When deep inside beats the heart of an artist

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I recently pushed myself out of my comfort zone and started an art journal. This is big for a girl who has spent most of her life telling herself she “can’t do art”.

As a writer, I’ve always considered myself an artist in a broad sense. At any mention of it, however, I would always say something like, “My medium is words. My canvas has lines!”

I’ve created pictorial art before, but it was never good enough in my own eyes to give myself any credit. For years I doodled in my journal margins, depicting myself with goofy expressions and speech bubbles.

In 1990 when the death of our baby daughter rocked our world, I longed to sketch a picture of my husband in Heaven holding Heather in his arms. It wasn’t something I could commission anyone else to do; I couldn’t explain their expressions and the joy I was imagining. So I took out a pencil and a half-sheet of paper and sketched it myself. It fell far short of what I envisioned, but it was from my heart and by my own hand and on a sunny Father’s Day afternoon he cried over my gift.

Nearly twenty-three years later, it remains tucked between the pages of his Bible.

Writing comes easy to me. Not that I fancy myself that great at it, but it’s natural, like breathing. My heartbeat picks up when I write because it jazzes me. My heartbeat picks up when I sketch or paint, too, but it’s because I feel nervous. Scared. Inadequate.

Somewhere in me there has always lived a longing to create pictures. Something else in me has kept that longing from seeing daylight, and I’m not even sure why. I just know that a few months ago, God opened my eyes.

A friend invited me to a painting class where the students all follow an instructor step-by-step and create a painting. I could feel my heart pounding in my ears with those first brushes of acrylic across white. With each stroke I grew more excited as colors took the shape of a tree. The end result was a real painting, and it was my own work. I didn’t care that someone had walked me through it like a baby—it was mine!

In recent weeks I have joined an active art journaling community and started a small one of my own. I’ve begun to discover color and texture and techniques I’d never encountered before. I’m finding ways to express myself that go right to the core of the visual learner in me.

The visual learner in me. I’ve been a visual learner my whole life, so why did it take me nearly 50 years to allow myself this form of expression?

At this point I don’t even care why it took me so long. I only care that I’m no longer afraid to share my story in pictures.

My friend, what are you denying yourself that could bring your story to life?

3 thoughts on “When deep inside beats the heart of an artist

  1. So glad you are finally stepping into art journaling. I know you were really apprehensive when I bought you your art journal and supplies last year, afraid to begin.
    Wishing you the very best on this new endeavor. I have art journaled for over 25 years and find much freedom in it. If you ever have any questions, please hesitate to ask. -<3 Aj

    • What’s funny is realizing as I go that I’ve been “art journaling” in some form for most of my life, all the way back to those earliest doodles in grade school. It hasn’t taken long for me to feel like I’ve been doing this forever, and I am enjoying it very much. Thanks for your encouragement.

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