"Why are you painting it black?" she asked.
"Because I want to paint something over it and black covers the old painting best." I sat beside the old canvas, a gift, along with an easel and two other canvases, from Christmas years ago.
I'm no painter. For awhile after I got my easel I painted just because it was fun, and I hung my art up on the wall and wrote letters to my friend Emily (who truly is a good artist!) about them.
But then the paintings came down. I looked at them from others' eyes. I saw that I couldn't paint people, that my table was at the wrong angle, that the sky outside the window was white, unpainted, that you couldn't tell what my rose was, and the book looked like it was standing up on its own. So I took my paintings down, and put them behind my bed.
Gradually, I got tired of them. They were taking up space. They were hard to clean around. They were a reminder of things I couldn't do. I gave the little painting to my younger sisters.
One noticed the white sky and crayoned it blue. I nearly cried. It wasn't good art, but it was my art.
For years I kept the big painting behind my bed, vacuuming around it, hearing it bang the wall whenever we moved the bed too much, letting it take up space.
For years I kept my last blank canvas sitting on my easel, waiting until I was better, until I could actually paint. In the end, I gave them both away.
Then I cleaned my room. Deep, get-rid-of-everything-you-don't-want cleaning. I looked at the painting. I decided. And then I gave it away.
Today I changed my mind. I wanted both painted canvases back. I bribed the sister I gave them to, bribed the other sister for loan of paint, kindly requested use of paintbrush from the other sister, then began.
I painted the small one white. White, to begin again and start over fresh. The colors underneath blurred. They ran. They blended in until it look like a rainbow in a snowstorm. I let it dry, then I applied more paint, trying to cover up the colors. I did this three, maybe four times. For the most part, all the color was covered up, and I was left with a blank canvas, right back where I started. This time I decided to paint something meaningful on it. I looked at the draft I have of all my favorite quotes. I thought about the books I've read, the things I've heard. And I decided.
"LOVE HAS A WAY OF REDEFINING BEAUTY." -Natalie Lloyd.
As soon as all the white paint dries, I'm going to boldly paint that across the redeemed canvas, a reminder that the people who love me think my paintings are beautiful. A reminder that "You (God) make everything glorious, You make everything glorious, You make everything glorious, and I am Yours, what does that make me?" A reminder that love doesn't care about the world's standard of beauty.
The other canvas; the big canvas. I painted it black. Few things have been so satisfying as pulling the brush across the canvas and seeing the deep black splash across the surface. Again, I searched for a quote, something meaningful that I wouldn't grow tired of. I decided on Mark Twain:
"DANCE LIKE NO ONE IS WATCHING. SING LIKE NO ONE IS LISTENING. LOVE LIKE YOU'VE NEVER BEEN HURT AND LIVE LIKE IT'S HEAVEN ON EARTH."
Paint like no one is judging.