The Imposter Artist

God, you have been good to me. You have rescued me from many dangers, and used me as Your vessel.

But now, I’m tired.

My spirit is still willing, but my flesh is so weak. Can I burn this brightly without burning out?

As I shine out into the darkness, will I not attract the attention of my enemies too?

Can You really endow me with that supernatural kind of intensity and endurance, as well as protection?

Already, I feel under attack.

The enemy is afraid of this powerful light which lives inside me.

Even as God shows his sufficiency and power through me time and time again, seeds of doubt and deficiency are scattered through my mind.

Satan now seeks to turn my gifts against me.

(Why are you still here? I have no reason to fear you. Don’t you know you’ve already lost this war?)

While he previously tried to invade my mind, so that his thoughts became difficult to distinguish from my own, the more conscious I became of them, the more I was able to eventually cast them out.

He attacked the simplest of my needs, from eating to sleeping, and robbed me of my will to live. Each hour that passed was filled with pain, as I continued clinging to life/God.

He surrounded my days with fear, anxiety, and a desolate depression. When I was disappointed that my life had come to this, he tried to rid me of my sense of purpose.

Bringing these lies to the light will cause them to flee.

(Do you see what’s happening? The greater the aggression in your advances, the greater your defeat will be. Back off, now. You shall not be the focus of my heart.)

Specifically, Satan has been trying to steal the inherent joy I feel when making art.

Earlier this year, I heeded God’s radical call to change the course of my current studies, and to start fresh with architecture.

That was a surface level change. But internally, I also began to accept the gifts of creativity and artistry as part of my identity. I put my trust in the plans that God had in store, because my own vision for myself could not, and could never, compare to His unsearchable ways.

This now marks the end of my first week in an intensive summer drawing course.

We sit in the studio from 9 to 4, with an hour and a half at noon for lunch — three days a week. We’re expected to draw every day outside of class, too.

The other students in my class are no joke. Without even realizing it, I find myself judging my skill, criticizing my own work, and questioning my validity in simply being here.

This is what art often is — competition and validation — but it’s not what it’s meant to be.

Growing up, art was very intuitive for me. If I had some idea in my mind, I could more or less reproduce it on paper.

When I thought I was doing my own thing, my classmates would often look over my shoulder, and tell me how “good” it was.

(Looking back of course, I see the scrawl and skill level of a child.)

From that common occurrence, I began to develop a degree of pride.

I was proud that I could render shadows and depth — an advancement that made me feel special. Sometimes it was possible to forget that I still had long ways to go.

Likewise, I knew I was close to nothing in the music world, but because I was concertmaster of three different orchestras, less advanced musicians still looked up to me.

It wasn’t long before my parents enrolled me in a weekend art class.

There, my teacher had us copy her, step by step, to make some kind of image. One week it was a fire dragon, sometimes it was seafood, or a nice sunset landscape.

When I looked around the classroom then, everyone was drawing the same thing. Some renderings looked “better” than others. Mine tended to be messy and nervous. It was easy to leave class feeling dissatisfied, and feeling trapped by comparison.

I had another teacher who had us draw from observation. We drew a lot of wooden mannequins and still life. I remember distinctly being told to draw my own foot, and taking off my shoe to put it on the desk. I also remember each of us being handed an egg to draw, and being surprised at how difficult was the task of drawing that egg.

During that period of development, I learned how to see better, but my creative spirit really came to a standstill. The only things I could bring myself to draw on my own time were realistic observational drawings and idealized 3D geometric shapes, which utilized my obsessive compulsiveness.

I always felt that if I made something that looked good, I was faking it — doing just barely enough for it to pass, and creating the illusion of completeness.

The last art class I took for a while was at school in ninth grade, where I did a huge documented study in “urban environments.” In that class, when I felt I was putting out my best work, I never felt acknowledged for that, and was instead pushed to do better.

I felt relieved to be done with my artistic career.

After that, I dabbled in photography, sketching, and some painting on my own, and I gladly did it without pressure, but the study of things like science, music, philosophy, and literature became my primary pursuit.

I never felt truly visually creative again, not until the end of 2017.

For the first time in my life, I picked up my pen, without an expectation or idea for what the end result would be like.

And it was pretty ugly, at first. Conglomerates of shapes, lines, and curves.

Gradually, ideas began to emerge. This was a completely different part of my imagination, one which had been lying latent all this time.

And it flowed. A downstream release.

I began drawing again, until my reborn gift became undeniable. Within months, I felt these seeds begin to sprout and bloom. Who knew, of all the paths I could have taken in life, that I would ever end up here?

Certainly, I did not see it coming.

Now, I am sharpening my discipline and my calling, starting with this summer class.

I must be fair and compassionate with myself. I have not taken a studio class like this in years and years. And admittedly, it’s intense. When we line up our work on the wall, and critique each other, I must remember that my sheet of paper is no direct representation or reflection of my worth and potential.

(Could you ever capture the brightness and warmth of the sun with a photograph?)

I have made it here for a reason. Everything added to this point is a bonus and a blessing. To struggle now with the new things I am learning is no bad thing.

When — out of frustration and embarrassment — I began crying in class, I realized I did not want to let Satan steal my joy, and twist the very thing that has been bringing me life.

I will not doubt the lengths God has undertaken, in order to lead me here.

“The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Psalm 23; NKJV

He has not left me, and He will not leave me here, dry and wanting. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me, all the days of my life!


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