God Isn't Dead
I'm a creator (1), and as anyone else who creates things knows, the act of witnessing your creation can make you feel like a god. Yes, a god. What I mean by this really just relates to that one verse in the Bible: Genesis 1:31 “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” I always found that verse so funny. Of course he thought it was good, he made it!
But in making such a seemingly egotistical statement, the god of the Bible sets a perfect example for us. Think about it, if you choose to believe in the all-knowing and seeing capital "G" god of the Bible, his assessment of “very good” takes into account the beginning to the end. It’s not like he was looking at a painting - a static assortment of color and canvas on a wall - that, at the very most, might fade with time. At that beginning state of god’s creation, he saw everything - all the future events of our now history and the future that will soon be history. He took into account the whole of Earth’s existence. Everything from the creation of the Mona Lisa to the first self-driving car. He saw every birth and every death. When he said “very good,” he saw the whole process of existence and he said all of this is good. And that's a pretty Zen thing for a god to say.
I've come to believe that life is about the experience of living and “good” does not necessarily relate to that which is pain-free or effortless. Whatever happens is good because it’s about the experience, not the perfection. The dance is not about getting to a specific place on the floor, but, rather, enjoying each moment as it presents itself.
I’m in love with this painting (2), which is making it difficult for me to work on it. Yes, I admit that it’s not even close to finished (3), but I already like looking at it so much that, when I set time aside to work on it, I end up simply looking at it. No, it’s not an egotistical kind of love, like “wow, you’re such great painter, Matthew!” I would, instead, relate it to the way a parent admires their child. In some ways, this is my child. This is a strange place to be as an artist, because I have to see imperfections in order to want to change it. My goal this week is to fall desperately out-of-love with this painting so I can push it to it’s full potential. Fall desperately out of love with the visuals, and remember what this is all about, having a full process and experience.
1) prefer creator to “artist.” Too many people have associations with that word. When I say, “I’m a creator, people tend give me an odd, inquisitive look and then I know I have their attention.
2) Painting Dimensions: 144 inches x 74 inches. Bench Dimensions: 33.5 inches x 26.5 inches x 8.5 inches.
3) How do I know when a painting is done? It’s a feeling that comes over me. A sense of completeness, which relates more to the process and the work put into it, rather than the visuals on the canvas. Sure, the painting needs to have some sense of visual completeness, whatever that means, but this is more about process. Yes, in the end I have a lovely painting for my living room, but I would never have been able to paint it if I didn’t engage in the process of creation.
What applies to writing also applies to painting, or any creative venture, for that matter: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader,” Robert Frost. What he’s getting at, is that the reader can sense the moments a writer has spent with his writing. The reader can sense the writer emotional involvement and excitement. I learned this the hard way in college. I used to suffer over essays. I’d start them weeks in advance and spend countless hours “slaving” - and that is the right word for this experience - over every word. Yes, I would get “As” and “Bs,” but I also lost a lot of hair along the way. Then one semester, right before Thanksgiving break, I decided to write my philosophy essay the night before leaving on break. I chose a topic that interested me, let the words flow out and put it away during the break. When I came back to it a week later, the writing still spoke to me. It made me laugh and want to cry at the same time. I could see me in it. I did some minor editing. Added some quotations and references and handed it in. I got an “A,” but a much more exuberant “A”. The professor included all sorts of notes and comments that revealed to me that he, too, was engaged by the writing. I had spent less time writing, but it was quality, focused time and I was at play the whole time while writing.