It’s been a while since I’ve been motivated to write or sketch, and that same slump has been creeping into my prayer and Bible study habits.
I decided to get back to using colored pencils during my prayer time this week, and doodling made for such a lovely time of meditating and listening. It’s easy to skip over being still and quiet as a part of prayer. For me, writing out a prayer helps me focus more intentionally, and then sketching quiets my thoughts while I wait and listen.
I have been planning for months to get myself together and start writing and posting here on the blog again in the New Year. I was all set to start tomorrow, but I feel like it would be tone deaf to today’s events to carry on like that mess in the Capitol didn’t happen. I also feel like I have nothing to add to the conversation at large that will be helpful and not just add to the cacophony.
I do feel like I can say no matter who you voted for, violently storming Congress is not the best way to be heard as anything but a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. I think a lot of hypocrisies have been exposed (again) in the powers that be that cannot be unseen and need to be examined. I think the true character of many politicians was on display, and I firmly believe that when people show you who they are, you should believe them. I think our country is resilient, but I know we have a lot of uncomfortable truths to stare down and hard conversations to have. I also know that no matter what happens on the national and international stages, I have the most impact in the communities I’m involved with, and I am to love my neighbor. That command is unconditional and irrevocable. Nations rise and fall, but the love of God and the word of God do not change.
When chaos comes calling, that’s the first thing I cling to: I have eternal hope, and I have a rock to build my life on that is unfazed by riots and party politics and pandemics. When the chaos feels overwhelming, I try to limit my exposure to news of the craziness, and then I try to do something productive. For the last month, that’s been baking bread.
We already tried and failed at the quarantine sourdough starter; no one at my house was eating the sourdough bread, and the same black thumb tendencies that kill most plants that come under my care eventually killed off the starter. But bread baking with yeast turns out to be far simpler than I remember it being, and we all like just plain-old-not-sour bread. (At least no one is complaining and refusing to eat it, so I’m going to carry on assuming everyone likes it as much as I do…)
Baking fresh bread is deeply satisfying on a lot of levels, so I’m not surprised it’s been a go-to comfort activity in the pandemic. Kneading dough is pretty physical, so it’s almost a “heavy work” activity that tends to calm our bodies and minds. Punching dough after the first rise turns out to be one of our favorite family activities – even my husband grinned when it was his turn to punch a bowl of dough. If you’re a tactile person, feeling good sandwich bread dough in your hands is pretty wonderful. I hate slime, and my daughter is obsessed with it, so there’s a metric ton of it gumming up my house, but bread dough feels like a therapeutic thing of beauty (it’s almost good enough to make me forget that slime exists).
There’s also something warm and boosting to your self-efficacy about making kitchen staples like bread – not to mention the heavenly smell of baking bread. When I made French toast with my bread, I was extremely proud that it was a meal made completely from scratch, down to the bread slices. I didn’t brag out loud then, so I’m doing it now.
Over the last month I have tweaked the recipes I started with until I found a reliable, not too crumbly, not too mushy loaf. I’m an okay cook (never expect me to pan fry anything without charring it and/or catching it on fire, and if it’s complicated or involves separating eggs, I’m probably going to fail), but I am a pretty darn good baker. And it turns out, I’m getting pretty darn good at baking bread.
After watching the news today, baking bread tonight was good for my soul. It was a little (literal) slice of normal in the midst of chaos. I got to knead and punch, and I’m currently smelling the wonder of fresh baking bread.
When the headlines and life feel overwhelming and terrible, find something good and simple and true to remind you that the chaos isn’t forever, that nothing is too big for God to handle, and that butter on hot bread is one of the greatest treasures in the world. If you’re in need of some bread and butter therapy, come on over, and I’ll bake a you fresh loaf. You can even punch the dough.
I like to process what I read when I study the Bible several different ways when I have time to really dig in. I try to read a commentary to see new angles, I take notes, and then I write and draw something that expresses what I learned and need to apply.
Today’s WIP is my doodle-notes page from Colossians 3. The text of what I wrote is below the picture.
I stand here every day in front of this closet and consider all the things I have to wear. I examine the clothes and think about how they will fit my mood or my activity or the way my body feels today. But really, I make a choice every day about what I put on and what I take off and what never even makes it to my closet for consideration in the first place. I must choose mercy and love and humility and kindness.
I must take off anger and greed and envy like dirty clothes and leave them in the heap of things that no longer suit this new creation of Christ, bathed anew in morning mercies.
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us together in perfect harmony.
This week’s art project is more of a community health project, and certainly not something I would have guessed a few months ago that I’d be taking on. I’m sewing cotton fabric masks, right now for people working in healthcare facilities and my essential coworkers. I’m sure at some point very soon, I’ll be painting more again, but right now, this is more important. I’ve definitely learned some new tricks on efficient production, and I feel like I’ll have that honed in even more by the weekend. This may not be art to most people, but sewing is creating, and I’ve certainly learned some new-to-me creative techniques this week.
I have taught art at our church’s Rec Camp for the last several years, and I’m always looking for new techniques to make sure I don’t do the same things every year. This year involved not a single drop of paint, but we did a lot of gluing.
This blanket took approximately 6 years to finish. It’s not anything fancy or large, but it languished in craft purgatory for several years. And now it’s finished!
I have a ridiculously hard time finishing projects. Sometimes it’s just that life changed, so my free time available for something changed, which is mostly what happened to this blanket. I also have crafting ADHD and tend to start something and get super excited and invested in it and then run off to another exciting technique before I’ve finished the other projects.
One of my goals is now to finish all the open projects before I start a lot of new ones. I’d like to say I’m a reformed crafter and haven’t bought more supplies while I work through the old ones, but I’d be lying. I have improved on my habits, though, so I’ve been buying less and finishing more.
I guess I am as much a WIP as the million bits of yarn and sewing and painting supplies scattered in my craft room (I mean dining room…).
I started this lovely lady months ago, but I let fear and business get in the way of finishing this one for a long time. Have you ever been afraid to mess up, so you just didn’t do anything? I think we’ve all been trapped by that at some point. What are you working on? I’d love to see what you’re up to!
I’ve been concentrating more on seeing the shapes of things and finding the simplicity of those lines. There’s no real composition work here, only getting the lines down. Maybe there’s a painting in there somewhere. We’ll see.
What are you working on? I’d love to see your work in progress!
I don’t know why, but I can’t paint or draw animals in their natural colors. I could tell you some hooey like, “I see their true colors, so that’s what I must paint.” The truth is more like, “This is fun!” It’s fun to flip the palette from the natural colors as I see them and decide on what colors can be highlights and shadows once I eliminate white and black as options. Changing the colors eliminates the need for strict realism, and it helps me look more at the shapes. And it’s fun!
Don’t be afraid to play with new colors and ideas. Stretch your brain a bit and see where your imagination will run. It’ll be fun!
The art of the scribble. I’m always afraid to commit to a line when I draw, so laying down sketch lines on a canvas to paint is pretty stressful. I practice in my sketchbook with mostly pen to fight my perfectionist tendency to erase whatever isn’t perfect, and doodle/scribble/whatever-you-want-to-call-this-pen-marking exercises help to loosen up my fingers and my brain.
This was also an excellent object lesson for the tiny human. She gets upset whenever someone doesn’t see exactly what she sees when she makes a picture, and some other tiny human had dismissed her work as “scribble-scrabble.” Scribble-scrabble is still art when you are marking the paper with your imagination. It doesn’t matter if anyone else sees what you see; even if they guess at the shapes, they still won’t see exactly what you see. But then, that’s what art is all about isn’t it?