Malakai and his paints sprawl across the table like a bit of the sky run all down.
These thousand colors in rain.
That’s the way Malakai paints, dabbing in the underbelly of the darks, lining the greys with white light. He pulls this rainbow of colors back tight and he shoots for stars, right there on canvas.
Even his hands boldly wear it, shades of the sky.
I don’t know how he knows it already — to make art out of messy storms.
I’ve got out the cutting board and have these squash split in half in the kitchen when he dangles off the edge of the sink, washing out a brush.
“I never done this before — I mean, painted with oil like this — but it’s working out alright.” He grins over at me, spraying water everywhere, his own bow in a stainless sink.
“It doesn’t really matter that my clouds don’t look like Mr. Ross‘s — I still like them.” He’s got blue right under his fingernails and this crazy glint in his eyes.
This must be how all the brave become artists: Quit trying to fit. Why try to squeeze all your extraordinary into ordinary? He’s squeezed blue paint everywhere.
“You know how you do it, don’t you, Mom?” He’s got his feet on the floor now, waving the brush at me, like he’s trying to direct an orchestra … like he’s trying to direct me.
“You take a blank canvas and you start brushing across all the colors.” He’s moving his arms all big, a flying, and I’m smiling. Creating in the face of fear, it’s like that, a bit like flying right into freedom.
Malakai flings out his brush.
“Gonna paint another canvas right now.” He’s so slight and so bold and and I nod in the kitchen before the halved squash because it is about the making. God made woman to be a maker, to open her empty places and let life be knit from within her.
Creativity, it’s good theology; it’s what God did in the beginning.
The essence of creativity is essentially risk, believing enough to leap into the yet unseen. The theological terms for this is faith.
Malakai’s at the table showing Shalom how to press out a tube of oiled royal blue.
She’s got her face right down to the canvas, face right in the wonder of all that color coming out.
“Give me a brush, Kai.” She says it with her authoritative voice but she’s never even oil painted before either. She doesn’t care. She’s pushing up her sleeves, all ready to bare a part of her one wild creative mind.
“It’s my turn to try.” When we stop fearing failure, we start being artists. How does she do that?
It’s right there in her eyes, if I read all the light in them: Don’t let the sun set till you’ve done one thing that sort of scares you.
The only trees that ever grow tall keep relentlessly stretching into unknown territory. She’s all limbs reaching up. When did I forget how to be a child?
Art, it’s the second person present indicative of the verb to be. Art is a way of being and when you make your life art — thou art.
We have to get the paints out more. We have to make more messes.We have to more be. When did I stop forgetting to be?
I tell Shalom to go put a paint apron on first and she leaps unafraid off her chair and heads for her smock and and really, what else can God’s children wear but the habit of creativity? Malakai shows her how to paint the sky and the earth and the trees and she makes strokes on her white blankness.
He sticks his tongue out to the side when he concentrates hard.
She keeps dabbing her brush into the brown. They both have their heads bowed over the canvas, bowed like they’re burying something.
There is that: You either bury your fear in faith. Otherwise you bury your talents.
Shalom, she brushes her brown with more shades.
And there’s this rainbow, perfect right there across her dabbled dirt.
1. Quit trying to fit. Why try to squeeze all your extraordinary into ordinary?
2. God made woman to be a maker, to open her empty places and let life be knit from within her.
3. Creativity, it’s good theology; it’s what God did in the beginning.
4. When we stop fearing failure, we start being artists.
5. Don’t let the sun set till you’ve done one thing that sort of scares you. The only trees that ever grow tall keep relentlessly stretching into unknown territory.
6. Art, it’s the second person present indicative of the verb to be. Art is a way of being and when you make your life art — thou art.
7. You have to bury your fear in faith. Otherwise you bury your talents.