Sunday, April 8, 2012

Feel the Frustration (and do it anyway)

Easter Sunrise over Atlantic Beach
How lovely to sit expectantly at the edge of the sea, watching the sky change colors every moment as the sun rises out of the ocean. How exciting to wait for the perfect moment to begin painting. How breathtaking, inspiring and frustrating!

I realized on this Easter morning that each day, I attempt the impossible. I get up before dawn, try to accurately time my arrival at the beach, find the perfect parking spot, ready my paint box, mix the colors I predict will appear in the sky and wait for the perfect moment to begin painting. I feel the thrill of each color as it appears in the morning sky and transforms into another color before my eyes. Within 15 minutes the sky turns from indigo to bright white daylight, displaying every color in the rainbow (some that I can't even identify: Pinkey-orange? Bluish-yellow?) as the sun makes it's way over the horizon. Clouds appear, transform, change color and are blown away as others take their place. It's a phantasmagoria! How can I even attempt to paint that?

It's enough to make me want to give up this silly endeavor. Who can paint the sky as it changes from second to second? Not me! Better painters than I have attempted it - who do I think I am?

Every day I want to give up! It seems like a dumb idea to start the day with an activity that makes you feel like a failure before you've even begun and it feels like hubris to even attempt it.

I could take a gorgeous photograph each morning, come home to my cozy studio and work from that. I could take hours to duplicate what was in the sky at one particular moment. I could, but where's the challenge, where's the thrill in that?

I know some of my skyscapes are decent paintings; when I get them home and am not comparing them to the actual sky, I even like some of them. But none of them even begin to capture what is in front of my eyes each morning as I survey what God is creating. I feel His effortlessness, the ease with which He creates, His grace. He breathes the sky into being.

God paints with light - my paints are made from earthly pigments - from dirt. How can light be painted with dirt? How can colors made from dirt ever approach colors made from light?

The gap between this effortlessness and my struggle is a chasm I cannot bridge.
It is the gap between God's perfection and my imperfection.

When I was younger, I had a theory: that when artists die and go to Heaven, they get to take turns creating the sunrises and sunsets. Sometimes, I think I can identify whose turn it was today. Monet paints the soft, fuzzy, pastel skies. Van Gogh and Gaughin the more colorfully dramatic.

I want to paint with a thought, a breath, by pointing a finger and sweeping it across the sky to paint orangey-pink clouds on an azure sky.I like to imagine it will be that easy when its my turn to paint from a Heavenly vantage point.

Until then, I won't give up. I'll struggle with my earthly pigments as I continue to be amazed, awed and humbled before Heavenly events.

Carry on, fellow artists, carry on.


  1. I'm am moved and inspired by this post, it is the real experience of being a painter, isn't it?! And stated so eloquently as well. Thank you for sharing what you're really thinking when you get out there to paint and personally I think that the results are wonderful!

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you so much and you're welcome.

  3. Well said Jaime! I too am humbled with painting out in nature.... I won't give up either:)

    1. You go, girl! I know you're not a quitter.