Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hidden Art: Chapter Four

This chapter pricked a nerve with me. I'm that person who has a modicum of artistic talent but has never done anything with it. I come from an artistic family. My oldest brother is quite talented. I'm certain I could have done more, or at least done something, with my little gift. With training, I might have acquired a little skill. As it is, I'm an ineffectual dabbler.

There's something about creativity. You feel like you're making something alive. First there's a blank paper. Then you draw or paint. And suddenly something exists that didn't exist before. This is why I can't throw out any of Julia's artwork. Each one is like a little child.
When I write a poem, it feels even more like a birth. Blogging is also creative; each post is a new creation. When I play a luscious piece of music, it's like opening a box where the music lives, and letting it out into the air for a bit, watching it swim around the room, enter our minds and hearts, and then recede into its box again until the next time it's played.

Schaeffer says that it is "crushing" to be doing uncreative work that you dislike, day in and day out, "while your art is lying buried!" (48). Buried. Yes -- it's a death image. And using your art, even in the smallest, most unskilled way, is like giving life to it. Pulling it out of yourself, looking at it, smiling at its little beauty, and letting it breathe.

Schaeffer gives many reasons why even the smallest drawing/painting/sculpting is valuable:
1. It enriches the lives of the artist and of those who view it.
2. The artist finds it enjoyable; it produces joy.
3. The artist's imagination is stimulated to produce further work. Art spawns art.
4. It fosters human relationship between the artist and the viewer, especially when it's hand-done and personal.
5. Art softens communication and can add humor to it. (Think of the facebook smiley face!)
6. If you don't create the art, it is lost, unfulfilled.
7. It can improve times of depression or dullness.
8. Art can express love and care for someone.

She gives a few ideas of how to incorporate simple art into family life:
1. Make place cards for each place at the dining table when you have company. Or make then just for your family -- this is fun. Get your kids to make them!
2. Make birthday cards or other cards by hand instead of buying them. We've also made our own wrapping paper for gifts.
3. When making lists (grocery, to do, etc.) use some nice art paper, and make the list pretty and perhaps add little flourishes or sketches on the side.
4. When writing letters, add small sketches or little watercolors to enhance and illustrate them. My mother had an artist friend who did this, and it made her personal letters so very precious to read. They were delightful!

Schaeffer illustrated her husband's sermons for her grandchildren as they sat together through church. These are simple stick figure drawings with text, but they made the message come alive for the children. She mentions that the sermon illustrations (which are really cute!) help the children remember the messages. I can't help thinking that, now that she is dead, they must be even more precious to her grandchildren. They can look at those simple pictures and not only remember the gospel, but remember their grandma's thinking, her convictions, her love for them, her devotion to their spiritual welfare -- how rich this is!

Schaeffer is right and I feel convicted. I enjoy sketching and particularly watercoloring. I've bought all the supplies. I simply need motivation to do it, to not procrastinate and assume I'll paint someday. Each time we feel the impetus to be creative and we suppress the urge, we're burying our gifts, our creativity, our God-image. Let it out!
One of Julia's last watercolor pieces this semester
(This post is part of a group book study over at Cindy's Ordo Amoris blog. Read more there about this chapter in Schaeffer's book, from many bloggers.


  1. I can't agree that you have done nothing with your talent. I've seen pictures and paintings you have made. Maybe they were too easy to count as "something"? I am one who truly has done nothing since 4th grade, except doodle "designs" on a pad while talking on the phone.

  2. Your daughter's painting is beautiful. I remember the first time that I read Hidden Art about 17 years ago. I've never been the same since. I still have the first decorated menus I created (inspired by Mrs. Schaefer) to post on the fridge so the family could drool throughout the day at the thought of the meal to come.. :)!

    Blessings, Debbie

  3. That's a great idea too, Debbie! And it accomplishes more than just beauty -- it produces drooling anticipation!! haha :)

  4. I'm thinking the important thing in looking for the Hidden Art is not the masterpieces we can produce, but how it enhances life.

    I am thinking especially on your point #6 "If you don't create the art, it is lost, unfulfilled."
    I tend toward being depressed and discouraged with life when I am not creating a bit, or seeing beauty (hidden art) in my days.

    Thanks for sharing today, I enjoyed reading!

  5. Your daughter's painting is truly lovely and I am amazed to hear of whole families of talented people. What a heritage but then I guess it can be difficult to rejoice in the ordinary sometimes too. You are a doing a good job of balancing that.

  6. i very much love your post. creating... as begetting life... interesting ideas. and the music floating around the room. yes, that.

    i'm going to re-read this.



Hello! I hope you leave a word ~ I will get back to it as soon as I can!