How To Get Your Art On

April 5, 2013 | 16 comments

I left my inner artist back in the junior high art room, but thanks-be-to-God, I’ve never lost my ability to draw a mean stick figure.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

 See? Utter brilliance, eh? 🙂

But one night this week, we were asking ourselves to stretch a bit more than stick-figuring.

Yeah, us–

A bunch of ladies who don’t know the difference between a goache and a grissaille.

We ladies are these: a professional cook, the head housekeeper of a nursing home, a pharmaceutical-sales delivery person, a special-ed teacher, a retired businesswoman, a bunch of grandmas, and a few farmers’ wives.

You could have heard the collective, intimidated sigh as we sat in front of those blank canvases, taunting us with all that daunting white space. Most of us hadn’t put a brush to a canvas for — what — 10 years? Some of us, for decades.

But this was us, gathering together under one roof, and agreeing stubbornly that we were made to create, because we were made by a Creator.

We came to get our art on. We came to let our inner Monets fly.

“There are no mistakes, only happy little accidents.” That’s what our night’s art teacher told us, quoting the legendary Bob Ross.

And so we set our determined little selves onto those canvases, emboldened only by our teacher’s confidence in us. Because, let’s face it: most of the rest of us felt we had all the artistic talent of a toenail.

But behold, art happened.

My friend, Trish, and I invited about a dozen women from the local community to create for the sake of creating — risk-free, fail-free, critic-free. And those crazy women showed up, right under the white steeple of our Iowa country church.

“Art is for everyone. … No one gets left out.” Those are the words of Matt Appling, in his newly released book, “Life After Art: What You Forgot About Life and Faith Since You Left the Art Room.

Before we put color to canvas, I read a bit from Matt’s book, because we all needed a bit of reassurance from someone who actually knew what he was talking about:


“Picasso was right. Children are all born artists. Artists are not created. They are born. But most child artists have very short life spans. Art teachers work very hard to grow and nurture as many child artists as possible. But we watch most of them simply grow up and disappear. How many artists will be lost this year? Only a few will escape into adulthood with their creativity alive.”
~ Matt Appling


And then, we made some stuff. And our stuff was kinda good. Ish.

(You better agree with us, or we’ll summon that mean stick figure and ask him to come after you. 😉 And we’ll make him strong-arm you into attending our next Creative Night Out.)

You can find Matt’s book, Life After Art, by clicking here.


Matt Appling, Life After Art


YOUR TURN: When’s the last time you felt creative? How are you living “life after art?”

by | April 5, 2013 | 16 comments


  1. beingwovenzephaniah317

    Thank you, Jennifer, for this great post. I have so forgotten what it is like to “create”. I did actually weave and spin in my adulthood and loved it, but physical limitations happened as I grew older and had to sell the spinning wheel. But I always felt so incompetent in painting and drawing so didn’t! Reminding me that God is the Creator and I am His creation who is “allowed” to create puts a smile on my face. What a fun evening you all had! Caring through Christ, ~ linda

  2. Lisa @ four simply living

    I think this is fabulous. Makes me want to read the book and join you ladies. FYI these are all more than good-ish, they are masterpieces to my eye.

  3. Michelle DeRusha

    LOVE this!! Your artwork — all of it — is really good!!

  4. pourcettetemps

    i love that you ladies did this Jennifer. What a fantastic freeing experience. When we had to do some art lessons because we were learning how to teach art it was a very nice and freeing experience to try things we’d never done before. We got to do some sculpture, some paint, some drawing…and it was nice. But the one thing that had us all freaking out…our teacher said it was okay to draw outside the lines…to take our images off the paper. to think about the edge of the paper not being the end of the picture was so bizzare and yet freeing. I am excited to learn more from Matt and i love all those beautiful painting!

  5. Leanne

    This is something I want to do — to teach art and God’s word — but I feel so much like a beginner artist myself that I don’t even know where to start …

  6. Simply Darlene

    Looks like you remembered the key to unleashing your inner child – chocolate.

    I reckon I need to get that book.


  7. Diana Trautwein

    This is just the loveliest thing ever. Thanks so much, Jennifer – for doing it and for documenting it. I love all those smiling faces – and the artwork ain’t bad neither. :>)

  8. Tarissa

    “Creative Night Out” — what a fun idea! Makes me want to get some girls together and paint something. I attended a similar gathering with a group of ladies many years ago, but we were making container gardens. It took a little time for all of us to get past our own self-doubts and tendency to compare ourselves to one another. But, once we did, we had a blast!

    I feel very close to God when I utilize the gifts He’s given me and make something — whether it’s baking, gardening, writing, crocheting, or painting — I feel a real connection with Him during the creative process. Every creation feels like an act of thanksgiving and worship.

    Love ALL your paintings and the smiles on your faces! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Diane W. Bailey

    I love those girl art class times! There is a sisterhood that runs through, even for the ones who know only one person. They leave feeling like they have new best friends!

  10. Sylvia R

    What a fun post! Wish I’d been there! Love it!

  11. Leslie McNeil

    absolutely masterful and beautiful beyond description! love the smiles… love the art!!!

  12. Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

    God has been bringing me back to my art (neglected for the most part all these years of corporate working)… and reading of your fun, seeing your photos really makes me smile!

  13. Jillie

    I’m a few days behind you, Jennifer, but I just had to comment! What a wonderful idea! My sister is the artist in the family, but some of her stuff is just plain weird. What you have here is just plain art! You ladies have talent, even though you may not think so! Love all the barn and grasses depictions. I’m a ‘stick person’ kind of ‘artist’, myself. Once again, you’ve made me laugh out loud!
    My form of ‘art’ is writing, even if it is for my eyes only. And I used to dabble in Calligraphy. People said I was good, but I was just too critical of myself. Still, I enjoy it.
    This was a fun post, Jennifer.

  14. Janis Cox

    What a great post. I finally can say, “I am an artist”. But really it took a long time to be able to say that. I have been studying watercolour on and off for over 15 years. But I would take a course, then not paint. Take another course a year later, and not paint. Finally about 4 years ago I decided that I needed to paint on a regular basis if I were ever going to get better.
    With God’s help I did – and created a storybook and did the artwork. Tadeo Turtle is a miracle.
    I love how you brought this women together and can think of lots of possibilities for women I know.

    This is the 4th time I have heard of Matt Appling’s book so I must order it.




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