A few weeks ago, David was watching a show about Gold mining. I’m uncertain as to why this type of show would peak his interest. He could care less about gold or mining. Nevertheless, he watches. And even though I don’t typically watch TV, somehow the program captured my attention too. The episode was an interview of gold mining Grandpa, and his young grandson, mini miner (please excuse my nicknames). Grandpa discussed how he gave his “boy” many responsibilities and how his very inexperienced grandson, gave his all to becoming successful in the gold mining field. His success was quite impressive, considering mini miner’s delicate age. They flashed back episodes with all the challenges and disappointments of the season, and guess what? This young gold miner pushed through and came out victorious! Grandson must have felt so discouraged in the face of hurdles, yet so proud when he ran through the wall of difficulty and pressed on to triumph.
Discouragement then triumph. That’s a little of what I felt when I painted a portrait of Hanah. For Christmas, I wanted to give David a gift that had meaning. What better gift than to personally paint a portrait of our little Husky, who died suddenly over the summer?
I stared at the blank canvas and glanced many times at the picture that I was trying to replicate.
The first brush stroke was the hardest. About two hours into my artistic attempts, I had a pretty good outline of Hanah, but with only one hour left in the painting season, the pressure built to complete it by hour three. I was getting discouraged. It took me TWO HOURS to get this far. Would my present be a disaster?
One of the instructors, a man with a sleeve of tattoos, looked at my incomplete masterpiece. He studied it for a moment and then said,
“You’re trying to complete the whole picture too quickly. You need to focus on each little facet. Spend some time just shading her nose. Look at her eyes. See the reflection? Add some white paint to show Hanah’s reflection in her eyes. Just take it one detail at a time.”
Once I focused on little changes, the portrait came to life! Within three hours, I completed my magnum opus. There it was. The best that I could do—feeling like Renoir.
The gold mining show ended in a final statement from grandpa. He looked adoringly at his grandson and said something like;
If I teach him one thing, anything, it’s to never give up.
I didn’t give up. Even though I couldn’t see how my painting would turn out. Even when I wanted to scrap the whole idea, and run to buy a gift card instead. I pushed through and worked on each detail, one at a time.
The challenges of Gold mining and painting are on opposite sides of the spectrum, I know. But I felt grandson’s persistence when working away on my canvas.
David smiled when he saw his gift.
Then the artist’s statement echoed in my head:
“You are trying to complete the whole picture too quickly. You need to focus on each little facet. Just take it one detail at a time.”
And golding mining grandpa’s voice followed next:
If I teach her one thing, anything, it’s to never give up.
And I smiled back.