Oh My Deer

I’ve taken up painting this week. I’ve never been very good at it, but I decided it would be a fun habit to take up. Having had very limited success with my last free-painting effort, so  I wanted to take a more structured approach. I decided I would start with a paint by number. It would learn some rudimentary techniques, and have all the supplies I needed for the project come in an inexpensive little kit. After all, outfitting a beginner’s art studio is quite an investment. And there are fewer things more disappointing than trying to make yourself enjoy a hobby just because you spent a lot of money on it. (Looking at you—my one week of guitar lessons back in 2002).

So, all the wiser, I started small this time. I thought about Van Gogh’s Starry Night, but then felt quite presumptuous to take on Van Gogh on the first try. So, I thought I’d do something wintry and Christmas themed. I finally settled on a deer in the snow scene that I hated from the beginning. It was either that, or a Thomas Kinkade knockoff that I knew I’d never finish.

I bought a little easel to go with it, and took it home. I set up my easel on my desk, and gasp moved my laptop out of the way. It reminded me of that scene in Toy Story, when Andy threw Woody off the bed, and firmly planted Buzz in his spot. “This is where the spaceship goes,” he said. And from the distance I heard my laptop singing You’ve Got a Friend in Me.

Then I opened the package, and slowly, tentatively started painting. It took two days, and I had a lot of fun. It was definitely tedious at some points, and I had to remind myself that you can’t rush art. The painting never looked like the box, and was definitely a “beginner’s” effort, as you can see for yourself above.  But I had to put all of that aside.

`The whole thing was about being calm, relaxed, and taking your time. These were things I wasn’t entirely used to as a writer. Writing comes quick and easy, and many times I hear the sentences or words in my head before I type them. But, this was all about patience and detail. And stepping back. Painting is unique in that you can’t always tell what you are doing close up, it’s only when you step back you can see what you are doing.

At one point, my deer was in tact, but the snow scene wasn’t working the way it should. So, I just figured I’d forget the numbers and do what I wanted. And it was a lot of fun. I started to blend this color and that, and do this tree this way, and change the color here….And once I did that, I started to understand what the numbers were trying to do in the first place.

I’m sure there are so many spiritual lessons there…trusting God’s plan. Keep doing what is in your hands to do….Patience and diligence will create beauty….But I just don’t feel like analyzing it. Sometimes, a painting is just a painting. Sometimes things are just fun and enjoyable. Some things God gives to us because he loves to bring us joy. And for $7 at Hobby Lobby, it’s not a bad deal.


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