Making Peace with Art

I haven't picked up a paintbrush since I traveled to Italy last summer for an art and faith retreat. 

{Unless of course you count the mirror I painted a few weeks ago}.

I certainly intended to paint. Maybe even regularly.

I carefully brought home all the art supplies the instructors gave us in Italy. I artfully arranged all the paintbrushes in a little vintage vase and put them on display. I even set my little sketch of a face I drew in Italy beside my brushes.

But I haven’t attempted to paint or draw or do anything at all with them. 

Eventually I moved them out of sight into my sideboard, where now I’m surprised when I encounter them as I rummage through the drawers. 

That's when I remember I had good intentions to keep painting.

So when a friend invited me to one of those paint nights where you follow along with an instructor, I thought I’d give it a try. 

It's supposed to be so easy to create art at these festive evenings, that practically anyone can take home a masterpiece.

I figured the birdcage swinging from a tree with a little red bird perched inside didn’t look all that complicated to copy, but I made sure to keep my expectations in check.

I’d just begun to apply paint to my canvas when I ran into a snag. 

My globs of paint must have been smaller than recommended because I was completely out of my blended mix of colors long before I'd covered even half of the canvas. 

I ended up with uneven shades of blue instead of the nice, all-over turquoise shaded canvas of the instructor, but I wasn’t worried.

I soon realized I didn’t have an eye for scale either since my bird was quite tiny compared to the example. But I figured my diminutive bird could just enjoy a much roomier home instead of a cage that was far too small for him to stretch his wings.

{Admirable way to look at it, right?}

For most of the night, I listened to the women around me lament their painting skills to their friends. 

It was all good-natured but as I gave a critical eye to my work of art, I felt a little like an art-sophisticate {if there were such a thing}.

I’d been where they were. 

I had high hopes to create some sort of art in Italy but I was disheartened that I couldn’t replicate what the instructor showed us and I was intimidated by what I thought I was lacking instead of embracing an extraordinary adventure.

But I’ve decided to make peace with my artful endeavors. 

This word -- peace -- has been ringing in my ears lately. Maybe this is the New Year's resolution I've been waiting for, showing up a little late but welcome, just the same. 

{Is it too late for peace to be my one word for 2016?} 

I think there’s something artful about making peace with the pieces of your life.

I might be painting a picture with watercolors or with words. I could be cooking up a new dish or a new business idea. I might adorn a room in my house or a blog post with my photos. 

All of it's art. These endeavors will move me to future undiscovered places -- peculiar and quirky, strange and unfamiliar, exhilarating and exciting, and even uncomfortable and awkward. 

Maybe it shouldn't surprise me that peace about all of it is upon me these days. 

Peace sometimes comes quietly, after hard work and a long fight. After a wrestling with expectations and ambitions and hopes, peace softly settles in.

It joins these cherished gifts, with a beauty we yearn for:
 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. - Gal. 5:22

So I took my painting home and wondered what to do with it.  

I thought if I set it next to my candleholder that has a similar design it might look as if it were a source of inspiration for my art. 

What do you think? {Hmmm, I wasn't so sure about it either.}

I think I'll get out those brushes and paper I brought home from Italy and practice making some more art.

And maybe I should just put my little bird on canvas in the closet and let it rest in peace.

There's still time to join me and my friend Heather at Recollected Design via a Facebook group beginning Feb. 15 to study Angie Smith’s Seamless, to see how the people and promises of the Bible fit together and what they mean for our lives. Get a copy of the book here or here and come join us on Facebook! 

I'm having coffee with my friends Holley Gerth at Coffee for your Heart and Bonnie Gray at the Faith Barista


  1. ...'rest in peace'... oh girl you slay me...Too funny! I love how you've made your peace with what your artistry is and I also love that we are 'peculiar' together today... ♥! And I too have had the fruits of the spirit on my mind for all of January...God must be trying to speak the same lessons into both of our lives! Also loving and mulling over this quote of yours: "I think there’s something artful about making peace with the pieces of your life." <-- AMEN!! (and your little bird just may have inspired me to tweet it!♥)

    1. Heather,
      Those words in that verse are some of my favorites! Although they're a little more difficult to incorporate into my life. And I LOVE that you tweeted it -- maybe THAT was my inspiration - the Twitter bird logo! :)

  2. I came to call because my nerves are a bit {or more!} frazzled after my 8th visit to the dentist in 3 months. I kept breathing that word PEACE in and out during the hour in the chair.

    I knew I'd get a breath of needed fresh air when I came here, but had no idea that the gift of PEACE would be your offering.

    Wow. I love when God does that. You've ministered to my soul once again today, Valerie. And I LOVE the way your colors melded together on the canvas.

    1. Linda,
      Oh my! Visits to the dentist certainly do not inspire peace but you are a brave woman to endure 8 visits in such a short period of time! That word, peace, has really come to mind each time I thought about a word for the year, but I ignored it thinking it was just something I wanted and not divinely inspired, but maybe it is after all. And it's awfully kind of you to compliment my colorful canvas! xo

  3. You inspire me, Valerie, with your "artful" words and pics. :) I love that you gave your "diminutive" bird room to spread his wings. Also the variance of colors in the background make it even more artistic and unique. This line really jumped out at me - "I think there’s something artful about making peace with the pieces of your life." Awesome observation that I will keep pondering on. Blessings and hugs to you!

    1. Trudy,
      Maybe I should have used the bird in your post as my model and my rendition would have looked more like a bird -- mine's just a little skinny! :) {I can think up an entire storyline for him!} I think peace is quite the discipline and doesn't come easily. But maybe it's like art and practicing improves it!

  4. So amusing about letting your bird rest in peace in the closet! Very apt and insightful about that elusive word " peace". I learn something new every time I visit your blog Valerie!

    1. Thank you! And peace is elusive and worth pursuing, isn't it?

  5. Nope, I think peace is the perfect word for 2016. I've been pondering the same thought...about the things we create being art. It's making me shift my perspective on writing and look at it as an art form, something I can be creative with, yet become masterful at.

    I love those art socials! I'm not good at drawing, but I love trying :) You did much better than you think ;)

    1. Alecia,
      Viewing our lives as artful gives it more meaning, doesn't it? And everything we do takes practice - -I'm not sure why I think something I've never tried before should be good because that's just not the way it is!

  6. Hi Valerie- You did great! I love the painting and your drawing of the face is great!! I love what you wrote about making peace with your art and with your life though- so good to think about and to work out. It is kinda a battle of expectation and reality isn't it? It does bring peace to accept the reality or even welcome it as its own special thing and let go of the perfect out come we dreamed of. It seems to me when I let that go I can more easily welcome the different outcome with grace - When we have to draw with our opposite hand all the expectation goes out the window and it is nice. It kind of flips things around for me mentally too - instead of being negative expecting it to be better I am surprised that its not so bad. :) Anyway I loved this post and seeing your art! Thanks so much for sharing it and the journey too! I am so, so, with you on this and need to go make peace with a few pieces tonight! ;) hugs :)

    1. Hi Susie,
      Expectations are so hard for me! I always try to plan exactly how something should go and of course, things never go as I imagine. I know it's part of my planner-personality but I'd so like to improve in this area! I can definitely see how drawing with your opposite hand would leave expectations in the dust -- I have no idea what that would look like! I'm so glad you can relate to the making-peace effort - in all areas of our lives! xo

  7. I love your painting! I've always thought about doing a group art class like that and you've inspired me. And peace...its just never ever too late to choose it!

    1. Tiffany,
      Well you are too kind about my painting! :) But I would definitely do the group class again -- it's non-threatening and I think practice may help me improve!

  8. It is never too-late to decide on a word for the year! God's time is so much different than ours, I say! I love the soft blue in your painting. Very peaceful.

    1. Hi Lynn,
      Thanks for stopping by! I think you're right -- maybe this is just the right time to choose my word!

  9. I didn't remember your face sketch being so beautiful - you may have more hidden artistic talents than you think

    1. My little portrait doesn't look so bad from a distance! :)

  10. Valerie,
    Your painting looks beautiful and so does your face're talented...if I painted a face, well let's not go there...and this is so true: "I think there’s something artful about making peace with the pieces of your life." It is part of integrating our life stories...such a process ...and it is definitely not too late to have your one word, especially if that is what the Spirit keeps whispering to you...blessings :-)

  11. Dolly,
    I just love what you said about integrating our life stories -- all the pieces of them! And I'm truly grateful for your kind words about my little face sketch! :)

  12. No it isn't too late to choose peace as your word. ;)
    I have always heard about those paint places, but I am so terrible. I like your idea of our words being art!

  13. I like the tiny bird in the large birdcage. If that is where the bird is most at peace then who can argue with that? Trying to replicate an art piece that someone else made is hard though, because the person who created the original has different life experiences than you. When you try to replicate it, your own life ends up shining through and it becomes a different piece of art. I took a LOT of art classes as a child and through college and figured this out about myself. I'll show you photos of some paintings I did in high school.

    1. Ben,
      I had no idea you were so artful and I would love to see the photos of your paintings! You're right, though, replicating a piece of art never looks the same as original! :)


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