Sloppy Painting: Seeing the Big Picture in the Midst of the Mess

My sweet friend and neighbor, Donna, is a wonderful decorative painter.  She’s passionate about her craft and eager to share it with others; she even got me to (try to) paint!  Donna shared a recent experience and I couldn’t wait to commit it to words and share with you. 

She was admiring an art exhibit that hung in a local gallery, and one piece stood out from the rest, beckoning her in for a better look.  Up close the painting looked like a total mess.  She, a very accomplished painter, was baffled with creating this way.  Donna’s work reflects her love of clean lines, direction, and order.  But the painting that so intrigued her was chaotic, very free-form in its style; it looked like a sloppy, disorganized disaster at close range.  From a distance, however, it was a beautiful piece- a stately lion rather than a tangle of splotches and smears of paint placed with no apparent rhyme or reason. 

She was mystified how an artist could do that: stand a few inches away from a canvas, creating a beautiful mess, somehow knowing the beauty that will emerge when the painting is complete.  How does this messy, chaotic creativity work?  It clearly makes sense to the artist and the final product works out to be what they intended all along: beautiful. 

In life, we like to think we are the artists creating our own paintings, when we aren’t in control.  We can’t choose the canvas, colors, or the direction of the strokes. We have the urge to suggest a color, give helpful advice, perhaps weigh in on the size and shape of the canvas.  But we are NOT the artist.  We are beautiful messes, works in progress, every one of us.  I see my own chaos, my own mistakes, my own missteps, my own glaring faults, a sloppy, disorganized disaster close-up.  But they’re part of the texture and melange of brush strokes that God is using to create something unlike any other piece he’s painted in the past.  His masterpiece of me. 

So often we fret, worry, and shed oceans of tears about those in our lives who are wandering.  We pray, we struggle with their path, wondering at the splotches and smears in their life, things seemingly without rhyme or reason.  But in the midst of that, God whispers, “Listen.  Back up.   It’s an unfinished mess of a painting when you look close up, but I’m not done.  They’re mine and I’m still working on them.  You’ve been trying to direct the Artist, choose the color, hold the paint brush.  Step back so you can see more than the mess in this person’s life.  Can’t you see the beauty I’m creating? This life, my masterpiece, isn’t finished yet.” 

Trust the Master Artist as He paints your canvas and the canvases of those you love.  He sees the big picture. He has the plan.  He knows the end result.  He gives perspective.  Seek His will for your life, His design, His pattern.  Trust that His process is creating beauty in the midst of the mess.

For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.  Ephesians 2:10, NLT



Kathleen Tysinger
I’m a Christian girl on the journey through an adventure-filled life, a blogger, writer, speaker, and mom to two college students. I am blessed to be married to my high school sweetheart and we make our home near Sacramento, California. While I spent years as an English teacher and in the business world, I was given the gift of a “different-paced” life through the onset of a chronic illness in 2015, and my adventure continues…

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