Practice and Training

You’ll probably laugh…or scoff. If you’ve been following along you will know that I’ve been teaching myself Photoshop and HTML and CSS coding. That has been going well, for the most part. You may also remember that I’ve been writing too. Several articles published a year so far, and a lot of fiction–two completed novels and a third in progress, all of that unpublished…so far.

We can blame it on Photoshop, perhaps, but I’ve also started drawing more again. A couple of years ago Marjorie bought me some pencils and a sketchbook, and since then I’ve gotten some prismacolors and oil pastels.

I started a portrait of Marjorie the other night and was…displeased. No big deal. So last night I found a nice photo of Olivia and made it black and white to help with the penciling, printed it and sat down to draw. It did not go well. In desperation I grabbed a 8B pencil and started over, laying down a lot of dark. It actually was better looking…though still did not look like Olivia very much.

Then I remembered one of the pieces I drew in High School–a white on black portrait of Jimi Hendrix. It was good, as I recall.  But these latest ones were not. I couldn’t understand it at all. I showed Marjorie the failed attempts at Olivia and remarked that “I don’t think I can draw anymore.”

In the clear light of morning I know that’s baloney. Of course I can still draw. I just haven’t done it in such a long time I am really out

training wheels

of practice. Like riding a bike. I learned how to once, but if you don’t do it in a long time, you’re going to be rusty and tired and sore and not do as well. Athletes train the bodies to work at maximum efficiency. Writers write, painters paint, plumbers plumb, carpenters build, doctors study and practice and train for years. It’s the way things are.

And our spiritual lives are not immune. Doing good works in the Kingdom of God takes training and practice, practice and training. It takes learning to know what to do, to do it cheerfully, to do it often so that the good works flow naturally from you. As Luther reminds us, fasting is good bodily training. It is only true fasting when it leads us to further self-denial, a fast from sin. Refraining from food teaches and trains us how to resist the other demands of our flesh, for recognition and power and lust and coveting. Training.

3 comments on “Practice and Training

  1. Fr. Hall, thanks so much for this extremely helpful post. We need to embrace all the gifts of the Church, not just Article IV, central and important as it is to our life in Chirst. To add to your list: Preachers preach:)

  2. OoooOOoooo…. Prismacolors!! My prismacolors are packed away in a box in a van down by the river… err…

    I would suggest tracing your printed image a few times so your hand will “know” what to draw from practice. (Dirty Artist’s Secret: More artists than you think shamelessly trace pictures for their art.)

    Keep at it!! I want to see some original Christopher Hall artwork on this blog soon!

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