Blank Canvas

The newborn child as a blank canvas

Ah, the anticipation of a blank canvas. With my love of wood-based art, my blank canvas is usually a chunk of wood or a collection of wood scraps. And that’s the case for a piece due for a group exhibit in just one week. I have a concept and I have a wood block. What I don’t have is time. That’s not uncommon. The realities of life often have a direct effect on the artwork I’m able to develop. My concept will need to be simplified. But simple is better, right? That’s one saying that is usually true when it comes to design, so I’m not too disappointed in the changes I’ll be forced to make. I’ll determine what planned elements are necessary and what are superfluous.

In two short months, Lord willing, my wife will give birth to our first child—a girl. Now that’s an amazing creation! She too will be a blank canvas of sorts. It frustrates me to think that the realities of life—contraints on time, prioritizing of efforts—will directly affect what I’m able to invest in my daughter. But this is the life God designed and again, those limitations can be a good thing. I can’t (and shouldn’t) spend every moment with her. I’ll need to evaluate what is most important and what must be set aside. Oh, I’ve tried to learn some of these things in advance, but I realize my child-raising knowledge means little without experience. However, I do know the fundamentals, I have good examples to follow, I have the support of family and friends, and I have an amazing collaborator in my wife.

My life is going to change. As a result my art will change in practical ways. For example, I expect the pieces are going to get smaller. Some of the large works I’ve developed over the years are currently physical hazards sitting around our home. But beyond that, my time will be limited, and small works may be more reasonable. I do value art. And I value the time I’m able to put into it. But I will value my little girl more and I’m a fool to expect there won’t be sacrifices. So I embrace them.

The past few years I’ve come to understand there are things you really can’t appreciate or sympathize with until you’ve experienced them. Earlier this week I had my first surgery. I now can better relate to somebody going through the recovery process. And until my design business experienced a few years of famine, I could not truly understand the position of the person who is barely getting by.

So as I finally get to experience the emotions, joys and fears of parenthood, maybe, just maybe my art will become more vibrant. Maybe it will become less logical. Whatever the change may be, I’m sure it is coming. In the meantime I am thankful for the blank canvases and wonder what will come of them.

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