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How Creativity Can Be a Divine Spark

A new, relaxing art habit awakens positive insights about change, humility, and purpose.

Watercolor crayons as a divine spark
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Words are usually my art supplies, but lately I’ve been spending time with a very special visual art tool—watercolor pencils. These are colored pencils whose pigment is water-soluble, so when you draw with them and add water, your dots, scribbles, and rubbings transform into a wash of color, a picture brought to life. A divine spark.

This easy, relaxing activity calls out to be seen as a metaphor. Spirituality or religious practice, after all, is its own sort of art form. It’s surprising, beautiful, and ever-changing. It’s there anytime we want to reach for it. And its product, whether or not it’s what we hoped for or expected, is always true at some level.

Here are six ways this easy, relaxing activity (or any other creative hobby) resonates as a metaphor for your inner spiritual life.

1)  Change

Watercolor pencil art starts off looking like a drawing, and ends up looking like a painting. Both are beautiful—as is the transformation that takes it from here to there.

2)  Awakening

The term artists use to describe watercolor penciling is to say the work is “activated.” The gentle beauty of activated pencils on a page reminds us to look for what can emerge when we wake up to our days, our feelings, our relationships, and our purpose.

3)  Balance

To everything there is a season—this is true in prayer, meditation, and art. There is a time and a place for deep, vibrant, strength, and for a light, soft touch. Give yourself permission to contrast big and small, light and dark, minor and major moments in your art—and your life.

4)  Humility

As with any art form—including prayer—things won’t always go according to plan. Be humble in your journey and look for opportunities to reset and start again. To me, this profoundly humble feeling is a spiritual practice. When I sit down with my pencils, a sheet of paper, and a clean glass of water, I’m not here to make a masterpiece. I’m here to play—and to pray.

5)  Insight

Watercolor art can be abstract, but we get unexpected moments of insight and recognition when we pay attention. A slash of dark gray against a soft background can become a stand of distant trees. Or a circular swirl can blossom into a flower. When that picture crystalizes in your mind, take a moment to feel grateful for what has emerged from your creative heart.

6)  Rest

Making art with watercolor pencils is relaxing. The work is slow, steady, soft, and quiet. When we bring ourselves to a piece of watercolor paper, we are making space for ourselves to rest in our own gentle creativity.

What will you create today in your life? What colors will you activate to make your world a more beautiful, more positive, more joyful work of art, a divine spark?

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