I am passionate about many things. Reading, nature, cooking, people, cultures...and art! I love it! I remember walking in on my first day of kindergarten in El Salvador and being super excited to play with the play dough! I had never seen it before and it smelled amazing...tasted a little salty, but that's not the point. Sculpting was never my forte. I did learn to love colored pencils though! When I grew up a little bit, my parents made an effort to buy me paper, brushes, easels, charcoal, kneaded erasers and everything else I needed to scribble and sketch away in my room. On the weekends, when we weren't at the river or the lake fishing with my dad, I loved sitting with the garage open, my paints laid out, my canvas primed ready to paint something. I am by no means a professional, but it is my opinion that art only requires inspiration, passion, a desire to share and patience. If you've got those things, you're an artist! I haven't worked on something in a while. The last thing I worked on was a pastel drawing of my roommate, Emily. She's so wonderful! We had just had a rather ridiculous photo shoot, but there was a picture of her I absolutely loved and I used it. Changed the setting, but I think it was fitting. And I think it really expressed how I usually saw her. Serene, gentle, smart, beautiful, sure of herself. I have no idea how she felt about it, but she didn't object when I asked her if I could sketch her :) Art is amazing! I have never been gifted with words. I get all tongue tied. I am everything but eloquent. I ramble. I get emotional and silent as I choke tears of either joy, anger or hurt. But when I let my pencils do the talking, when I let my brushes speak for me, things are a little easier to explain. One time, my family and I went to Annapolis to visit my grandfather. We were standing on a dock by the bay and I remember seeing some men who had been leisurely sailing on the calm waters of a humid summer day only Maryland shares. The sunset was so rich and the sky so endless and I wanted so badly to be able to see more all at once! Ever felt that way? Like when you're out camping and you see the countless stars and you keep looking and looking wishing your eyes would stretch? That's how I felt then. Not only were the sky and water beautiful to me, but also those friends. Laughing and talking about their kids, their wives, their beer (I know, I know). It was so tender! We didn't take a picture, so I didn't remember their faces. It would have been a bit creepy for a 17 year old to be staring and snapping pictures of complete strangers. But I did want to capture that moment. My grandpa's wife paints, so she let me use her stuff to start my painting. And that's when I fell in love with oil paints! If only art materials weren't so expensive. No wonder there's so many starving artists. Even when no one buys anything of theirs, they can't help but to create something new. I don't blame them. Much like the high you get after a good run is the high you get after you've finished a painting. Well, I'm sure the fumes eventually get to you also. Paint medium is perhaps my least favorite smell as far as art materials go. It smells like shoe polish and gasoline. Gives me a headache. But unfortunately, it is ever so necessary if you want to prevent your work from turning into a gooey mess of nothing.
I want to give a big thank you to all those who have endured that awful smell in order to create something beautiful that the rest of us can enjoy and appreciate. For taking the time to express their passion and love for something. For moving and influencing people to act, think, learn, love, and change. What a blessing, isn't it? To be able to express ourselves in more than one way?! With words, music, pictures, food, dance! The way we say thank you to Heavenly Father for this life should, in my opinion, involve in some way the talents He has given us. If I give someone a gift, I feel so happy when I see them wearing it or using it. I imagine that's how God feels. When we sing praises to Him, when we paint the green mountain sides we love so much, when we write about our lives, when we teach, when we comfort a friend, when we help someone laugh, when we give of ourselves and teach His children. I'm sure He rejoices. We are using His gifts. We are developing the talents He expects us to use for good! I love it! Everything beautiful in this mortal life testifies of Him and His Son. So why keep it to ourselves?! I encourage anyone who reads this to put a little more effort in developing their talents. And even more than that, to share them with others. Not in arrogance, but in service. Giving of yourself is the most you could ever give. It's what Christ did for us. He taught in a way everyone could understand. He loved and showed compassion. He gave everything of Himself for us. He used everything the Father blessed Him with...for us. I know that we are given gifts to develop them, to share them and to use them to testify of our love for a Father in Heaven who wants all the happiness for you and me. I love knowing that. I love knowing that the gifts we have are not just chance. There is a purpose. An opportunity to do good and bless the lives of those waiting to be blessed. Thank you to everyone who has shared their talents with me and strengthened my testimony of Christ. I hope that in some small way at some point in my life, I might be able to do the same :)