In college I took a lot of art classes which were required for my major, and I loved creating all of the projects that went along with those classes. I’ve always loved creating, and I think it started with that first whiff of Play Doh® in kindergarten and rolling out my first “snake.” But somewhere along the way of a too-busy life, creating has been put aside to make way for the tyranny of the urgent. And I’ve missed it. I’ve missed it terribly.
In his book Life after Art: What You Forgot about Life and Faith since You Left the Art Room, Matt Appling not only reminds me of what I’ve missed and forgotten, but he also gives me hope that I can get it back. That I need to get it back. He says, “I suspect humanity’s drive to create is one of the keys to what it means to be ‘made in the image of God.'” That is incredibly validating to me. He reminds me that God placed this need to create within me. He is the Master Creator of all and I am made in His image. Not only is creating not a waste of time, but it is also a way to honor God and display His presence in my life.
One of the most refreshing and intriguing aspects of this book is the author’s insistence on “following directions” when it comes to art. It seems like following directions has become a negative thing – especially when it comes to creativity. In fact following directions is viewed as practically anti-creative. But Matt says, “Trying to rebel against the constraints in your life, trying to color outside the lines that have been laid out for you, is not a recipe for success. . . It is a recipe for frustration, for discontentment, for defeat in life.” There are rules for creating art, and the first one is NO GLITTER. (LOL – you’ll have to read the book to understand that!)
Don’t get me wrong. This book is not a legalistic list of do’s and don’t’s for art or for life. However, there are certain limitations or constraints that have been put in place by God for both art and life. If we try to color outside of those lines, as Matt says, then the result is chaos. And chaos is rarely beautiful or beneficial in life or in art.
Please read this book. Even if you think you are not the creative type and are completely uninterested in art, I promise you will learn so much more than you think you will. Do like I did and read it with a highlighter in your hand. My copy is glowing with neon yellow lines. And I plan to re-read this book as soon as possible. Matt is smart, witty, compassionate and understanding. I believe you will relate to him on many levels. And, who knows? You just might find you have an inner artist lurking deep inside!