Our kitchen table spills over with color. Crayons, paints, brushes, pencils and scraps of ideas splash and spark. Creation is messy … but it’s so many other things too. Creation is joyous, intense, driven, constant – and divine.
The scriptures teach us that God created this world and He created us. He is the ultimate Creative. And if the supreme Creative created us, then creativity is within us as well. Yes, creativity is divinely intrinsic.
“Our Heavenly Father is a profoundly creative Being, and He has made us to be that way too,” said Claudine Bigelow, a Professor of Viola at Brigham Young University.
My three little ones, my mother and I recently visited the Portland Museum of Art to see an exhibit called, “Gods and Heroes.” The collection captured our attention for hours, as we gleamed from 140 masterpieces – all from the prestigious art school, Ècole des Beaux-Arts, in Paris.
I adored watching my little ones discover messages within the masterpieces. They soaked it all in. My mom and I read the pieces’ descriptions aloud and then we all gazed and gawked, listening with our eyes … letting the art speak.
And I heard a theme – not necessarily in the artwork, but in the creative process that went into the artwork: Each masterpiece contained two vital things: skill and purpose. Artists at the Ècole des Beaux-Arts (which still exists today, after more than 350 years) were the crème de la crème – serious artists, seriously trained. These students’ skills were honed under the masters of their time. Just imagine being a student of Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Raphael or Jacques-Louis David! Also, the majority of masterpieces commissioned during this time period were for specific purposes. Many artists not only knew what their piece should be about, but they knew exactly where their art would be displayed prior to creating it; so dimensions and angles were planned perfectly proportionate.
As divinely intrinsic creators, those two vital creation characteristics are also vital to us … yes, even skill and purpose.
Skill: Just as the ambitious art students at Ècole des Beaux-Arts, we must train under masters to develop the most masterful skills. It makes me stop and consider the living legends I look up to – who are my mentors? Who could be my mentors? And am I allowing my Heavenly Father, the Master, to creatively mold me and my life into the masterpiece He foresees?
Purpose: We have a specific eternal purpose. As we go through life with that purposeful perspective, we will be more likely to create the unique masterpiece God has in mind. For our Heavenly Father truly has individual masterpieces in mind – distinct and deepening for each of His children.
Of course, that doesn’t mean our life will be picture perfect! In the exhibit, there was a particular artist who painted several self-portraits; and he changed his persona in the different artworks. (How I wish I had written down his name!) We stood and stared at the portrait of himself as a musician; and my mom pointed out how the artist had cut a rectangular section of canvas in the upper right corner of his masterpiece and inserted a new one. He must not have liked what he had originally created, so he worked in some handy patchwork. I didn’t notice the alteration at first, as it blended in quite smoothly, but once identified, I felt so inspired by that artist! When his masterpiece didn’t go well, he didn’t scrap the painting out of frustration; he adapted, adjusted, recreated – he tried again. The result was gorgeous – even worldwide museum worthy!
As patched up as our life’s masterpiece may be, we can rest assured that we are His masterpiece. Yes, we are simultaneously artists creating and His art created …
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus …” (Ephesians 2:10).
He creates us, and gives us the creative ability and agency to create on our own.
“God gives to man the challenge of raw materials, not the ease of finished things. He leaves the pictures unpainted and the music unsung and the problems unsolved, that man might know the joys and glories of creation,” said Thomas S. Monson.
This creative process and creative potential is mind blowing and soul electrifying … it’s a beautiful thing. And yes, like art, it’s also messy … and joyous, intense, driven, constant and divine.
So, my prayer is to create as guided by Him, and to welcome His creativity within.