And the Good News is…We’re All Cartoons!
I haven’t blogged in a long time, and that’s one of my mistakes. There have been plenty of reasons why, but no excuses. It’s a big mistake bloggers shouldn’t make. It has made me feel like a failure. Have you ever been in that situation? Where there are mistakes you’ve made in your personal or professional life that have colored your outlook on yourself? You can’t undo them, so you think of yourself as a failure no matter what your successes have been?
Bear with me a moment and go back to my blog of April, 2017, entitled “In the Beginning…Cartoons??” In that blog, I put forth my technique for transferring a pattern for a future painting onto my art paper. I explained how I created a pattern first, blew it up on a grid, and then transferred it to my final paper as mistake-free and permanently as I could. This helps avoid many unforeseen slip-ups. Back in the day, as in Renaissance days, the system of enlarging via a grid system was called “cartooning.” It was practiced by many of the great artists of that day who were painting much larger-than-life works and didn’t have a handy-dandy desktop projector. Well, I didn’t either, so I cartooned my patterns. I still do.
By the time I’m through with my patterns, they are a mess! Crisscrossed with horizontal and vertical grid lines, all kinds of numbers from the grid, pencil smudges, roughed in, sloppy looking shading scribbles, notes I’ve made to watch out for this or that, erasure marks; they often look as confusing as some sort of visual riddle. Anyone else looking at them would see a disaster. Sometimes, even I have a hard time deciphering them. But somewhere hiding in there are good patterns waiting to be transferred.
Once a pattern is applied to the final art paper, it’s just stark, flat outlines resembling the pages of a new coloring book. Boring. But what happens next is ah-mazing! Color! Little by little as I apply the color, a painting comes to life. I follow my lines for the composition and shading I had planned out on the pattern. Through color and shading or highlighting, the 3-D effects of great distances or close-up details of various objects take shape. Color sets the stage, creates a mood, and transforms a mess into a masterpiece. It was all done by previous design.
I think we, as humans are the same way. We’re just patterns, cartoons. No, not funny stuff to poke fun at, but imperfect patterns from which God crafts His masterpieces. He makes the patterns He’s had in mind for us all along. We mess it up with mistakes, smudges, confusion, trying to erase what we can’t undo. Eventually, throughout our lives, He transfers us to clean paper and applies the color that will glorify Him through us. Oh yeah, we’ve failed in so many ways, but we are not failures when He is in control of the color. We are masterpieces, and we must get out of that mindset of defining ourselves by our past failures, when in reality we are turning into beautiful finished products.
I wish I could claim this thought as an original of mine, but I can’t. My Man Jim was having breakfast with a new friend this morning. He told me afterwards that his friend, Randy, had asked him about my art and how I did it. Jim was showing him my website and explaining the age-old “cartooning” technique as part of my creating process when Randy, in a flash of inspiration, exclaimed that we’re all like cartoons, destined to be something beautiful, but seeing and believing our messy patterns of failures instead. I say kudos and many heartfelt thanks to Randy for his insight, which provided the thought material for this blog, something I very much needed to be jumpstarted back into doing!