February 28, 2007

A sore throat

This week, I've been suffering a sore throat, a hacking cough, and a small bout of discouragement. I've been taking dayquil for the cold, but the discouragement may need more of a perspective checkup...

I was super-encouraged by the first few weeks of these new classes, finding rapid growth as new ideas and techniques enable me to jump into some potential that had been lying dormant. But now it may be starting to plateau a bit, and the reality of long years of disciplined practice becomes more apparent. This is simply the reality of drawing, or building any skill, so it shouldn't be a deterrent. You start with some level of gift or talent, but then you must invest it and grow it through the hard work of cultivation. When I see an amazing artist like James Jean or Glen Keane, it doesn't mean "they have it and I don't," but just that they've taken what they had and have already made progress on the long road of development. I find myself standing at the beginning of that road, and the only way towards progress is one measured step after another. The daunting thing is that as I learn more, and struggle at each new stage, my depth of appreciation and ability to recognize excellence is growing. So the more I come to understand what makes Glen Keane so amazing, for example, the longer "the road" becomes. As a follower of Christ, this should be a familiar dilemma for me, though in that case, the road is infinite! What makes endurance possible is grace, knowing that God accepts me where I am, and is himself at work to bring me along to where he'd like me to be.

Perhaps along with the cough syrup, a dose of grace will help on this artistic journey as well. However long the journey takes, the only way I'll survive is by appreciating each step for what it is, and realizing that as an artist, I'll always have a spot on God's refrigerator, not because I'm really really good, but because I'm his child.

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