Tuesday, July 6, 2010

From the Inside Out or Ouside In

I ran a little summer art class yesterday designed to teach kids to draw a variety of animals using basic shapes. Some of the kids had little art experience and a few had a strong art background. I know this because I had been their teacher for years (haha, no ego problem here!).

Anyway, using just squares, rectangles, circles, and triangles, you can draw anything if you can just train yourself to break objects down visually to those parts. Even as a professional artist of some 30 years now, I still draw using this method to set the drawing up.

One of my very talented students had just returned from a scholarship camp with Savannah School of Art and Design- one of the premier art schools in the country. She really hates this method, and I applaud her for willingly attending class and forcing herself to "block" her drawing out this way. She is so talented that she can just draw without using this type of guide, but then runs into problems with perspective or running our of room on her page for the full drawing. Back from the art camp, she had a greater appreciation for "blocking" out shapes this way.

"Is this what they taught you to do?" I asked.
"A little," she responded, "But they also taught us gesture drawing. Blocking shapes is kind of drawing from the outside in, but gesture drawing is building from the inside out."

I love that description and she is absolutely right. I wish I had said it. Since it is my blog I could have lied and attributed that nugget of pithy wisdom to me and no one would have known.... except YOU KNOW WHO. What I love about it is that is shows drawing can be approached from two distinctly opposite beginnings and still end in the same place- a masterpiece that sells for millions and buys that log cabin by a river in the mountains with a pillow top sleep control bed and expensive chocolates on my pillow. And better yet, I love the symbolism of the concept which can be applied to our walks with God.

I think most of us have very similar goals in life that boil down to loving others well and being well loved and figuring out who we are, where are we going, and how do we get there? Furthermore, I believe strongly that God put all those longings in us to direct us to Him.

And here comes the delicious symbol- we can accomplish this in two basic ways. We can grow towards Him from the outside in or from the inside out. Sometimes we don't feel faith, or joy, or love.... but if we act as though we have those qualities, something begins to change inside and sometimes without even knowing how it happens, we do have faith, joy, and love.
On the other hand, sometimes all those outer trappings of who we are are disturbingly horrid and no one would ever know that deep within us, a compassionate Creator has planted a seed that is slowly growing and will one day, maybe far far in the future, sprout buds of hope and joy and belief, transforming us from the inside out.

In either case, I almost always end up with a student in tears sometime in the class.
"But I hate it!!!" they wail, "It doesn't look anything like a horse!!!" And it doesn't. During the process of growing a drawing, it often looks awful. It often only comes together in the very end. My more mature students have come to understand that.

So I wonder why I am so impatient with God's creation.
"But Father!! I hate it! It doesn't look anything like justice, or love, or kindness."
"Patience," He counsels, "It will, in the end, it will."

Luke 11:39-41 (New International Version)

39Then the Lord said to him, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

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