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An Artist At Work

Have you ever watched an artist at work?

Let me clarify first: I’m not necessarily referring to an artist with a canvas on an easel and a palette of paint in their hand, although that may be what first came to mind when considering that question. So before we revisit it, let’s change your definition of “artist.”

Everyone is an artist. I can say this confidently and without hesitation. Ol’ Webster defines “artist” as:
1 | a person who creates art (such as painting, sculpture, music, or writing) using conscious skill and creative imagination
2 | a skilled performer
3 | a person who is very good at something

If you haven’t guessed, for the purposes of redefining the go-to image of artist, we’re going with definition 3. A person who is very good at something. Not “someone who paints” or “a person who draws, creates music, or makes something with their hands.”

My guess is that there’s something you’re very good at. Maybe it’s inviting friends into your home. Artist of hospitality. Maybe it’s cultivating the land and growing flowers, crops, or working at conservation. Maybe it’s loving your kids with all you’ve got. Maybe your art is made in the kitchen, baking or cooking and filling bellies with nourishment. Perhaps your smile brings a smile to others and you’re an artist of joy. I know some people who are artists in the field of science or technology, working with medicine or figuring out how to connect wires and codes that look foreign to me. Some artists do their work on a playing field, gym, or arena, using their bodies in shows of strength, endurance, and agility. Maybe you’re very good at noticing others and including them in your group, serving those in need, or encouraging and loving others as they grieve, struggle, or learn.

Think for a minute about something you’re very good at. Nothing is too little, insignificant, or silly. Maybe you’re a legit creative with an obvious talent/skill – think of something you’re very good at outside of what you do. Are you a good friend? An excellent gift-giver? An attentive listener? Those count, too. You’re not confined to the examples above, friend. Maybe grab a piece of paper and jot down your “very good at” things.

Now that we’ve redefined the common, go-to image of an artist, let’s go back to the question:

Have you ever watched an artist at work?

The musician lost in the song. The dancer whose movements make you feel their emotion. The mama snuggling her children with undivided attention. The football player navigating the field like there are no other players to interfere. The speaker delivering their thoughts with articulate and heartfelt passion. The cook that closes their eyes with approval when tasting a dish. The hostess who joyfully puts on another pot of coffee so her guests can linger a little longer. The engineer who loses track of time as they excitedly figure out one. more. thing.

If you’ve scrolled social media for any amount of time, you’ve probably fallen victim to a shared video of an artist creating. I watched one tonight of a young gymnast confidently executing her routine on the mat. In a series of twists, bends, tucks, and flips, she made moves I’ll never have the ability to perform look absolutely effortless. But the thing I noticed most – aside from the bouncy and recognizable soundtrack for her routine – was how she was lost in her art. As teammates and coaches cheered from the sidelines, the fluidity of her moves was only made more beautiful by the joy on her face. Flashing smiles and mouthing the words to the music, she displayed her love for her art. Artist of dance and strength and agility!

I grew up watching a handful of guys who were friends of my parents play music. Their band, Stillwater, wasn’t always complete with all the members during their weekend gigs, but I did get to enjoy a few shows and the energy from the stage – whether a wooden porch of a weekend party or at a venue on a Friday night – was always electric. Watching those guys with guitars in their hands, mics at their lips, or sitting behind the drums, they absolutely LOVED making music. Their art brought people together and joy to those who heard it. Artists of music!

My mom probably wouldn’t call herself an artist. At least not with that original definition of a painter at an easel. Spoiler alert: she’s totally an artist! She can plan a vacation like you’re the only people on the planet. She’ll pack goody bags for the ride – complete with your favorite snacks, some car-friendly games, and usually something special just for you like a trinket or souvenir to get you excited about wherever you’re going. She is so crazy-intentional and thoughtful in creating experiences and making memories in going on adventures! If you watched her plan and coordinate all the little details, you’d see pure joy. An artist of memory-making!

One that may not be so obvious are those who make their art in the backgrounds. My brother, Hunter, is a mortician and funeral director. I never once really was shocked when he told me he was going to work at a funeral home when he was in his twenties. He was so close with both sets of his grandparents, losing them meant he experienced and walked through deep grief and loss younger than most. From that, the Lord grew a compassionate, kind, and caring spirit within him and (even though he’s an insanely talented actor/director/playwright), his art is in the way he cares for those mourning and grieving. He’s gentle and engaging, loving and thoughtful. He is an artist of hope and compassion.

Here’s something I’m learning: different artists create differently. Whether your “very good at” thing is an obvious creative talent or you’re skilled in something outside of that typical, artsy box – you are wired to create.

We have all been created with interests, talents, skills, and passions that nudge us in our creative direction. I had a mentor tell me once I had the “gift of administration” and I remember thinking how totally LAME that was. I was in my late teens and at that time, what I heard was that I was destined to be a receptionist to utilize my “gift”. I did work as a receptionist in a few churches over the following 5-6 years, but what I realize now is what I wish I had realized then: I’m a helper. Administrators help with detail work – they help create an atmosphere or environment so that someone else can do their work well. That’s definitely who I am…even if I don’t want to sit behind a desk and field phone calls for a living.

One of the best illustrations I’ve heard is that the people of God are like the different facets of a diamond. I feel like I originally read this or heard this from Lisa Bevere, but I’m not 100% certain. In summary, we are all like individual facets of a diamond, who is Christ. When we each embrace and use our talents and skills for the glory of our Creator, it’s not only an act of worship, but together we become a beautiful, multi-faceted, stunning reflection of the different facets of an intentional God. When we get lost in looking at what anyone else is skilled at, when we become fixated on how well (or not) they use those talents, or when we hide our passions and heart because we feel shame, guilt, jealousy, or insecurity – that reflection dims a little. You are an important part of the Grandest Story ever written and it’s time to be bold and start creating the art inside you!

In her book, Godmothers: Why You Need One, How To Be One, Lisa Bevere shares so much wisdom I thought I should literally dip every page in neon yellow highlighter. Seriously – there’s barely a couple pages that pass that aren’t highlighted in some capacity! One of my favorite chapters is chapter 5, titled Dig Up Your Treasure. Lisa talks about our treasure – the gifts that are given to us from a loving Father to use to bless others and for His glory. Sometimes we hide our talents, bury them, or hoard them to ourselves. To that, she says “Faithfulness in God’s kingdom never involves hiding, hoarding, or burying. Faithfulness multiplies in order to share.” (pg.94)

Lisa continues on the following page ” God measures our faithfulness by what we do with what we have. Think of your talent as a packet of seeds…Far too many goddaughters are looking at their empty hands and forgetting what was planted in the soil of their hearts. Don’t be distracted by what your sisters have and miss out on multiplying what is already in your care.” “What are true riches? Let’s use our talents for what heaven values most: people. God gifts us to lift others.”

When was the last time you watched an artist at work and, seeing their joy expressed, were inspired to create your own art?

You, my friend, are an artist. If you’ve hidden your talent, hoarded it in fear, or forgotten that thrill of joy that comes when your talent is put to work, it’s time to start creating. Whatever your “very good at” thing is, the world needs it and is waiting for you to do it! In a season where everyone seems to desire hope, love, and joy more than ever, you are the only one who can create the unique art you were intentionally gifted to create. There may be others that seem to have the same passions or talents as you and do it well, but please don’t forget that there are people in your path, in your story, just waiting on what YOU have to offer. Don’t be distracted. Don’t be intimidated.

Just. Start. Creating.

There’s someone waiting to get lost watching you create your art.

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