Saturday, August 20, 2011

Joy In The Journey

"The nature of God is a circle
of which the center is everywhere
and the circumference is nowhere."
Empedocles, 490-430 BC

The smell of coffee brewing and bacon sizzling reminds me that the journey can be as wonder-filled as the destination. Fellow artists- enjoy the journey! And remember, with art we are all students.

My love for math ended in the Third grade. Standing at the blackboard with chalk in hand, I stared at the problem before me while my teacher and peers looked on. Before that moment, math was my favorite subject, but with the introduction of long division, there occasionally came something previously unseen in my mathematical career- a remainder. Heretofore, problems worked out neatly. Two plus two equaled four. Seven minus one equaled six. There was closure that, for me, was satisfying. With division, there was the possibility of leftover numbers. I didn't like that. So my division always worked out even. No remainders. Ever. To correct this, my teacher called me to the board one day. I began the problem and as I neared the end I realized it wasn't going to work out even. So I drew a line under the last number and wrote 'zero'. A few people laughed while the teacher sighed. She explained the problem. I understood the problem. But, I didn't like it.

It was years before I understood why.

As I consider the notion of teaching art, a thought continues to surface- from caves to chapels, art is about choices.

As Dorothy Sayers eloquently says, art begins in the mind of the maker. And then, let the choices begin. Color, size, material...

I have been working (trudging slowly) through the process of illustrating a children's book. Every artist's process is personal. Mine involves trial-and-error. A lot of error. I begin with thumbnails. Like these:

Eventually, an image evolves.

Final Version

For this series, I arrived at producing pieces on a variety of materials, from papyrus to wood. This piece is on cardboard from a Zao water box-

Exodus 17:6

A matter of choice brings me back to my third grade blackboard. Standing there, staring at the problem (gently corrected by my teacher), this thought began to form-

Why is there only one correct answer?

I understand, and take comfort in the fact that, in this life, there are singular absolutes. I also revel in the wonder of this thing we call art, because with art we have as many correct answers as we have artists. And, as Michael Card says, "there is a joy in the journey."

A new video from my son, Samuel:


  1. Thanks for the words and the message that the words convey. I have not been very productive this summer as our living space is filled with seven. I am not good at stealing some time early or late to write. You are a blessing. I was with Joe about two weeks ago, had lunch together. Tedd

  2. I feel the same way about remainders! Kind of like sentence fragments.

  3. Love the piece on cardboard! and the thought that we each have something to offer as an answer, if we have worked at our art