I have never done much painting. I love drawing, but I maneuvered my art minor in such a way to avoid struggling with paint.
I love looking at paintings, and maybe part of it is that the process is so simple in concept but so complex in theory and technique. Painting holds a mystery about it because I am still academically unfamiliar with it, unlike printmaking or ceramics.
Perhaps this is why I have been stuck on an image of God as painter and identity-revealer for nearly a year now. The thought came to me at a time when discussion of identity was purely theoretical and theological; now I find myself flailing for some semblance of an identity to hold onto.
Everything about my identity seems to have changed over this year: I was completely single on January 1, 2009, and on January 1, 2010 I was married; I was a student, and now I am simply another in the ranks of the white collar workers; I was a creative writer and now I struggle to hold onto the beauty of words when my job as a grant writer requires me to fold and form them into proposals and applications and business letters.
I recently discovered that everything I care about most is non-utilitarian, whereas every aspect of my occupation is greatly utilitarian.
So I turn and turn again to a God of the easel: I imagine him seeing me, one tube of paint among many. I am the color of forests in early spring, perhaps. He picks up my color, squeezes me onto his palette. As creator of the painting, he studies where my color belongs, and as the perfect artist, he knows my place. He takes his brush and paints me onto the canvas of time, onto the canvas of the Twin Cities, onto the canvas of Northwestern College. He paints me into the spaces for which my color was made, and by doing so, he says, “This is your place.”
And he is right. As a color, I have no eyes to see this work he is making, no hands to touch its thickness and size. As a color, I must trust the artist to see me as what I am and allow me to be what I am.