When the artist passes by

The typical artist is full of herself. She sucks the air out of the room with her great ideas. She tells everyone of her latest vision, which she believes will make the world a better place to live in. Does anyone care? I don’t think so.
Most of the time, if not always, she looks like an unmade bed wearing wrinkled floral sheets and a large funny hat. She carries a big canvas bag of art supplies, just in case she sees something to paint. Her old dirty car is missing a hubcap or two and has a taped-up, broken windshield. You’ll know when you see her, she is an artist passing by.
My Sweet Al has said so many times, “Why are your friends so flaky?”
I told him I liked them that way and I loved being with them. They are my kind of people. They can’t be boxed in.
“You have that kind of stuff. Why are you buying their trinkets and unframed canvases?
Because artists are always broke. They need to sell their trinkets to be affirmed as artists. It was big to me when others supported my efforts.
My 25-year-old granddaughter posted on Facebook, “My grandmother taught me to paint and showed me how to make a canvas out of anything and everything. She is my inspiration.”
She wrote another post about herself. “Anyone who knows me could tell you that I am always making something or working on a creative project. I often have paint on my clothes or wood stain on my hands. It’s all part of the process. That’s what I love about art, the process. It’s the transformation of start to finish and making something beautiful, something new. “
I responded, “I can’t tell you how many times I looked at my own hands with paint under my fingernails. My hands have never looked like the hands of a woman sitting around, eating bonbons and watching soaps. I was not one to have weekly manicures. It would have been nice, but I was too busy creating. And, I would rather buy another brush or frame with the money.”
When I read her postings, I thought to myself: You poor girl, do you know the road you have chosen to travel? Do you know you’ll put hours into a piece of art only to give it away? Do you know the cost of a university degree you studied for and your parent’s sweat and blood to pay for so you could be a starving artist? Do you know how it will hurt when you put yourself out there, become vulnerable and be misunderstood?
I don’t think so and I’m not telling her. I’m not taking away her delight. Just like no one could tell me. I could only hear the next creative idea that burned deep inside of me until I painted it. It was never about the money.
For her birthday, she wanted a portable drill. For Mother’s Day, I wanted a Zoom paint gun. We both got what we wanted and we could hardly wait to tell each other what we were going to do with them.
The hands of an artist. In 1977, Peter Laue prayed a prayer over me. He saw my hands full of grace. I saw them with chipped nails and permanent stains. I didn’t know what he prayed at the time. I painted an oil painting of hands holding a bouquet of flowers. My friend in Clovis loved the painting so I gave it to her. That was 40 years ago and it still hangs on her wall.
I thought hands holding flowers are what “hands of grace” would look like. As I’ve journeyed as an artist, I found in my hands objects that others have thrown away. No one wanted an old, rusted can or an ugly door stripped of its paint. But I did. I saw something beautiful.
Over the years, I have held in my hand a paintbrush and have shown a student how to make a stroke with the flick of their wrist. They were surprised to see a red germanium appear. I showed people their wonderful talent and their gift of expression, when they felt they had nothing. I saw it in them because I fought to see it in myself.
When I read my granddaughter’s precious words about me, I thought I was just on my journey being an artist. I was in the process of making art. I’ve turned the paintbrush over to my granddaughter and picked up a pen. I have become a writer and still creating, now with words. Yes, it’s all part of the process. We can’t help ourselves.
Creating was always about being the person I was created to be. On the road as an artist and enjoying the creative process, I was being transformed into a bigger canvas touched by the Master Creator. With surer and more precise strokes, and with a flick of His hand, He gave me the confidence to know my worth and be me because He created me to be an artist.
Those hands of grace, wet with paint, are His hands still forming me. To be there to pick up my granddaughter when she falls. When she wonders why the road of an artist is so hard, I’ll show her my bruised knees and tell her the journey is worth it. I will encourage her to stay true to her gift and not veer from her path.
Final brushstroke: Even though the artist takes the air out of the room, she actually gives fresh breath to others. The artist, like the poet, can see and feel things others can’t. She doesn’t look like a million dollars on the outside, but she carries a million dollar gift on the inside. The world is a better place because The True Artist walked by and touched her.
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This story was posted on October 5, 2017.