The Beautiful Distraction of Painting

“Painting is complete as a distraction. I know of nothing which, without exhausting the body, more entirely absorbs the mind. Whatever the worries of the hour or the threats of the future, once the picture has begun to flow along, there is no room for them in the mental screen.”

Winston Churchill – “Painting as a Pastime”

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For our Friday night date night, Janelle and I decided to try something we had never done before – we took a painting class!  I’ve never really seen myself as a painter, but Janelle used to paint while growing up, and it turned out to be a completely relaxing experience.

We arrived to class, Starbucks in hand, adorned our smocks and sat facing our blank white canvas.  Thanks to our wonderfully eccentric teacher, however, we had covered the canvas with the warm colors of sunset in no time.  I became so lost in transforming my blank canvas into a personal creation that it felt like we had only been there for a couple of minutes,  but before I knew it 2 1/2 hours had slipped by!

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The former president, George W. Bush, has recently taken up painting as a hobby and has begun to paint portraits of famous world leaders.  When asked why he decided to do this, he said that he was inspired to take up the hobby after reading Winston Churchill’s book, Painting as a Pastime, in which Churchill explains how painting helped him through the challenges of leadership and life.  When I first read this I found it a little odd, but after experiencing a painting class I can now understand the appeal.  Just as Churchill promised, the entire world simply slipped away as the canvas took my complete focus.

My favorite part of the experience was when I made a dramatic mistake, and the teacher quoted Bob Ross –  “There are no mistakes, only happy accidents.”  I realized that with a little creativity, I could take an accident as terrible as a large black slash across the canvas and transform it into something beautiful.  As I sat painting, I imagined that this is what God does as He paints the stories of our lives.  We often make dramatic mistakes, but His expert hand is able to paint over our surrounding circumstances and still have His perfect will come to fruition in our lives.  As I sat painting, I found myself worshipping the Master Artist.

And when the night was done, I walked out with a portrait of a Texas Sunset.  Voila!

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