Thursday, April 18, 2013

Drawing the line

Earlier this week I spent an evening at the Paint Pub with some colleagues—a celebration for completing a big project together. If you’re not familiar with the paint pub fad, it’s where participants drink wine while we each create our own version of the same painting, led stroke-by-stroke by an instructor. I arrived hoping our chosen painting would be something abstract, or at least relatively simple, like a bench or a tree. Preferably nothing that needed to be recognizable. So imagine my nervous laughter when I looked at the instructor’s canvas to find a painting of the Minneapolis skyline (met with some elements of Van Gogh’s Starry Night).

Now I don’t want to say I’m not an artist. But I’m definitely not in the traditional sense of the word. I enjoy the artistic endeavors of music and writing. But ask me to draw or do anything “crafty” and I will refuse to show you even my stick figure drawings. I envy the scrapbookers and Pinterest people, but I’ve accepted that I will never be one of them.

My saving grace at this painting event was the fact I was surrounded by other Type A individuals who were also scared to death (and fighting over the seats where the fewest people could see what we were painting). As I settled in front of my blank white canvas, wondering when the numbers and lines to follow would show up, I embraced insecurity and decided to just laugh at myself and my lack of ability. This was good for me!

Every time my brush touched the canvas I tensed up. I asked the instructor to repeat each instruction multiple times before I made a move. And then the instructor made a comment that I’ve been reflecting on ever since. She said “When we have children in here, we tell them to draw a line and they just draw a line. But with adults, we tell them to draw a line and they ask 10 questions about the specifications of the line before putting brush to canvas.”

Wow. I actually had no problem believing that was completely true.

Why are we so hesitant to just draw the line? I learned a lot about lines that night. For example, l learned that I can’t paint a straight line to save my life. So I have some crooked and very abstract buildings—oh well. But more importantly, l learned that sometimes we have to stop thinking so hard and take a leap. Draw the line—make that next move—and just have faith that it’ll be ok. Childlike faith. How applicable this is to so many other parts of our lives.

I also learned that a little extra paint can cover up mistakes and it doesn’t have to (and won’t) be perfect. But when you put a bunch of lines (and circles, etc.) together, you end up with something that’s uniquely yours—something you can be proud of.

While I won’t be prominently displaying my creation anywhere (and secretly wanted to swap my painting out for one of my colleagues’), I’m satisfied with my effort, imperfections and all.