A post with no name

I’ve been doing a lot of this lately:

no name post
“The Thinker”, August Rodin, bronze.

If you’ve been reading us for awhile, you know that Laura and I trade off weeks to blog. She needed some time off, so we just posted an old blog last week, which meant this week was my turn. I’d love to tell you that I just sit down one afternoon and dash a few lines down on paper and voila = a new blog post. Sadly, that is not how it usually goes.

I do tried to plan in advance some topics for future posts, I keep a list when ideas strike me. Then the week of writing, I like to jot down an idea, maybe a title on Monday. I do a little research, find some photos to feature, some links to include, sometimes even little outline. I generally block out Tuesday afternoons to write. That way on Wednesday, I can read over it, make some edits and get it all set to post on Thursday morning. But this week my ideas looked a bit like this:

no name post
Robert Rauschenberg, White Painting [three panel], 1951; latex paint on canvas, 72 in. x 108 in. (182.88 cm x 274.32 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Purchase through a gift of Phyllis C. Wattis; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Tuesday, nothing. Wednesday, nothing…..I did for a brief moment, consider doing my own “invisible art” and posting a blank page. You can write your own post! I was concerned that might not be so well received……

The reality is that the creative process takes time. When Laura goes into her studio to paint, a masterpiece doesn’t suddenly appear on the page. There are workshops on techniques, sketches, photographs, color studies. Sometimes, paint even gets scraped off the canvas and the work is begun anew.

Writing for me is a bit like that – I’ve studied, participated in workshops, read articles and sometimes, I start a post and don’t finish it. I might come back to it, I might just hit the delete button and begin again.

No post to write

So what’s a writer to do when she has nothing to write? I don’t know…when I figure that out, I’ll be sure to write a post on it! In the meantime, I’ll wax on about my own creative process and hopefully bring some beauty and encouragement to you.

Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. I really didn’t want to have to post a new blog this week because the writing just wasn’t coming together. But Laura challenged me that maybe that is exactly what I could write about. I’m an organized person. I have a plan and I love it when the plan comes together.

Life is often not so well organized. The dots don’t get connected, sickness intervenes, death disrupts, joy sidetracks and the plan is scrapped and the journey takes a new direction. Maybe the plan isn’t the point. Maybe the Planner is (not the planner – those very disruptions show that I’m not ultimately in charge of my plan). I am often slow to learn. Perhaps now is not the time to force the creative process. Maybe now is the time to just be.

I have no amazing title, no carefully crafted phrases for SEO (search engine optimization), no fabulous wrap up and call to action. I’m going to fix myself a cup of coffee and go for a walk, or maybe I’ll read a good book. The next post will come in time.

no name post
“The Path at La Cavee Pourville”, Claude Monet, oil.

The Art of the Mundane

art of the mundane
© Laura Gabel, “Just Dandi”. Pastel on Uart, 9.5 x 11.5. Private collection.

“Mundane” – ordinary, pertaining to the things of earth. The mundane is where most of us live – the ordinary, everyday stuff of life. As I sit writing this, I also have my preschool teacher hat on and I’m watching ten precious three-year-olds vainly fight sleep during their daily rest time. The moment indeed feels very ordinary. 

Earlier this week, I gathered with some dear mom friends from my children’s school for a sweet time of fellowship. We gather every week throughout the school year. Another ordinary, mundane moment. 

What has art to do with the mundane-ness of our lives? I would suggest that most of us are surrounded by far more art in the midst of our mundane lives than we ever thought possible. At that same gathering of mom’s this week, I was asked, “so is it your week to blog?” When I responded “yes….” the immediate follow up question was “what are you writing on?” Honestly, at that point, I hadn’t yet decided. I tend to have multiple ideas rolling around in my head that hopefully crystalize into something coherent and (if God is especially gracious) interesting by Thursday morning. 

One of my friends shared a story from her adventures in knitting that I’ve been rolling around in my head for the past few days. She was pondering the verse from Psalm 139 where David remarks that God knit him together in his mother’s womb. When she knits, every piece of the yarn that she is using passes through her hands as she transforms it into a finished (and no doubt lovely) piece. In the same way, she commented, every piece of our lives, every strand, every fiber of our being has passed through our Maker’s Hands as he transforms us into His workmanship.

art of the mundane
Knitting and photo credits to Heather B.

Do you see what my friend did there? She took the mundane, ordinary hobby of knitting and made it into a holy moment. No longer confined just to the things of this world. An otherworldly truth, a beautiful, artistic moment broke forth. We are surrounded by beauty, by art even in the very ordinary things of our lives. 

Brother Lawrence wrote a book many centuries ago called “Practicing the Presence of God”. In one of the more well-known passages, Lawrence talks about experiencing the very presence of God while washing dishes in the monastery. 

art of the mundane

How to see art in the mundane

I don’t know what your “to do” list looks like this week. I suspect much of it involves work tasks, errands to run, perhaps a few fun activities thrown in there. The vast majority of your tasks are likely ones you do every week, maybe even every day. Most of us live rather ordinary lives. I want to challenge you to open your eyes to see the beauty that is around you. Where is the art to be found in those mundane moments?

We’re in the process of launching our Instagram feed; you can follow us @artoflgabel. I’d love to see you be part of that adventure. As your eyes are opened to the art around you, grab your phone and snap a picture. Share your everyday moments of art with us, use #artofthemundane. 

art of the mundane