Bookmark and Share

Lines in the sand become squiggly

Have you ever said, “I will never do that”? Then you find yourself doing it.

What happened? Did you change your mind or did something change you?

Recently a gentleman in a small group we attended said, “When I was young I made a commitment and I wrote definite lines in the sand, then a wayward child came along and the lines in the sand became squiggly.”

I reached over and I quietly said to him, “I understand exactly what you are saying, the lines we have drawn in the sand have gotten squiggly too.”

This thought challenged me. How could I have been so dogmatic about life with such firm rules; and today the lines have gotten so blurry. Maybe it was life lessons that came our way and changed us.

It reminds me of a watercolor workshop I took a few years ago. The teacher said, “I want you to paint in flux. Find a spot and sit still and start painting. I’ll come by and check on you from time to time. Have at least six sheets of paper.”

The place was called Cathedral Forest. The trees were so thick they literally arched over each other. There were just bits of light showing through and the light changed quickly through the trees.

I chose a beautiful spot next to a small creek; the trees arched, partly in shade and partly exposed to the sun. I found a rock to sit on, pulled out my paper and committed to the instructions of the teacher. I started to paint, each painting I painted changed from rigid to fluid; each one showed a certain confidence and the subject became clearer, freer, and yet with fewer lines.

In the course of the afternoon, a rain shower came; I covered my supplies and continued to work. The soft spray of water hit the paper as I painted, making the paints fuse together, taking on a whole different look.

I committed to the spot I chose and did not change my position, but one by one, each painting recorded the moment I was in. As I lined them up later I could see what the art teacher was asking us to do, “paint in flux”.

So I went to the dictionary to see exactly what flux meant. Webster puts it this way: Flux is an act of flowing, and flow of matter, flow of the tide, anything used to promote fusion.

My most favorite of all the six paintings on the same subject is definitely the last one I painted. There was little paint, lot of white paper, quickly executed colorful trees, and a dramatic zigzag for the creek.

Later, the first five paintings were changed from watercolor to mix media. I added acrylic paints and then oils. But that last one is framed and will remain the way I painted it originally as a reminder of the afternoon when I learned about painting in flux.

Back to life, what happened to the lines we so intently drew in the sands of conviction? Did we become diluted, did we compromise, and was it all to move with the ebb and flow of life? Maybe it was all about learning to get along?

The tide has and will continue to come in and erase the harsh lines we have drawn in the sand. Each time the lines became softer and squigglier. It is just like each watercolor I painted, the strokes were fewer. And soon the lines and exactness were not so necessary and the only thing that was important to me was the subject before me.

The commitment written on my heart years ago goes much deeper than the religious lines I drew in the sand in my younger days. Hopefully love is finally working itself into me, and the harsh lines of prejudice, religious notions, success, ambition, and how I thought things should be are being erased.

I’ve not changed my position towards the commitment I made years ago. It is just as I sat by the creek with a small continual stream of water passing between the banks, and the lights and darks changed in the course of the afternoon. I didn’t move. Even the showers came and fused colors together and I continued to paint. The subject was constant before my eyes, it is the same as today, life is changing how I look at things. I have been living in flux just as I painted that afternoon.

Final brushstroke: The ebb and flow of life erases the lines drawn in the sand and even our footprints will vanish in time, but the commitment we made in our hearts will remain. Our lives are being established and written as we live in flux.

Reader’s comments

Write your comments. E-mail bettyslade@centurytel.net. Also check out http://bettyslade.blogspot.com for past articles and http://bettysladeartist.blogspot.com to see my paintings and a daily mini-art lesson.

Artist’s quote: “If we fix a goal and work towards it, then we are never just passing time.” — Ann Neagle, actress.