Look At Jesus
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
– Ephesians 5:1-2
In the years that I have been creating art, there is a phrase I often hear people who would not call themselves artist say when looking at art.
I could never draw something like that.
Draw, paint, sculpt, whatever it may be, I always find it interesting when someone comes to that conclusion when viewing other people’s work. I understand why they often feel this way, thinking that a form of creative craftsmanship is unobtainable, however my response to them is always the same.
You see, drawing is a skill. It’s just like playing an instrument. You hold the instrument like so, you place your hands here and there, you do this and that, and it creates a sound. Then you practice, learn, and improve the techniques and develop the skill to play that instrument. The same is with creating visual art. You hold the pencil, you move it across the paper, and you get a mark. Then you practice.
Most would say that they know that, but it’s getting all those small pencil marks to combine and create something bigger. That is the challenge. But that ability does not come from raw, born with it, talent. Sure, some are born with more natural abilities than others in a variety of skills, some learn faster, but that does not mean these skills are unobtainable. It just takes time, and when it comes to art it is the time to learn how to look at things.
Training your eye to truly look at something is the foundational lesson for an artist. You must see something clearly and correctly to then recreate its contours, its shape, its perspectives, and even anticipate how light will interact with it. This is all learned by looking. But not just looking as a casual observation. It is a study. It is looking at a flower and going past the initial admiration of it’s beauty to discovering how at the end of the petal there is a slight wave and curve upward to a point. It is seeing how the veins form a texture within its leaves. It is noting the soft shadows and highlights that give each part its form. I have told people in the past that it is going beyond just thinking something is beautiful, to finding out why you think it is beautiful. When you know that, you can imitate its beauty in your drawing.
All these things are fresh on my mind lately as my son has begun to take a greater interest in drawing, and it has been my continual lesson to him. Learn to look. It has got me thinking that this is much like the Christian life. We are called to be imitators of Christ. To love each other as he loved. To walk as he walked.
By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. – 1 John 2:5-6
It goes without saying, however, to make the point clear I will say it, you cannot imitate what you do not know. If we are called to walk as he walked and be imitators of him, then we must look at Christ. However it cannot be a causal admiration as someone who appreciates a beautiful sunrise. Instead it must be as someone who must study the merger of orange and blue tones so as to mix paints, and someone who takes note of the clouds with their textures in order to use the correct brush and pressure with their strokes on the canvas.
We must not simply admire and appreciate Jesus. We must not stop at only thinking he is beautiful. We must learn why he is.
And with that, as it has proven true so many times for myself, we find the things we study even more alluring and fully captivating. So look at him, study him, pursue him, and you will find the contours of your life beginning to match his.
Sunday Reflections are short articles that share thoughts from weekly Bible reading, devotions, sermons, or times of worship. Find more of them here.