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