This past summer I sent a lot of thank-you notes for people who supported the ministry I work for called InterVarsity. The motto for our arts ministry is “Connecting Art, Life, and Faith”. This is good advice for many reasons. One being that if you are busy with your life you will not have time for art unless your art is already part of your life. So in an effort to connect art and life, I started putting illustrations in my thank you notes.
This ended up being a good solution. Many people who donated were people I had only recently met, or recently rekindled a relationship with. Since so much of my capacity to make connections with people comes from interactions over a long period of time I found at was often at a loss for words when writing thank you notes even though I had a sincere gratitude I wanted to express. Putting little drawings into my notes allowed me to express my thanks without feeling like I was writing fluffy pointless words.
This kind of thought process seems healthier than many ways I’ve allowed myself to approach art making before. It was an action to use my art in a positive way deeply attached to my real life. It filled a simple need of expression which is one of the greatest powers of art.
In this process I accomplished a small victory in my efforts to slow down. At one point I made a thank-you note for a couple who had made a considerable donation to the ministry while I was in a hurry. My stressed distracted hand made the little fox you see on the left below. It’s okay. But I didn’t like it, it didn’t make me happy. And maybe most importantly I realized it wasn’t my sincere expression of gratitude for the gift the donors had given to the ministry. So I decided to slow down and make another. (I even made this decision while I was on the way to the post office to mail it. The temptation to just mail it and be done was very great!) The final result was the image on the right. something I was pleased to give as a small gift.
When my intention was to create an image of gratitude because I knew it was required of me my drawing was clearly unidimensional. The process of taking time to draw the second fox meant that the sincerity both was discovered and expressed in the drawing.