In Chapter 4 Edith discusses how to incorporate “Painting, Sketching, and Sculpturing” into everyday life as an expression of creativity and encourages us that we can do so without having formal training or making a career of it. It can be used, just like the other categories of creativity that she’s discussed, to enrich our lives and stimulate our imaginations.
This chapter was a little harder for me because I have absolutely no talent in this area. In fact, a photo I saw on Pinterest pictures this perfectly:
I don’t even do stick figures very well, though they were useful at times when I had a little one on my lap that I was trying to entertain and keep relatively still and quiet, in church or a doctor’s waiting room. I’d draw something and ask them what it was, and they’d recognize my fledgling attempts to portray a duck or a car (I had to laugh when the Cube first came out because they looked just like the cars I used to draw.)
I don’t even remember doodling much in high school or college. In Junior High a new classmate said something about having had art in her previous school, and I was incredulous and envious. I don’t remember having any kind of artistic instruction in school (until a college Art Appreciation class), and no one in my family, as far as I knew, had any artistic tendencies. Somehow my middle son developed a talent for drawing quite well in his later high school and college years, mostly teaching himself with various art books, except for a year or when he was under the instruction of a gifted art teacher who helped him refine his talents.
I went through a “paint by number” phase in elementary school. I did enjoy a little bit of painting when a talented lady in one church we were in hosted a night to teach other ladies how to paint a flower on a tote bag. She used the same pattern with everyone to make easier to teach en masse but had different paints so we could each choose our own colors. It was exciting to me to learn to use light and shade to make a flat blob of a flower appear more realistic. I took a couple of One Stroke painting classes at Michael’s and loved them, but just never went any further with it.
But though I can’t draw well, I can use aids. I went through periods of using stamps or stencils or even stickers to make cards or decorate various things. I like to buy decorative Post-it notes or notepads rather than plain ones. I disagree with Edith when she says “Original ideas carried out can be an expression of love and care which cannot be made by buying something ‘ready made’ or plastic” (p. 50). I think that kind of thinking can be burdensome and guilt-inducing, to feel personally or to make our loved ones feel that a gift that’s store-bought doesn’t “measure up” to something hand-made.
She didn’t discuss art appreciation in this chapter, but she has discussed in other chapters that we can come to appreciate forms of creativity that we may have no talent in ourselves. I did mention an Art Appreciation class in college: I enjoyed it, but didn’t retain much from it, perhaps because one can’t go over the material as readily as one can music from Music Appreciation.
Unfortunately we did not go to museums much as the children were growing up, so I’m afraid I’ve perpetuated my ignorance in this area. I found one neat book about identifying art and artists that I wanted to use some time with them, but we never got around to it. These days, however, there is so much information available on the Internet that one can learn something of classic art if one wants to. I did discover over the years that I seem to like realistic more that abstract art, like that of Normal Rockwell and some of the old masters, though I liked some of the Impressionists, too, like Mary Cassatt. I find that I do enjoy art more by learning about it: the last time we were at a museum, as we were leaving I saw there were headphones one could use for a self-guided tour, and I thought that would be the way to really get the most out of it (for me).
But besides learning about great paintings and painters, one can develop an eye for artistry, for appreciation of color and design. I think for me that happened mostly through a Home Interiors class (thankfully interior decorating is the next chapter!) and then grew through various craft classes and helped as I started doing a newsletter for our church ladies’ group in terms of layout, making a cover page that is reasonably attractive, etc. Someone who really knew what they were doing in that area could probably point out many ways in which I could improve, and that’s fine – we all can grow, no matter what our level of knowledge or talent. But I am thankful for the ways I have grown so far.
I liked her idea of using drawing, even simple stick figures, to not only help keep a child’s interest during a sermon but also to help them grasp what was being taught. A former pastor used to say that it helped him in his Bible study to draw things out as he read.
My favorite line in this chapter, which really could be applied to the whole book, is “Ideas carried out stimulate more ideas” (p 49). I tend to gather a lot of ideas and my imagination can be stimulated by perusing Pinterest or web sites or books, but even that doesn’t compare to actually carrying out those ideas. Whatever area of creativity we’re discussing, just starting in some way or another stimulates more ideas, more creativity.
You can find more discussions on this chapter here.