Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: White (10/29/09)
TITLE: Tabula Rasa
By Chris Janzen
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Lauren was having a difficult time deciding what to write about. She could have written at length about any one of the many things she loved, not to mention vanilla ice cream, popcorn, and ooohh, white chocolate!
She chewed on the end of her pencil. Her mind drifted back to her childhood and how she loved the smell of a freshly opened box of crayons. She would sit down with her plain white sheet of paper knowing anything was possible. She had the same feeling now as she did then...what to put on the paper?
As an art student Lauren had lots of experience with blank canvases. She worked in every kind of medium imaginable. Her favorite was watercolor because, without a doubt, it was the most difficult. It left no room for error. With watercolor, an artist must use deliberate and careful brush marks. The paint is transparent so mistakes can not be removed or covered over. That's part of the challenge and the intrigue.
She thought of how there had been no room for error in her own life growing up. Her strict parents demanded perfection from young Lauren, and were determined to get it. She did her best, but like all human beings, made her share of mistakes. This was somehow unacceptable.
One day when she was about four, she took out her new crayons and used the freshly painted white walls in the hallway for her canvas. She drew a beautiful scene with grassy hills, blue skies, and big fluffy cotton ball clouds. There were birds and butterflies flying around. Flowers grew on the hillside. She couldn't wait to show her mom. Her reaction was not what Lauren had expected. There were no words of praise and encouragement. Instead, she got a spanking and spent the rest of the day in her room with no crayons.
As she grew as an artist, Lauren began to experiment with different techniques. Oils and acrylics were nice to paint with because any mistake could easily be covered by just waiting a while for the paint to dry and then painting over it. Drawing with colored pencils and pastels were similar. A mistake could be worked into the picture, disguised, or covered with more color. She liked the safety and security of these materials, knowing that if she messed it up, she could make it perfect again.
Lauren became a Christian in high school, and she learned that “the blood of Jesus covers a multitude of sins.” This was hard for her to grasp at first, having always been punished severely for her transgressions.
“Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow.” Lauren really liked that. In fact, it's what appealed to her most about Jesus; that he would just “erase” her mistakes and love her anyway as if they never happened. She had never experienced such acceptance and unconditional love.
Now studying art in college, she excelled in her creative endeavors. When she was given a blank canvas, she saw all the possibilities it held. It wasn't overwhelming to her the way that trying to write a paper was. It was comforting because she was in control of what the picture would be.
She took her pencil and began to write...”White has been described by many artists as the absence of color, and as an artist myself, I can say it is a thing of beauty. When I behold a pure white canvas, I know it is completely my choice what the picture will look like, what subject I choose, the colors I use, the technique...it is all up to me because it is my creation.”
She continued writing with a smile and a deep contentment knowing that she too was a blank canvas. The Artist she loved was helping her paint the picture of her life, and He never took away her crayons when she made mistakes.
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