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.


  1. Good job, Heather! That painting looks good and better than I could have done! :) loves, sarah sue

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