“Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation.”
– Ann Voskamp

Art Changes the Artist

I started writing another short story this weekend. It’s for someone I barely know. My protagonist is wildly different from me, and what I’m discovering that forcing myself to practice differently is a very good thing.

I’m changing. I’m becoming increasingly more intentional as to how I spend my time, what my boundaries are, and how to balance running this – all of this – with being a husband, and doing right by my full time job. After all, it’s my occupation that  allows  me to run a website with a vision to empower artists against prejudice, passivity, and injustice (did you know that that’s the mission statement?).

Writing consistently (or writhing in anxiety trying to) has proven to be the strictest of educators. The habit of creating art, or empowering others to do the same, on a weekly basis continually drives me into reliance on Jesus. I do not mean that evangelically. His presence in all that I do is mandatory, or else I start blowing fuses like a circuit breaker in a flooded basement.


Holding Still

I’ve found that the flight pattern of the artist is a frenetic one. It’s passionate energy struggling with the margins of a page, the boundaries of a canvas, or the frame of a viewfinder. It is no mystery that we quiver, that we shake with holy passion; that we hover.

It’s the battle of holding still while the passions of your heart supernova. It’s a burning question of ‘can my pen, shutter, paint, canvas, word…” really describe what I’m seeing, feeling, touching, tasting, hearing, or this crazy place I’m in that we call the world…around me?

…And the artist is never satisfied.

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.”

– Mark Twain

Clasping Something…Else

But what if all this fighting to capture, render, and describe sunrises and sunsets – the magnificent holy clockwork that the artist we call God seems to do for funsies, could be set upon some other practice? Artists long to describe the world around them; to show it off to others, but all the while knowing art is a reagent, and they, a doomed reactant.

But what if we started with the product? Played with the artist’s chemistry? Just for a moment? How about a week?

This week.

“…thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle.”
– Ann Voskamp

I’m into miracles. I believe in them, want them, and understand that the absence of them testifies of a life not living right. So what if we, as artists, did something to create some miracles of our own? What if we practiced giving thanks?

The challenge this week is to blow up social media with whatever you’re thankful for. Pictures of coffee steaming in the morning light, the sacred profundity of breakfast, the smile of a spouse. A quote. An encouragement. Tag it #tpc_miracle.

And let the change come.