Masterpiece in the Mess

I suppose every storyteller–whether their tools be pen and paper or the gift of gab and a captive audience–have their own way of getting to the end of a story. The processes are probably as varied as the storytellers going through them. As I began painting a mural today, it occurred to me that mural painting isn’t too much different than my writing process.

I begin with an overall theme or idea and a blank space.

The theme is an ocean and this particular blank space is a room at a chiropractic office designated specifically for children. There are certain “must haves” requested by the client: dolphin, sea turtle and mermaid, but everything else has been left up to me. (These are my favorite kind of clients, by the way.)

But the blank spaces are rarely ever truly blank.

There are cabinets, electrical outlets and light switches to consider, not to mention the furniture that will be in the space once the painting has been completed. When we share our stories, we bring our past experiences with us, good and bad. In either case, we can work around them or choose to incorporate them into the picture.

When painting and when creating a story, it’s good to remember that things often get messy. Lines are blurred and smeared. You have to work towards the picture in your mind and rest assured that you have the talent and the tools to get you there in the end.

And speaking of tools, you’ve got to work with what you have in your tool bag.

This brush has seen better days. The tiny nails that fasten the brush head to the handle have worked themselves loose over several uses, which makes it necessary to grasp the brush at the base of the handle rather than the handle itself. There are bristles in the brush that are permanently stuck together which cause the paint to streak on the wall. I’ve got better brushes at home. I’m not sure why I grabbed this one. But you know what? A better brush wouldn’t have created the perfect, water-like streaks when I pulled the glaze and paint across the wall. Imperfection can help create unexpected beauty. Old and well-worn doesn’t necessarily mean useless, quite the contrary.

I’ve lost count of how many walls and ceilings I’ve cut in with this brush. It’s hardly a thing of beauty, but when I put it in my hand, I know exactly how close I can get to a ceiling or a baseboard without getting paint where it doesn’t belong. I trust it to do what I need it to do. I can’t say that about a new brush, which is why I rarely buy them. I do my best to take care of the parts that matter–the bristles–and accept the ugliness of the parts that don’t.

I’ve only just begun this mural. Many elements and layers still need to be added before it looks anything resembling an underwater seascape. But I know what I’m doing. I’ve done it before.



I’m confident that when I’m packing up my paint and brushes on that final day, it will mimic finished room I have in my head.

I can be confident of a good outcome despite the messiness I now see. Me–a person who has never taken an art class, someone who has just figured things out through trial, error and experience–how much more confident can we be that the Creator of the Universe, the One who knew your story before you took your first breath, can see the masterpiece He created in you.

His masterpiece in the mess.

This post is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Much, hosted by my friend Peter Pollock. To read more posts on this topic, please visit him at PeterPollock.com

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10 Responses to “Masterpiece in the Mess”

  1. ella May 2, 2012 at 4:19 am #

    Beautiful job and beautiful post, it’s the simple things in life that remind us of the greater goal of this universe don’t they?

  2. Simply Darlene May 2, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    Land sakes miss Kathy, I’ve got oodles of bare-n-tall (12-footers) walls ’round these parts. Right now they are all painted Hemingway sorta greenish and flanked by 173 cardboard boxes.

    Thank for the masterpiece in me encouragement today.

    Blessings.

  3. Sandra Heska King May 2, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    “Old and well-worn doesn’t necessarily mean useless, quite the contrary.” I’m taking this personally. 🙂

    What lessons you’ve brought out here in this piece. You–a masterpiece creating a masterpiece.

  4. Jennifer@GDWJ May 2, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    This is a great metaphor for writing, as you say. I often look at the blank screen and that blasted cursor, and it can feel pretty daunting. But somehow, in the creative process, something beautiful often emerges.

    (P.S. – You’re one talented lady.)

  5. Joanne Norton May 2, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    This is really neat! I love colorful mural “stories”… and yours is a treat.

    Glad you can have more than one lifelong skill. THAT is a blessing beyond belief.

  6. Amy Sorrells May 2, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    LOVE!!!!!! And Amen!!!!

  7. Hazel Moon May 2, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

    Old but still useful! Great Post and who needs lessons when the “ART” lies within you!!

  8. Lynn Mosher May 2, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    Oh, Kat! Girl, I had no idea you painted, much less, did it so well! I’d love to see the end result. And your post…I ditto Sandy. “Old and well-worn doesn’t necessarily mean useless, quite the contrary.” Taking it personally as well! Wonderful post! Bless you!

  9. Jared May 3, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    The less contact the dye has with your face, the better. Rinse your hair until the water is running clear or you will drip dye when you get out of the shower. If dye splatters in your shower clean it off right away.

    • katdish May 4, 2012 at 6:35 am #

      Hi Jared,

      I normally delete spam comments that make it through the filter, but for some reason the fact that your comment had absolutely nothing to do with my post made me smile.

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