During my last semester at Smith I took Offset Monoprinting. It was amazing!!!
I noticed some new qualities in myself. Though I’ve never considered myself an “artist” I placed a huge part of my identity into my art and needed it to fit my “vision” perfectly.
Here is the basic concept of printmaking:
- You create a template
- Buy and prepare your paper
- Create some kind of design
- Make your own colors through mixing pigments
- Prepare the press
- Make sure the blanket (where the template will transfer) is clean
- Align the paper perfectly onto the press
- Print and see what happens
So I would get really into making sure my design and colors were just right. I would spend hours upon hours in the printing press. I’d come home late, with paint all over my clothes, and feel just utterly defeated. Each line had to be exact. Each color placed correctly on the template. I wanted my art to be excellent. Somehow I felt like my art was an extension of myself, and I didn’t want to be misunderstood.
It’s funny, because at Smith I sort of prided myself in not being “type A.” I learned early on that I was not going to break the curves at Smith. I quickly came to the end of myself and learned to study hard, but also let go. But for some reason, in printmaking I didn’t let go as easily (and to be clear, it was not easy the first time).
So the process taught me through this struggle. I needed my prints to be perfect, but I only had so much control in the process. They weren’t going to be exactly how I envisioned because there is no telling how the template will transfer to the blanket, and how the blanket will transfer to the paper. So I had to let go. I had to accept my prints the way they turned out. And it was so freeing to do so.
I learned a lot about pursuing excellence for the Kingdom though this, to remember that in whatever I do, “do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men (Colossians 3:23).” As a Christian, I believe I am called to excellence. I am happy that I invested real time and energy into my prints. But my work, my pursuit of excellence must be onto the Lord, or else I’ll continue to walk home from the art studio defeated. My art, my life, should not be about me, and when it is, I am so miserable.
This past year, I’ve been thinking about transformation too, and Bill Johnson in The Power that Changes the World agrees that “Everything we do is to be as unto the Lord, and done with all our might. This gives us the brilliant opportunity to worship God with our work (pg 70).” Johnson goes on to discuss Matthew 5:13-14:
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
He explains that Jesus is using the parable to make the point that salt must bring out a flavor (pg 113). I agree, as Christians, we should leave a flavor that points people to God. A flavor that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4: 8).