A few weeks ago I came across a post from one of my favourite artists. His name is Joel Rea and he is an incredible realistic artist that fills his canvases with images that reveal deep messages of the struggle between people and nature. These images are executed at such a level that at first look you think his paintings are photos.
It's all about hard work
The reason I bring up this artist is because very rarely do you get a behind the scenes look at this masters work. In his post he showed some process pics of his artwork called ‘Pathways’. They included the underdrawing, and then various close ups of the painting with the final pic the complete piece in all its glory.
In the caption below it detailed that the time put into the underdrawing was 100 hours and the painting side was a massive 700 hours to complete. As I read and viewed these photos I realised one thing and that was that there is a lot of work and dedication to achieve this level. To spend nearly 800 hours on painting that takes a skill, passion and perseverance.
It challenged me as an artist myself with the question “would I be willing to commit to the task that much?” and to follow that up was “no wonder I haven’t achieved all I hoped to in my art.” Leaving me with the question “was I willing to do the hard work?”
A Journey to be better...
At the start of this year I stumbled across a 5 day master class from an American Artist that runs a community called Created to Thrive. I had decided that this year I needed to address some of the gaps that were stopping me achieving all that I wanted in my artwork. So I thought this masterclass might be a good start.
One of these 5 days was all about the blockers of an artist. As Matt Tommey, the artist behind Created to Thrive outlined these blockers he spoke about one of the big 5 is lack of skill. What he was saying was not supposed to discourage emerging artists, but actually was a truth that a lot of Christian artists need to hear. I am certainly one of them.
‘filled’ and ‘skilled’
In the teaching Matt highlighted that so many Artists, particularly Christian ones believe that because they are called to art that God will automatically fill in the gaps in the skill department. He highlighted this with a chart that showed on one axis a ‘filled’ level. Then on the other axis was the ‘skilled’ level. He noted that the most optimal place where you reach your potential and the place where God is most going to use you is in the place where your level of skill meets your level of being filled.
‘Filled’ refers to inspiration, imagination and the God breathed storehouse house of his creativity flowing through you untapped and waiting to be released. This is not limited to visions for a painter but also could be songs for singers, ideas for an entrepreneur or strategies for a builder. I have always said that we are all creative and we all are filled with God's creative potential. It's just up to us to engage it and give it the opportunity to be released.
‘Skilled’ is more in line with an artist like Joel Rea who has done the hours, the practice and learning about his craft. To become skilled is usually where time is required, commitment is key and perseverance is needed as you will fail until you reach that point of skill you desire to reach.
So if we are to plot ourselves on that chart we might find ourselves in a place where we are filled, but not skilled or maybe we are skilled and not filled. We really need both to find that sweet spot and the place of a greatest potential.
If you are just high on the chart of being filled without the skill, you often become the frustrated artist that can’t seem to execute to the level you want to. The result of this is that you tend to give up and not try after time and time again you just do get your creative endeavour to the place you envisioned it to reach.
If you are high on the chart of skill, but don’t have the filled factor you soon will become uninspired by your art. The result is usually boredom, lack of inspiration and eventually the time you once put into your art will fall away.
So the goal of the artist within you is to be both filled and skilled in our areas of creativity. Anything short of this just robs us of the potential within us and also robs the world of the level of creativity that you can bring into the world. This is God’s gift that lives in you. He is just waiting for you to partner with Him in the process of becoming His artist.
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8
Justin Monaghan (Adelaide) is married to his beautiful wife and together they pursue being his Kingdom agents through their intentional Jesus community house in Glenelg. Justin is also a prophetic artist under the label JR Faith Creations as well is pursuing a career in the entertainment industry with his new studies in VFX and digital illustration at university. He is a lover of surfing and anything adventurous.