Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sketching (An Original Poem)

Our fourth week of arts camp came to a close Friday, and found me limping -- figuratively speaking. I am worn out and weary as we round the corner on week five, and I've been trying to find some small ways to replenish my energy reserves this weekend. Listening to Elgar, watching a brief but refreshing rain, reading...they've all helped.

I was looking through my drawing folder (a little portfolio I began to keep a year or so ago when I was sketching more) looking for a scrap of artwork I might build on to make my Daddy's 80th birthday card, when I came upon a poem I'd written and forgot about. Bits and pieces of poems are tucked all over my drawing folder because I find that sketching frees me up to poem and vice versa -- the two activities are clearly connected, and doing one often inspires me to spend time doing the other. This poem captured my imagination today not only because it reminded me of the year I spent more time drawing, and what I learned through "re-learning" how to draw, but because it's what I wish I could tell some of the older kids in our arts camp. I've been amazed at how differently younger and slightly older children approach drawing. There really is a certain age -- it's probably different for each kid -- where self-consciousness and worry about doing art "right" works its way into the minds of most children. They become cautious with the pencil or predictable in what they draw, sticking to one thing they think they know how to do well.

Here's what I wish I could tell kids -- and the grown-ups who tend to freeze up when faced with a blank page. I think one of the enemy's great lies to people of all ages is to get them to doubt that they can draw, write, paint, poem, dance, sing, or that if they try, it will be stupid or a failure or wrong or not as good as the next person's. I'm not saying that there isn't an inner critic in all of us that recognizes the difference between what we envision in our minds and what we're actually able to do, but I am saying how sad it is that we can be so crippled by the notion that we can't do it that we don't even try, don't even start. And we miss out then on one of the wondrous gifts God has given us, the gift of creativity. That's why it's such a noxious lie of the enemy.  He tells us we're not creative, or he gets us to limit the idea of creativity (the person who can draw is creative, but I can only knit or cook, and that's not creative) when the reality is, we are made in the image of a boisterously, wonderfully creative God. And he has given each one of us creative gifts to explore, enjoy, and use for his glory.


Don't freeze, flow.
Let your hand go.
Unclench your fingers
and your fears
and follow the lines.
Don't worry if
your eyes move more
quickly than your
skill can keep pace with.
Shade, center, curve,
back up, move again,
pause, re-look,
re-think, re-dream,
and start again.
For today, banish erasers
from your thoughts.
If the line won't work
where it stands,
leave it till you can
decide how to work
it back into
this newly imagined
it all, every mistake,
lines thin and tall
and squat and wide
and all
the shaky lines
you try to hide.
Don't freeze, flow.
Look. Look! Love.
And let you hand go.

~EMP (4/11)


Edna said...

Really liked the post and really REALLY liked the poem. I have definitely felt my own inhibitions in the realm of drawing/art. With writing I will be brave, but anything else "creative" not so much, b/c the ending product is so NOT what is in my brain. Yet I've seen my first graders (some of them--even by six some are constrained) creating with no self-consciousness and only joy, and wish we all could get back to that place. Thanks!

Beth said...

Edna, so glad it resonated! I too have marveled over the freedom young children have when they create. Oh, to have that bravery and abandon again!