What is Your Expressive Outlet?

Artistic expression is as old as the hills. Every culture has it's folk stories and traditional music, and most food has some sort of a history. I make crepes for the family every Christmas, a tradition my grandpa started before I was born with a recipe he learned from his Norwegian neighbors when he was five. To me, swirling those flatcakes is a sacred practice. Artistic expression exists because we bear the image of God. As J.R.R. Tolkien of Lord of the Rings fame put it, we are sub-creators; we create our own imaginative worlds  as we live in a world created by another.

The beauty of expression is that it exists under any circumstance, financial, political, or otherwise. Traditional blues' call and response style bears witness, drawing from a time when slaves worked the field, crying a song to God for freedom. They saw themselves a type of Israel captive in Egypt. Their expression was one of sorrow and hope, a realization that this world was not home.

A couple of years ago, as I was simultaniously listening to Pandora, reading a book (one of three that I had only half finished), just before watching a wonderful little documentary about Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White, I realized that my place in the creative universe as entirely consumeristic. I was eating up the expression of others, trying to make it fit my own experience, and like eating lobster number 30 (an experience I would like at some point in my life) it all started losing its taste.

Consuming art isn't a bad thing, in fact sometimes we need others to articulate what we can't quite put a finger on ourself. We need people to come alongside us and say, "me too." But when we leave all the expression to others we miss out on a part of who we ourselves were created to be. And, I think, we are depriving the world of something God intended it to have. We are an expression of God made to express what He has placed in us.

Now I'm not saying everyone needs to start writing music, or painting things only Picasso could love. I write, play, and sing, but I resonate with the words of Seamus Heaney who was himself a writer, but saw his writing as a different sort of the same thing his father and grandfather did as farmers.

My grandfather could cut more turf in a day Than any other man on Toner's bog.


But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Debbie painting

Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests. I'll dig with it.

My father is a farmer and takes pride in it. My friend John remodels homes for a living, and you should see his face light up when he talks about countertops and trim selection. His sub-contracting is sub-creating; my fathers digging his art, and they love being who they were made to be.

What is your expressive outlet?



*A Note From Debbie (See the above painting): 

In Seamus Heaney’s words, But I’ve no spade to follow men like them. Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests. I’ll dig with it.

Whether a pen or a spade, we are to use what we have to express what God has placed within us. No tool or medium is better than another. I chose to use complimentary coloring as part of this piece because no matter how different the tools, they work together beautifully as part of the overall picture.  I have a paintbrush. I’ll dig with that.

Debbie's painting and pottery can be found and purchased on etsy.