Raw Materials

The other day, I found myself mesmerized by a video about how oil paint is made. The big vats of churning raw color stirred something deep inside of me and I could not look away.

Actually, I watched it twice. Art supply stores, craft stores, and home improvement stores all have the same effect on me. While some people may be overwhelmed by the idea of the work that can come from a visit to these establishments, I am overwhelmed by the potential that is held in the aisles of these stores.

Whether it’s tubes of paint, aisles of beads, or stacks of lumber, the potential that all of that stuff holds stirs me up inside. All of these materials are only limited by their physical restraints and the imagination and skill of the person who uses them.

When my kids were born, I felt a great sense of joy and a great sense of responsibility. Guiding the potential of another human being is no small task. Knowing how to encourage their potential, nurture it, direct it, and ultimately help them reach it is not something I felt equipped to do. Thankfully, I learned early on that my kids were not really mine. God entrusted them to me. They were and are His.

My greatest hope when they went to school was that they would get a few teachers along the way who could see their potential. It is easy to get caught up in the behavior of the kid right in front of you and miss seeing where that kid is going in the future. I am so thankful that God sees through my disobedient and defiant behavior and sees the potential that He created in me.

Similarly for me, as an artist, it’s easy to get caught up in what I am making at the moment and lose sight of the artist, and person, that I am becoming. It is easy to revel in my accomplishments or wallow in my failures. I am thankful that while God is present with me in my journey through peaks and valleys, His eyes are focused on my destination. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, He sees me now as that person I will be in eternity,

When I was an art student in college, part of the process of learning was the critique. This is a time when your artwork is viewed critically either in a one-on-one session with your professor, or more often by your peers in a group setting. The artist usually has to defend or explain why they have made what they made. Sometimes you have communicated your ideas well with your artwork and sometimes you haven’t. My favorite thing to hear in a critique was “keep going with this idea…develop it…you have got something here.” Potential! I was being told I had potential.

Potential is a lot like hope. Hope is an idea that is all over the Bible. Hope is what believers for thousands of years have hung onto when times were dark.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,

plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.

-Jeremiah 29:11

Many artists prefer oil paints to acrylic paints because they are richer in hue, slower to dry, and dry truer to color. However, oil paints are also a little more complicated to use and clean up since they are not water-based like acrylic paint. I think most people are often like oil paint when you get to know them- more complicated and rich in color.

Potential. I see it in paint. I see it in people. God sees it in me and He sees it in you, too.

-Jennifer Chetelat