A Green Man

Recently, I enrolled in the Jean Haines online art school to learn about painting atmospheric (and other) forms of watercolour. I’ve had great fun in recent weeks painting and practicing and painting and practicing and have created a lot of trash-bin-worthy pieces, and a reasonable number of pieces I’m pleased with.

Every minute I spend splashing paint around is time well spent in terms of disciplining myself to learn techniques, whether I create a painting I’m pleased with, or not. I’m logging brush miles, learning how various pigments react, and—perhaps most important of all—quieting my mind.

Occasionally, I’ve posted one of my creations on social media and, while I’ve appreciated kind words, felt uncomfortable with them at the same time. Almost like a fraud.

There are people with an innate ability to create art. I am not one of them. My measure of gifting is with the written word, not art. I hated art class in school. I felt inadequate and frustrated—perhaps the same way others felt in English class where I shone.

When I post one of my paintings, someone usually makes a comment about talent and that’s where my discomfort comes in. I have no special gifting in painting or any other kind of visual art. What I have is desire and discipline, and time in which to play. Simply that.

I wonder if many of us are reluctant to share pieces of ourself, or things we create, because we feel unworthy of the appreciation we might receive. Maybe a change in paradigm is in order.

I appreciate the work of writers who wrangle words in such a way that seems magical; painters, like Jean Haines, with a true gift in art and also in teaching; musicians like Yo-Yo Ma; vocalists like Josh Groban; and many other creatives. But, rest assured, any accolades they receive are as much for their desire and discipline as for their offering.

Yesterday, I spent a pleasant few hours in my woman cave tending to the business of living and work for Story Circle Network, then allowed myself time to paint. I reached for the wash I had done the day prior and, with Jean’s guidance, worked on the next step of my painting.

He’s not perfect, this Green Man, and I wish I had done some things differently. With practice and patience, desire and discipline, (and Jean’s tutorial, which I’ve watched so many times already I could almost recite parts of it by heart), I’ll try again. The gift, for me, is in the opportunity to practice and play and, with discipline, for a time, give in to my desire to create.


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.

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