I sit down at the dining room table with the familiar mess: a million shards of safety-scissored scrap-paper transformed into a miniature bookshelf by a miniature artist; a formidable stack of papers from the preschool; a leaning tower of library books; and an abandoned teacup, half finished. I hope it was today’s tea.
I dream of converting the guest room into an art studio – I’ve even put that old kitchen table up there as a place-holder for the dream. But it’s here, the dining room, in the middle of the mess and the chaos, that I still come to paint. I come after my girls are tucked in at night, or while they watch the third episode of Wild Kratts in the other room, or now, while they shape play-dough into baked goods between their not-so-chubby-anymore fingers and imaginations.
We are making here, always.
We make dinner, and make forts out of blankets, and we make faces of frustration, the likes of which live on precisely no-one’s Instagram feed. We make messes and we make space and order and then we make messes again. We make it through bedtime and make love even in the tired seasons of life. We make memories and we paint with words and make story and make believe and we are making, making, making.
I make, more and more these days, with pencil and paint. I am embracing the idea that this gift, the art that always seeps out some place, can be my vocation. And the art can be a hidden wellspring. And the art can be an offering. I begin to see my art through this tri-focal lens.
I make art for hire. I make art that I sell here and there and this helps to provide for our family, makes another night that Ted is home and not working. I have never been a driven worker, and I am surprised to find joy in this.
I make art in the secret. I paint broken fragments of a nest when I don’t have words for the hope birthed in those dark, dormant waiting days. And there are words and images that are meant for the secret place.
I make art to give it away. Giving away something one’s poured time and paint and prayer into feeds the soul of the giver and the receiver, and I want my art to serve, to give generously with my time and brush.
There are seasons when I lean a little farther in to one of these three. In late fall, I painted and hand-lettered four prints for (in)courage’s new print collection, Words Matter.
I was in the midst of a season of making art for others, for hire. August brought the (in)Mercy campaign graphics, and September brought illustrations for the second of The Growly Books. October brought the Micah 6:8 poster, and then November brought the Words Matter prints.
So I carved out quiet in December and let art grow in the secret place. And art for others came from that place, too, gifts drawn and painted with another in mind. I keep dancing between these three ways of making, letting myself lean into one, and over-correct with the other, all in the midst of the mothering and home-making and friendship-building and everyday ordinary that mostly fills my days. I think there’s a cadence emerging.
I sketched my four Words Matter prints, and worked and reworked the letters in paint and ink and then on the screen. Hand-lettering offers the opportunity to pour over words slowly, letter-by-letter, and I let the words seep in.
After I sent the final drafts, I heard back that I’d left a word out. I laughed. We are all learning, and this is new to me: this balancing work and family, art for soul and art for hire.
I could write on and on, but there’s unrest in the play-dough bakery, and real-food dinner to be made, so I’ll let my words rest, like my art, and hope, always, that something beautiful will transpire in the space between my making and your seeing.
(in)courage and DaySpring just love working with Annie Barnett – her talent, creativity, generosity, and heart are such a perfect match for this community! If you’re interested in purchasing Annie’s specific Words Matter art prints, you can find them at DaySpring.com using the links below (each one is only $10 and make great gifts, too!):
- A Beautiful Blend of Abilities
- The God Who Spoke The World Into Being
- Wear Love
- We Change The World When
Would you like to influence the next phase of this collection? The (in)courage team would love your feedback. We want to produce the designs that YOU love! Click here to take this short 4-8 minute survey. We really value your thoughts and feedback. Super fun bonus: We’ll randomly select one lucky person who completes the survey to receive a gift package from (in)courage worth $40! Woohoo!