I grew up playing in my father’s studio. Holding the brush together, dipping it in water and paint and watching it disperse color across a pristine sheet of textured paper, he babysat me through my first few paintings. Later, as I developed more confidence with the medium, he was very trusting and generous with his supplies, allowing me to sit at his desk, on his stool, and use his own brushes and paints. Studying and imitating his gorgeous paintings, experimenting with his tools, I learned a love of watercolor that has lasted throughout my life, and I always hoped someday I’d grow up to be an artist like him.
There in his home, I developed my gift, worked extremely hard in school, and eventually set off on my own. The big test came when, as a young bride, I moved to Los Angeles, determined to prove my worth both in our fledgling family and as an artist. I was away for nearly twenty years...nearly equal to a lifetime at that point.
Then I remember one summer when I returned home for a visit. My dad invited me to his new studio...a larger, more accommodating one, the entire top floor of an old pioneer house. He showed me some oil paintings he was working on, and invited my opinion. I was a little surprised. I was always the one who had learned from HIM. And now he wanted my input. Wow.
I suggested a warm glaze over one of the landscapes, an English countryside. He handed me a brush. “Go for it,” he said. “Really? You trust me to work on your painting?” I asked incredulously. He nudged me toward the canvas and I dipped the brush into the thin glaze, adding just a trace of alizarin. Then gingerly I touched the canvas and carefully glazed a section of the surface. He approved, even became excited as he saw the results, and dipped in his brush as well. There we stood, side by side, collaborating, painting...creating. And in a way I lack the words to describe...synergy?...transcendence?...I suddenly felt a whole new kind of alive.
It’s an image I’ll never forget, working side-by-side with my Artist-Dad. That whole experience rings not only true, but significant: First being with him, being taught at his feet, then leaving for what seemed like a lifetime to go out on my own, prove myself. Then finally returning as a professional, a colleague, and a collaborator. I suddenly understood with greater depth why God calls himself Creator, and why he wants to share that incredible gift with His children.
The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.*
Thank you, Dad, for giving me the opportunity to create with you.
*Pres. Dieter Uchtdorf, "Happiness, Your Heritage" 2008.