The bottom drawer in my desk is my favorite. If you were to pull it open you would discover colored pencils, paints, sketch books, drawing pencils, an easel, and supplies to make photo cards. I love buying art supplies! The possibilities are endless! Unfortunately, besides writing and photography, using the supplies has been far more elusive as I haven’t known what to do with them, and so the artist within has stayed tucked away down in that drawer. But this all changed when I signed up for a drawing class this last winter.
Taught by a local artist, our teacher has been taking us through the delights of drawing with pencils, pens, and colored pencils. Sitting in class drawing away is my favorite time of the whole week. I am so blissfully happy with pencil or pen in hand and a sketchbook in front of me. I never knew I could feel such joy creating art or that there really was an artist within bursting to get out! It feels like I’ve stepped off a cliff and discovered I can fly. So far I’ve drawn seashells, birds, fish, landscapes, and still lifes. Though it’s tempting to judge my own work with a critical eye, finding fault in this line or that perspective, I’ve made it a habit to find something I love in every drawing on which to focus. This keeps the art form fun and I enjoy what I create.
Recently, we worked on landscapes using pens. By the end of class, some people finished their pictures while others, like myself, we’re only partly done. I like mine and took the drawing home to finish (photo right), but sat there thinking if I wasn’t so concerned making things look right or being so careful with the marks I made, I, too, would be further along. People who finished drew bolder, faster lines. Abandoning firm control, they drew daringly, capturing the feeling instead of just the fine details. There is a time for both styles, and I wondered: how much of my life do I use being too cautious, too careful, instead of being bold and daring? How much time in my journey with God do I spend attending to the fine details and ignore the larger picture? Am I so caught up in drawing the weeds on the rocks I completely miss the beauty of the trees?
While endeavoring to boldly draw the trees behind the pond, I listened as our teacher worked her way around the room. She is always so encouraging, genuinely admiring something about each person’s drawing, and when she adds to it you never get the sense she’s correcting you, but making something good even better. Her style reminds me of God—so uplifting. I never feel looked down on, but delighted in. I feel freedom to be myself, freedom to draw whatever comes and to enjoy the experience. Without limits imposed by myself, my teacher, and certainly not by God, I can experiment with confidence, have fun learning, and take each picture as an opportunity to learn to draw more like me. Truly, whether in drawing or walking with God, there are no limits. We are free to run through the fields, explore, and have fun. We are artists of the spirit—here to paint the sky with wild abandon.
A question I’ve asked myself is how do I express my spiritual experience in my drawings? I may never have an answer and I don’t think it needs one. This class has been entirely for my own pleasure and is one of the best things I’ve done for myself in a long time. I’ve already come so far as an artist and as a person—I’m certain it won’t be my last art class, and certainly not the last time I draw a picture and God uses the experience as yet another way to speak to my soul.
Sarah Katreen Hoggatt has authored several books, including the recently released In the Wild Places. A freelance writer, international speaker, editor, and spiritual director with a passion for ministering to fellow souls, she holds a Masters degree from George Fox Evangelical Seminary. Sarah lives in Salem, Oregon, and is a member of Riversway Friends Church of Northwest Yearly Meeting.