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Finding MY art inside

Last year when I was busy liquidating my life, I placed an ad on Craigslist for our car. I got a text from a lady saying she’d love to come check it out, and when she arrived I told my son that I was going for a test drive with someone from Craigslist and to come looking for me if I wasn’t back shortly.

Nearly two hours later he came out to check on me and found two women sitting in the shade shooting the breeze. She was showing me pictures of her daughter’s horse, and I was telling her how I think the world would be happier if we threw more get togethers just for the sake of getting together.

By the time I made it inside nearly three hours later, my son was like, “Wow! That was a hard sale!”

I sheepishly replied that I hadn’t actually sold the car. We just happened to have a lot of things to talk about and the weather was lovely and now we were basically old friends.

He courteously smiled at me and gave me that look. The one that acknowledges the differences between Mars and Venus.

Just a few weeks after meeting my Craigslist friend, I invited her to go with me to the annual Art Studio Tour here in Newberg.

Each fall, about 40 artists open their studios to the public and you can go in and see where they make all the creative magic happen.

I love these tours and make it a point to go every year. I normally like to go alone on these tours, because I do not like to feel rushed, like my family is waiting for me in the car after church. Don’t rush me people. I have things to discuss and words to use and friends to make and art to soak up. I like to saunter my way through the tour.

But, my new Craigslist friend and I headed off and shared an equally high capacity for talking the ear off of each artist we met along the way.

We were still going strong when we came to the last house of the day finishing up a fun weekend of studio tours.

As we walked into this last studio, we met Edna, an 80+ year old woman dressed head to toe in lavender. She was sitting in her living room studio painting and invited us to look throughout her home at her paintings hung throughout the house.

I passed her bedroom only to peek in through the open door and see that it, too, was a sea of lavender. Lavender walls and ceiling with a lavender bedspread and lavender furniture. And there, with the window open, the breeze blew the lavender curtains.

It was charming.

I returned to the living room and sat down on the couch across from Edna and asked if she minded if I just watched her paint for a while and ask her some questions. She said she didn’t mind, so while my friend chatted with another lady, I sat there with Edna and quizzed her about how she started painting and how she fell in love with lavender.

I listened to this seemingly carefree artist tell me about her very dark childhood filled with abuse and how painting became a way for her to express the feelings of her heart that lay tucked away.

We talked for a while before I found myself blurting out this question,

“How can I find MY art inside? I want to be an artist, but I don’t paint, and I can’t draw and nobody wants to hear me sing. I haven’t found MY thing.”

Edna put down her brush and turned to give me her full attention. She said, “I can tell the problem with you Deb. You’re a perfectionist. You still critique while you create, and you can never truly create from the heart if you’re critiquing as you go. Don’t care what people think, and you’ll find much more joy in creating.”

This was both helpful and not helpful at all.

I’m not sure what I was hoping for except to find the secret path that leads to the freedom she felt sitting there in her lavender kingdom painting beautiful portraits of people out of her head.

I sat there watching her paint thinking about how I am so skilled at efficiently getting things done, but this is one area of my life I haven’t attended to properly. I sat there desperately wanting to find MY colors. MY medium. MY way of giving expression to the feelings of my heart...and I would give away all my perfectionism to feel the uninhibited joy she found in creativity, even with an audience watching.

I thanked her for her visit, and my now old friend and I left, having made a new lavender-loving-hippie-artist- friend together.

Months have passed since that day, and I’ve thought about those lavender curtains blowing in the breeze and the woman that knew her true colors.

I’ve wondered what MY colors would be if in thirty some odd years someone walked into my house and found eighty year old Deb making art. What colors would I have spread throughout my house? What art would I want hanging on my walls? What art brings me joy?

It’s starting to unfold for me, and I’m on a mission to ease up on my need for efficiency and take time to carefully figure these things out over the next season of my life.

I’m paying close attention to what colors make me happy and what colors are beautiful and soothing and make my eyes dance.

That seems like a great first step to releasing the artist within, and along the path, I hope I keep making colorful artsy friends that aren’t afraid to let their colors shine!

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