I met Pearl Allard through another writer friend. Pearl had driven a fair distance to be at my friend’s release party. And I knew right away I had met someone special—loyal, creative, and a kindred spirit in finding the beautiful in the not always pretty.
It’s a privilege for me to introduce you to her, and I hope you’ll love Pearl as much as I do. And, for the record, I didn’t know how much my little comments meant to her and I certainly didn’t she was going to write about it here. I’m still blushing 🙂
They were a lifeline from heaven; number twos drew me to Number One. How I don’t know, but those pencils were the only light during the darkest time of my life. I was desperate to see something, anything good, groping through blackness. Sketching brought meager solace.
I drew to learn to see. To cling to beauty. To escape. Though my soul anguished under the weight of oppressive darkness, I held a flicker of light. Something living, and good, still lurked when I looked at my imperfect rendering. It sparked hope—and guilt came galloping on its heels.
I made this. Is it wrong to feel this happiness? Surely it’s arrogant to enjoy it—an idol?! Confusion and shame bullied joy and kicked it to the ground. Best to give all the pieces away, don’t remember them, don’t talk about them, and for God’s sake don’t enjoy them.
That was the same summer my aunt asked me to teach art to my home-schooled cousins. Their remote dwelling in the woods, at the end of a long, dusty lane leading to a lake, was my sanitarium.
I pored over the material late into the night—the lament of the loons drifting in through screened windows—soaked it all in, and wrung it out teaching with an enthusiasm I hardly understood. The spiritual parallels bubbled out and over—probably way over the head of my three pupils, the youngest only eight.
Treasure-hunting in the nearest tiny town’s second-hand shop unearthed an ancient-looking leather clutch. I carried my pencils in this work of art and pretended I was an artist. Was it wrong to pretend? A girl of twenty? It was time to grow up.
It was time to admit that creating art, if you could call it that, was a gift given to be re-gifted. Wasn’t that why we each have certain abilities—to give joy to others? I signed my name and didn’t look back—the recipients’ smiles an acknowledgment I’d successfully given happiness away.
Art was something I left behind, never perceiving its full value or purpose.
Fast forward nearly two decades.
I hunched over my toes, digging into the comforting softness of pulverized, timeworn rock. The gulls were quiet and the wind gentle. It was a rare day of warmth on the Oregon coast. The endless expanse beckoned a glimpse, but my view focused opposite.
I observed my mother snapping away, capturing the beauty of her gleeful grandchildren with her Nikon D810. A stranger approached her, pointed to the camera, and motioned to her and the children. She smiled, shook her head, and continued shooting.
Later she joined me on the beach towel and slipped her camera back in its bag. As we watched tentative kites rise and dip she said,
“I laugh when someone asks, ‘Do you want to be in a picture, too?’” I shifted to face this wealth of wisdom. Out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed surging waves crashing at their assigned limit. “I tell them, ‘I’m in every picture.’”
Earlier that day, I did two somethings I’d never done before. I snapped a photo of a drawing I’d done years ago (and given to my dad). And, on a whim, I shared it on social media.
I’d long since given up drawing. My formal teaching consisted of two junior high classes. Artist was a word I wore like a child playing dress-up. Drawing had simply been an exercise in staying alive—a clinging to shreds of beauty in the overwhelmingly ugly.
The comments shocked me—especially one by Janyre Tromp, an author, artist, and editor I respect. Her comment validated my effort to capture beauty and ignited the thought to begin again. But there was more. Like two key puzzle pieces, Janyre’s comment and my mother’s wisdom helped me see the bigger picture.
A new thought surfaced, so precious I was afraid it might pop like the bubbles on the foaming shore—
I just have to get over myself. Because—the reaching tide of the Pacific blurred—
Because I’m God’s living artwork—creating art. God is already in everything I create.Tweet This
He’s in every picture.
So as you fumble through your art, attempting to recreate the beauty you see, don’t overlook that ultimate Beauty has already recreated you. You are a priceless masterpiece designed to showcase the Master Artist’s power and love. Since it’s all about Him, you have permission to enjoy the art God is working in and through you. It’s ok to enjoy the works of your hands because they’re really an extension of His.
God is in every picture.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8a (NKJV)
Pearl Allard is happily-mostly-aftered to her hero of thirteen years and is a stay-at-home mama to two crazy-wonderful kids in Southwest Michigan. She blogs weekly at Look Up Sometimes, nurturing Son-followers to embrace grace. You can also reach her on Facebook or Instagram.