that we can do is concentrate on the little lines and shapes in front of us. Then trust Him with the rest.

Writing and I: A Love/Hate Relationship

If you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up the answer probably would have been a writer. Unless of course you asked me near the Olympics, then the answer would have been either a figure skater or a gymnast! I have always wanted to write.  I love everything about being a writer; the words, the stories, the characters, the fancy coffee, the scarves.  Everything that is except for the actual writing.

There I said it; I am a writer that HATES to write!  What? Is that even possible. Possible? I do it all the time. So if I hate writing so much why have I always wanted to do it? Well, maybe hate isn’t the right word, it’s just that writing is….well…hard.   The hardest part is the writing part.  The part that I’m doing right now.  The part where you type whatever is going on in your head.  Do you want to know why?

It takes Discipline. Yes, it takes a lot of discipline to write.  It seems like it is the task that is never done.  You don’t really feel like going and doing it either.  It is something that you have to sit down and do everyday whether you want to or not. And if you’re writing toward a deadline (and don’t we all have a deadline of some kind) it gets even worse.  And to be honest. Discipline and deadlines are something that I have always struggled with.  Why? Because I struggle with consistency! And because I’m lazy.  But if you are ever going to succeed in writing you must have Discipline.  You have to make yourself, FORCE yourself, to sit down and do it.  Even when Pinterest would be so much more exciting right now, and even when you have no idea what to write. Which brings me to my next point………

Sometimes you have no ideas!  Most of the time when I sit down to write all I do is stare at a blinking cursor. I scroll up and down a blank sheet of paper and think, ‘Well that must be what’s on my mind…nothing’. And then when I finally manage to write something it turns out to be just a jumbled bunch of sentences that may or may not have any relevance to what I am supposed to be writing about. Which would be number three.

It has to make sense! That’s right! And sometimes this is a tough one.  It can’t just make sense to you it also has to be correctly interpreted by others!  People that don’t know you, or how you think. What?!  But that’s not all, it even has to be spelled correctly and be grammatically correct. That’s right… big bad Grammar.  Of course we don’t have to worry about that right now. After all this is only the first draft. (Sigh of relief) That all happens later, through a process called ‘editing.’

Editing. The only part of writing I hate more than writing.  This is where you go through the roller coaster process of reading your work again and again.  You read while your mind is going from thoughts like, “This is really good, I may really have something here.” To “This is the dumbest thing I have ever read, where is the shredding machine!?” You start to agonize over little things. Scrutinizing each sentence asking yourself things like, ‘Is that a good word for that?’  ‘Is this sentence to wordy, or to boring?’ ‘Can a rabbit actually gallop?’ If that’s not bad enough the next step is….

Proofreading. This is when you promptly forget all of the grammar you have ever learned in your life! It’s also when you learn to fear commas.  You have no idea where they should be, you just know that you should have some. And that they go……. where? The only thing more terrible than commas are the semicolons and colons. But how will your writing be academic without a few of those?!

Writing is hard, there is no doubt about it. But just because something is hard doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it. Even more importantly, just because writing might not be easy for you doesn’t mean that you can’t become a good writer.

Even on those days when it’s hard. I will keep writing.  Why? Because I love it.  I love the words that dance through your mind when you’re jogging. I love the story ideas and characters that wake you up at midnight.  I love the satisfaction of reading something I wrote (and edited). I love to write.  Even when I hate it.

An Attack of Creative Compulsion

It has been like this ever since I was little.  It can come in the shape of drawings, stories, poems, essays, paintings, and structurally unsound constructions of cardboard and duct tape.  Without warning and at any time I might come down with a sudden and acute attack of creativity. It is highly contagious and can last for days.  It can completely derail any prior projects and lead to a messy desk and solitary obsessive behavior for hours. And in some extreme cases the excessive hoarding of toilet paper tubes!  I never know when it will strike, at the store, on Pinterest (this one seems to cause a lot of attacks), in the bathroom, anywhere! I refer to this reaction as my Creative Compulsion.   And no I do not suffer from it….on the contrary I rather enjoy it!

I hope that I am not the only one that suffers from this consuming but very enjoyable Compulsion! As a matter of fact I think there is a spark of the creative in all of us.  Certainly we do not all wish to create the same thing or the same way but I think somehow, somewhere, there is a desire to make, to shape, to build,  to create in everyone.

In a way it is how we bear the image of Our Creator.  Isn’t it wonderful!  He created everything, from the sky, to the dirt, even us!  But He still gave us the ability and the desire to make our own creations!  He didn’t have to do that!  But He did!  Why? Only He knows but I like to think that it is because it gives us pleasure and it gives Him pleasure.

So go ahead! Round up the glitter! Grab a pencil (a teal one)!  Paper? Clay? Canvas? Who knows! There are so many wonderful things waiting to be made! So go out there and make them!