Wednesday, February 18, 2009

So, I'm up painting tonight.
No particular reason.
Or so I thought.
I had a grand idea. I'd already finished one painting (see above), and was going to do another. Earlier today, I'd sketched in the final details of the second of two frog paintings and even outlined the artwork.
But, when it came time to paint the second one, I was struggling. I messed up so many times. Paint was too thick here. It wasn't blending there. I tried different mediums - water, blending gel... different brushes. Nothing worked.
So, I did what most artists do on a white canvas background. I used white paint as my "eraser". Very carefully, I dipped in a tiny brush and painted around my newly and beautifully sketched artwork. My mistakes were in the background, and needed to be erased. The white went on smoothly in the larger areas... but as I neared the sketched and inked work... my hands shook and I spilled over the lines. I didn't like it, but I continued. I spilled more. I was frustrated... but I continued. Using different brushes and angles, I desperately tried to cover all of my mistakes.
It was no use. The white paint was now piling up and making a textured line around the artwork. Not what I had intended.
Then... my mind cleared.
"You gotta do what God does with you, Jen - a complete do-over."
Reluctantly, I picked up a fat brush, dunked it in white paint, and painted broad strokes across the small canvas. I deliberately went over my sketched and inked work (the frog). And... there was peace.
All of the mistakes I had made were gone. In an instant. And, all of my "saving it" was for nothing.
A complete do-over. The areas that were riddled with mistakes were now clear. The outline is still barely visible underneath the new white coat. Something I can finally work with!
Isn't that how it is with us?
We make mistakes. Several of them in a row. Hoards of them.
Then, with everything we have, we attempt to clean it all up ourselves. We struggle, we research and try new methods, we try new angles at the same old problems. And... in the end, we get the same, ugly results.

God wants to do a do-over with me, with all of us. He wants to use the broad, wonderful brush of forgiveness... a fresh start.

I'm grateful for this midnight lesson. God is good.

My white frog is drying now. And my blog is posted.

Ever wonder what goes on late at night in Jen's dining room? Now you know...

God's giving her painting lessons.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

When I was little, dad used to recite poems at the dinner table. This was one of my favourites...
Love and miss you, dad.

The Cremation of Sam McGee
by Robert William Service, 1874 - 1958
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee,
where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam
'round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold
seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he'd often say in his homely way
that 'he'd sooner live in hell.'

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way
over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka's fold
it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze
till sometimes we couldn't see;
It wasn't much fun, but the only one
to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight
in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o'erhead
were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and 'Cap', says he,
'I'll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I'm asking that you
won't refuse my last request.'

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn't say no;
then he says with a sort of moan:
'It's the cursed cold, and it's got right hold,
till I'm chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet 'tain't being dead -- it's my awful dread
of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you swear that, foul or fair,
you'll cremate my last remains.'

A pal's last need is a thing to heed,
so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn;
but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day
of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all
that was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn't a breath in that land of death,
and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn't get rid,
because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say:
'You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it's up to you,
to cremate those last remains.'

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid,
and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb,
in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight,
while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows --
Oh God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay
seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent
and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad,
but I swore I would not give in;
And I'd often sing to the hateful thing,
and it harkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge,
and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice
it was called the 'Alice May'.
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit,
and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then 'Here', said I, with a sudden cry,
'is my cre-ma-tor-eum'.

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor,
and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around,
and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared --
such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal,
and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn't like
to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled,
and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled
down my cheeks, and I don't know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak
went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow
I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about
ere I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said:
'I'll just take a peep inside.
I guess he's cooked, and it's time I looked';
. . . then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm,
in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile,
and said: 'Please close that door.
It's fine in here, but I greatly fear,
you'll let in the cold and storm --
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee,
it's the first time I've been warm.'

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.