The British statesman, Winston Churchill, famously recommended painting as a pastime especially for people in leadership. Churchill was forty when he took up painting. He was a prolific painter, with 500 oil paintings to his credit. In painting he found respite from the strain of public service. He viewed painting as renewing diversion for the public person.
Churchill’s advise rings true for me today. As a pastor I live a public life. In art, I forget the worries and cares of my work and am drawn into a world of creativity, color and composition. Churchill said, “Happy are the painters, for they shall not be lonely. Light and colour, peace and hope, will keep them company to the end, or almost to the end, of the day.”
I recently facilitated a birthday gift to a pastor colleague of a one-year membership to my brother Jed Dorsey’s online acrylic platform. It was a joy to give the gift of art to a friend. Here’s a video snapshot of that gift.
Just today I arranged for another pastor friend to get a year membership at Jed’s Acrylic University at a discounted rate. This got me thinking about the practical benefits of encouraging art as a pastime for pastors. Here are five reasons to consider giving the gift of painting as a pastime to your pastor.
Reason One: To encourage your pastor’s growth as a creative person.
Pastors spend their time in the all-absorbing work of caring for people, studying Scripture, preaching, teaching, counseling, crisis care, leadership, project management, communication, financial oversight, and the hundreds of details that take up pastoral ministry. This work is of first importance and it should take up the bulk of the pastor’s energy. But because of the importance of this work and its pressing nature, the pastor’s creativity often is not nurtured. Like a muscle that is not exercised, many pastor’s creativity is flabby, stilted, wilted. Since creativity is an important aspect of a whole person, this means an important part of the pastor is under-developed. Cultivating creativity is important not only for your pastor’s personal formation, but also for their work. If the creative muscle is nurtured it will give your pastor fresh eyes and reborn imagination and new energy to engage pastoral work. So the first reason to give the gift of art is to encourage your pastor’s growth in creativity. Nimbleness of mind, creativity of thought, and seeing a thing from a new vantage point, all can be encouraged through taking up painting as a pastime.
Reason Two: To create space and focus for your pastor on their sabbath.
Your pastor can’t grow in creativity if they don’t give time to it. Pastors like many people tend to be workaholics. To set aside the commentaries for the camera to capture photographs to paint is a way to Sabbath. Painting forces a change of pace, and it requires space either inside or outside to be set up to paint. Painting is a like golf that it takes time, focus. So a practical benefit of painting, like fishing, playing golf, and hiking is that it is the unbending of the bow and the release of the bowstring. It takes time and space; it is a change of pace. If not relaxing, at least a new and different challenge.
Over the years, I’ve the space and time I’ve carved out for painting has been life-giving. The first year after Jenny and I were married (1992-93) I did an internship at Camano Chapel on Camano Island, WA. I put my palette and brushes and paper on the ping pong table in our basement apartment and painted there. I met with a group of older women each week to paint Plein Air. We met for tea at the Calico Cupboard in LaConner and talked about life and art, then painted farms and barns and bridges and rivers in Skagit Valley. During my seminary years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (1993-1995), I painted on our kitchen table. From that makeshift studio I managed to paint enough watercolorst to pull off an art show at the CB Commercial real estate office where Jenny worked. I also took an art class at the Academy of Art in Chicago. During my five years in Seattle (1997-2002), I turned our garage into a studio and painted there. In Indianapolis (2002-2015), I enjoyed a small studio in the Harrison Center for the Art https://www.harrisoncenter.org for a year. But for my solo show I painted 30 watercolors in 30 days at our kitchen nook that I turned into a studio. Now that I’ve moved back to WA, by God’s grace I’ve been able to fulfill my decades old dream to build an art studio/gallery to showcase our family of artists and share beauty. It’s an hour plus drive to the studio on Camano from our home in Redmond, WA. Still I’m not limited to painting only at the studio. I paint Plein Air on the Sammamish River next to our apartment. I’m currently working on a series of paintings called “The Bridges of Redmond” at our dining room table.
My point is this: you can paint almost anywhere and almost at anytime. You just need to carve out some space and time. Consider giving your pastor the gift of art as a pastime to encourage sabbath.
Reason Three: to help cover the financial “start up” costs of painting
Many people neglect to nurture the creativity embedded in them because it is hard to spend money on a creative pursuit. It feels like a waste, frivolous. Pastors are like the rest. We don’t like to waste money. And we’re not made of money. So helping your pastor with “start up” costs of painting can get things going and be a big boost. Many times that will be all that’s needed. The pastor will enjoy painting and be off on the journey of painting. Painting is a pastime that can pay for itself. For example, a typical 3-4 day art workshop from a top notch artist is $300-$500. Buying art supplies ti get started will be at least $200. So let’s estimate that the cost of your pastor getting started as an artist is 1K. After those start up costs, the costs of painting are minimal, unlike golf, for example. Moreover, if your pastor takes it seriously, and has some gifts, they might be able to sell a painting or two each year. At the very least, if your pastor enjoys painting, finds it renewing and rewarding, it may save money that would be spent on counseling our some other form of therapy or self-medication. Mental health matters. So a third reason to cover the start up costs of painting are that the rewards, both financial and personal, are worth it.
Where to get started?
I’m about to do a short promotion for my brother, Jed Dorsey’s, online platform that helps people like your pastor take the creative journey into painting. It is called Acrylic University and it is a great place to go to get started. If you’re not interested in that, you can stop reading here. If you are interested in some of the benefits of Acrylic University this is my list.
- AU gives you access to high quality acrylic instruction in your home and at any time.
- AU gives is a great deal. A typical 3-4 day workshop costs $300+ and is only for a few days. AU costs pastors the same amount and you can access AU anytime you want.
- AU provides access to hundreds of artists and creative people from all around the world. Your creativity will be encouraged. It is really fun to see the 100’s of artists on AU share their work, encourage each other, and get helpful critique.
- AU offers basic training to more advanced training. Their content is wonderful and user friendly. They’ll help you get started with the basic equipment you need and help you along the way.
- It would be fun for me to have a few pastors join me in the community.
Through the gift of art you can encourage your pastor to take a new path, a new risk, a new adventure in this new year. Painting is a great pastime for the pastor. When you don’t have to make a living by selling your paintings, painting can be a wonderful way to enjoy God’s creation and learn to see in a whole new way. If you’d like to check it out, here’s the link.