Have you ever watched a painting take shape? All art starts out as a rough approximation of what it will become — much like humans. Twenty-somethings think they need to already be what they are going to be, but it doesn’t happen like that. Time and experience are worth something in the discovery of Who You Are and what you will become. Few people (if they are lucky) hit their peak in their 20’s.Think about it, if you peak out at 26, what’s left?
I stood over John Green’s shoulder as he took a blank canvas and in one hour, turned it into a landscape I know and love: a sunset off the coast of Maui. At first it was an amateurish-looking mishmash of lines and colors thrown together with no rhyme or reason (to my untrained eye.)
I’ll admit I was worried. I love his work, but I thought trying to paint something new for an exhibition was a little over the top. I was in Madison, South Dakota for our All-High-School Reunion and a celebration of the town’s 125th anniversary. John was demonstrating speed painting on the street in front of his shop. I was concerned for him that he hadn’t given himself enough time. At the half hour mark his project looked more like a painting I would do than a product of the master that he is.
I winced as I watched him speed through what he probably would normally take days to paint. It was unkempt and messy, with random lines and colors that didn’t go well together and certainly didn’t look like the photos of Maui I had provided
Then a sunset emerged. Waves on the beach took on an otherworldly light. Palm trees changed from a 3rd grader’s stick interpretation to majestic Palms shimmering in the light of the sinking sun. The clouds glowed, the sand sparkled, and the painting came to life. With each finishing stroke, John turned an ordinary painting into a thing of beauty.
There was the difference: John didn’t stop until his sunset falling across the pounding surf was finished. He kept working on it, adding color and definition here, dabbing a spot of color there.
I thought how many times we give up too soon on the masterpieces of our lives. We get to the messy stage and we give up. We stop even though the colors run together and our true beauty is yet to be defined. Maybe we aren’t quite where we thought we should be by a certain age. Maybe we thought we should have specific results due to plans we laid or cautions we took.
It doesn’t happen according to plan and we quit. We settle. We stop.
It doesn’t happen according to plan and we quit. We settle. We stop. We fall into a rut and hide there, thinking this is all there is, excusing our mediocrity.
You aren’t finished with your masterpiece until you leave the planet.
You will run into obstacles, you will make wrong turns. You will paint yourself into a corner and need to back track and sometimes start over. You will disappoint people who know and love you, just as they will disappoint you. You will run out of the colors you think you need and you will discover new colors, new techniques, new messages and new ways of being in the world.
Don’t give up on yourself. You are unfolding every day, just as that painting unfolded before my eyes. Celebrate the messiness of life and keep on going. Your masterpiece is yet to be revealed.
PS. THANKS JOHN! Got the painting yesterday and it’s hanging on my wall! 🙂 It’s beautiful and makes me feel calm!
Go Visit John’s Studio on Egan Avenue in Madison, South Dakota, or go to John Green Art Gallery online and order something!
© 2014 Beth Terry, CSP, All Rights Reserved