to show up


I became petrified of showing up. Somewhere along the way, I paused


…I liked too much the feeling of hovering, just one breath too much.  I believe that flickers of rest—glimpses into that divine, sought-after stagnancy—are vital for growth.  But this delicate balance of resting and hovering is one I broke with my tendency toward extremes.  Before stepping into my studio, I paused to catch my breath.  I tried to prematurely dissect that which I simply did not have the ability to know.  I reached for every scribbled-down reminder that I do receive inspiration, sometimes.  I strained my arms to gather my needs like strings, as if I could contain them all.  An isolating act, a frivolous delay, and

I recall

though I am not moving, I am
far from being

And so, this piece is the result of what it meant to be still and to be advancing, together.  This will not be my first time admitting that my art is not my own.  In fact, if I had it my way, my pieces would carry with them the “cool” of a minimalist, and the push-the-envelope innovation of your keenest, liberal artist.  But God just made my hands to move in a different way, I suppose.  I choose; every second I am choosing—the color, the placement, the stain.  But before I began my choosing, I was chosen.  And I am chosen to show up and to paint His way, still.

I arrived at my place, unwound and unready and willing to bet that if I only made it to that piece of vellum on the wall, that would be enough.  The fuchsia rolled onto the sheet easily, like a melting.  It was weightless to me.  (It isn’t the beginnings of paintings that I fear…it is their requests for commitment.)  I worked into this small piece of paper like it was crying, and my lack of touch would evoke the howl.

keep at it.  keep me.  keep going keep me going.

The sun was a tool that day, helping me mix the ochres with the oils.  It sped up the period of panic, too, as I stepped back to watch the thick, acrylic white bury my proof that I’d worked for hours.  It was a shell over every detail that I thought I found beautiful.  Too much striving, too much attachment to a line, and I must enter that phase of the process called destruction.

It is always harder to show up after destruction.  But I do, and I did, and my piece received my utmost eyes.  What remains is a work that houses layers of doing and undoing.  It promotes the barely-there lines that matter, just as much as the concentrated blues.  It is a reminder that our timidity to advance is often a side effect of a much more delicate complexity—one that eradicates pride and seeps slowly our imperfections.  Acknowledging our internal, beautiful mess takes time.

This piece is entitled “A Face for the Willing.”