A Christmas present to my brother: Custom art for his living room, to be completed by Jan 25. I had visited him in Chicago a few times and his blank 10 foot ceilings were calling my name for some attention. I went through the usual emotional ups and downs of painting:
- "Ohh, great idea!" ---> "My creative juices are as drier than a forgotten raisin, how could I ever make anything good"
- "This is going to be perfect for him!" --> "That's stupid, nobody would want that"
- "This will look so modern" --> "It's messy, what is that?"
- "I'm on a roll, this is fun!" --> "I can't do anything right"
That's what goes on in my head every time I paint going from excited to depressed and back again over and over until the painting is complete. I even dream about it. I've learned to accept that as normal. It also helps to make some small-scale versions and slowly work up so I don't put too much time into a messed up full-scale version.
One of my life goals is to complete a painting series of figures from the history of Christianity in Japan. Sadly there aren't that many which makes it a feasible goal.
Through these 50 blogs, I'm really slowly trying to grasp the fact that working hard does not equal perfection in art-making.
1 Corinthians 4:1-5
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each will receive his commendation from God.
What am I doing with "the mysteries of God?"
Now: I'm writing about it in grad school-- God has been faithful through the centuries of persecution of Christians in Japan.
Later: I'll paint about it-- God never abandoned Japan. He is near and lets us know that.
I beat myself up about some bad paintings and drawings because of my self-imposed expectations, but the expectations that actually matter are much different. I will use what I'm given to the best of my ability. My current best may be "flawed" (from my perspective) but I'll keep at it because my calling is clear to be a good steward of what I'm given (gifts, time, and "the mysteries of God"). I refuse to let the fear of imperfection get in my way of trying BECAUSE:
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Who knows what will happen?? [That's rhetorical, because obviously someone does.] But I have no clue, and that's exciting... at least when it comes to art.
Now back to the weekend, I rolled up the final painting and took it with me on the plane to Chicago.
First, we drove to Michigan to visit my grandparents. I wish I could explain more about the good conversations with them and the humbling reality of how I know nothing about enduring discomfort or English grammar. I hope to improve on the latter through the many books I brought home. For the post, I'll try to stick to the art stuff for now.
My brother and I went to IKEA for 2 hours. That's right, two full hours. Why waste time at a coffee shop when we can bond over home decorations, storage solutions, and indoor plants that are the hardest to kill? [We have really liking but not watering plants in common.] The 3-floor IKEA worked up our appetite for beefy Kyrgyz food (from Kyrgyzstan- a country in Central Asia) soon after.
We found the right frames for lots of prints and things he had collected from traveling etc. and got to work putting them together at home. He explained how double stick tape works (in manufacturing). I wouldn't be able to explain it. I had no idea it was so complicated.
Since I mentioned food I might as well include it:
Chicago is ethnic food & vegan food heaven. I'm not vegan, I just really like vegan food.
This isn't everything we ate, but a few highlights.
Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate "Cheesecake" & Carrot Cake
The Kyrgyz food: Piroshki, Carrot Salad, Pickles & Smoked Meat/Sausage Stew, Potatoes & Beef, Hand-pulled Noodles (tasted like Chinese noodles!) with Beef and Veggie Tomato Sauce, Cabbage Potato & Carrot Pie with Sour Relish (same wrap as a wonton wrapper!).
The Turkish, Chinese, and Russian influences in one country's dishes were fascinating.
Cafe de Olla (traditional Mexican coffee with brown sugar and cinnamon) and Chocoflan (my favorite)
Cactus, Huitlacoche (Black Mushroom), & Poblano Pepper Tacos
Vegan Soul Food. That was a hearty lentil loaf.
Raw Vegan: Sampler Platter of Raw Ravioli, Raw Zucchini Noodles with Marinara, Raw Burger, Raw "Meat"ball, Cocoa Truffle, Sprouted Raw Wild Rice Salad, Raw Carrot Cake
Noah enjoyed it too!
I can't say I took the windy snow like a champ, but it was a wonderful weekend of sibling time. I'm grateful for rich and honest conversations. He shows me how to work hard, courageously seek new endeavors, and be conscious of his purpose each moment as a servant of God.