Monday, May 4, 2009


I've always been moved by the incredible talents of artists such as Michelangelo, Monet, Van Gogh & Renoir. Their masterful use of simple tools put to canvas in such a way as to leave a masterpiece for generations to enjoy and admire has been an inspiration to me to create my own masterpiece. But, what that masterpiece will be, and how it will evolve is a lifetime in the making.

I have heard it said many times, that our life is our truest masterpiece & what we do with our life is our greatest gift to God.

Michelangelo believed that every stone had a sculpture within it, and that the work of sculpting was simply a matter of chipping away all that was not a part of the statue. Aren't our lives, our masterpiece, much like that? Each of us is a masterpiece, waiting to be revealed. We must simply chip away the parts of us that do not glorify God & allow Him to mold us.

As part of my undergrad studies at the Y, I was required to take an elementary art appreciation class. It saddened me to learn about many of these artists who had extraordinary talents, but often the saddest of lives. As I've reflected on many of their life histories, I recall that Van Gogh cut off his left ear after a falling out with a friend, resulting in a continued lifetime of mental illness & his eventual suicide. Monet, a brilliant artist, also attempted suicide after facing terrible financial crisis. Michaelangelo, was a rough man, who alienated people because of his personality and general unhappiness. I could go on and on. But there was one story that was different.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, a leading Impressionist, also faced incredible challenges in his life. What made him different than some of the other famous artists is the way he chose to respond to these challenges. In his later years, Renoir developed rheumatoid arthritis. For an artist, this could have been devastating & career-stopping, but Renoir continued to paint his masterpieces even when arthritis severely limited his movement, and he was wheelchair-bound. He developed progressive deformities in his hands and ankylosis of his right shoulder, requiring him to adapt his painting technique. It has often been reported that in the advanced stages of his arthritis, he painted by having a brush strapped to his paralyzed fingers. What impressed me the most by his story, was his desire to press on & continue his masterpieces, despite the formiddable challenges he faced. Perhaps, this will and determination is one of the biggest and best gifts he has left for the world to enjoy.

Recently, I have been equally moved by close friends and family members who have responded to the challenges and adversity splattered on their delicate canvases with an extraordinary amount of faith and perserverence. They have reminded all that know them by their determination and actions that it is still possible to find joy, beauty & light in the midst of darkness. I continue to draw inspiration from them (you know who you are), as I continue to paint & repaint my life's canvas.


Chris and Mari Spiker said...

that is so beautiful. whoever those people are, they sound incredible! what an amazing post! See!! Your writing is amazing, you should write a book :)