Reflections on Creativity
God could easily have stopped at the creation of the angels and had enough praise and worship for eternity. But in His creativity, He decided that the ultimate creation would be of creatures who could also create, those who were actually created to do good works. Among those good works, certainly, is art. God inspires us every day with His creation, from sunrises to sunsets to animals and flowers and the stars. As His creation, we also inspire through our good works – drawing, painting, writing, singing, as well as telling each other about the good news of Jesus Christ. And this good work is, in some mysterious way, fulfilling to God. Ephesians 1:22-23 says, “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” It is one thing to say that Jesus completes us, which is obvious, but it is even more profound to say that we complete Christ. We are His Body, and it is unavoidable that we have work to do that is important to Him. But that work should be interpreted broadly, as broadly as God’s work is pictured in Scripture. In the fullness of time, God created His masterpiece, the Church. In the same way, we should be working toward our ultimate masterpiece, being the spotless Bride in complete obedience to what He has called us to do on this earth.
I’ve often been asked why I mostly only draw in graphite, in black and white. Why not use color? I tell people that I haven’t even mastered black and white yet, so why attempt color? But the truth is, I am fascinated by the play between light and shadow, and that contrast is nowhere more interesting than in a graphite drawing. The thing I continue to ponder after over a decade of making these kinds of pictures is the focus that I need to have on shadows or negative space. We are told so often in Scripture that we are to be people of light, that as Philippians 4:8 says; we should dwell on the good, stay in the light. Yet, to be a successful pencil portrait artist, I need to dwell on the dark parts of a subject, because that’s where the realism comes from. If I can just successfully define the dark portions of the subject, then mysteriously, the viewer’s eye will be drawn to the lighter portions. In fact, if I do my work well, they will not even notice the shadow areas, which will recede into the background. The thing I spend the most time on, they will spend the least time looking at. Without them even knowing, they are being forced away from the dark and made to consider the light. This is especially true of the subject’s eyes. The eyes “work” in a drawing because of the shadows all around (and even in) them. I believe there is something of the work of Christ in all of this. Jesus hung on a cross, wearing our sin-suit, completely immersed in darkness, so that we would be driven to the light and see God for who He truly is. As a result of Christ’s sacrifice, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can desire to be people of the light and we can dwell on the things that please God and that bring Him glory, including our art.
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