Who doesn’t find a blank canvas, or sheet of paper a little intimidating? It frightens some artists to their core. How scary it is to be in charge of a blank space- you are the master of the creation. It can be exhilarating – yet it can also be terrifying.
I feel like most of us like to be told what to do. We have this illusion that we want to be in charge of our own destiny, yet like many I often crave a road map of direction. We more comfortable with a coloring book rather than a blank page. However if you think about a blank page – possibilities are ENDLESS – why does that frighten us so much?
So, I started thinking about this idea of a blank canvas. How easily does this apply to life? Our lives are a blank canvas- we make choices to color our world and create a good life. One choice dominos the next and so on. The good news is you don’t have to make choices for your entire life’s canvas all at one time. It is an evolving quest- one that takes a lifetime- one that hopefully paints a beautiful life.
Another enchanting thought for me is that my life, my canvas is sort of a piece of mixed media work. Anyone who works in mixed media is aware of the amazing grace this medium lends. If you make a “mistake” you have the opportunity to turn it into a happy accident, collage over it, or allow it to challenge you to create something even more wonderful. While life doesn’t always offer us the ability to collage over our mistakes, it does allow us to learn from them, grow from them and love a little more. In essence our lives are often a little more beautiful because we have taken the opportunity to grow from our mistakes.
And another thing (I know, I shouldn’t begin a sentence with “and” but it seemed to work at that moment.) what might be worse than canvas with mistakes certainly must be a canvas protected and left white because the artist is afraid to make a mistake. LIFE is about experiencing all there is to offer. While it might rock us to the core to put that first spash of paint on or canvas or in our lives it is about this journey. It is about the opportunity to grow, and love and touch other people- to leave our mark, to make sure that we lived fully.
If you look critically at ANY work of art I am certain that you will find imperfections. This of course does not negate your appreciation of the work, in some ways it might even make it more inviting. I remember being at the Wyeth museum in Chadds Ford. I truly love the Wyeth works- Andrew in particular. Of course their work is completely different than my own, but I certainly appreciate the emotion and humanity in which the Wyeth family seems to grace the canvas. (watercolor paper) One of the things that hit home for me however, was upon looking at the pieces up close I quickly noticed the imperfections. There was even dog hair and foot prints clearly on the work! No one attempted to clean those up- one might even suggest that they were saved as evidence of the artist’s humanity. I have studied these same paintings countless times in books- never had I noticed these “mistakes”. Only evident to me was the incredible skill in which the Wyeth family shares their talents and delights our senses with their ability to paint emotion. Seeing a piece of art that is not flawlessly cared for somehow made it more endearing to me. I felt like I could see a piece of time in the artist’s life, a peek into his soul- not just by seeing his work up close, but by appreciating that he put pieces of his entire life into that painting- not just a skillful brush.
So it seems that we must get out there with our bucket of brushes. We’ve been given a blank canvas to create a life upon. The choice for the colors, the textures, even the subject matter remain within our hands. Don’t allow your canvas to be blank- it’s okay to make mistakes and embrace your imperfection. Pick up your brushes and get busy… I wish you the courage to make mistakes and the wisdom to know when to leave the footprints of humanity for all to see.