Part 1 - How did I get started painting?

Codye ReysteadComment

Hello readers!

Click the image above to watch “Sword of Inspiration” live-painting video.

Click the image above to watch “Sword of Inspiration” live-painting video.

This week has been a very busy week in the studio! In just a few short weeks I will be speaking and painting for a gathering in La Habra, California. I enjoy warm weather and palm trees so a quick trip to California this time of the year will be a blessing! Then it’s off to Winston Salem, North Carolina to paint and teach at The Breath and The Clay conference. Hopefully there will be bit of warm weather there too!

But moving on, today I wanted to answer one of the most common questions I get asked as an artist– How did I get started painting?

When I was only three or so, I drew an old pioneer wagon with horses. Looking back, this was probably the first prophetic drawing I ever did! I didn’t know it then, but “pioneering” God-driven creativity has now become a reoccurring theme in my life!

It’s been a journey…

I grew up in a household where God was known and present–a household in which He was welcomed, sought, and loved. In this environment, I grew up with a sort of “holy knowing mixed with holy restlessness” (from a very early age)–I had an innate knowing: God gave me the gift to draw and paint, and He had given it to me for a reason…

By the time I entered my teens, I was fully aware of the holy knowing and restlessness that stirred within me–And I was well aware it seemed to be getting stronger with every passing day…

Holy restlessness can make a soul a bit stir crazy. So out of the need to do something, I focused this holy restlessness towards honing my artistry. I signed up for all the art classes I could in high school, and spent time drawing and painting outside of school as well.

By the time college came, I had honed my artistry enough to receive an art scholarship from a well known and prestigious university. I still didn’t really know what I was to do with my artistic gift, but I figured getting an art degree only made sense. It must be the next step, right?

So I went to college on an art scholarship. However, after attending classes for a semester I found myself surrounded by darkness–a darkness that was evident both in the art being produced and the art department I was involved in. Even the creative arts building seemed to host a sense of foreboding darkness.

It went against everything in me–to use my artistic gift to create such darkness, depression, pain, hopelessness, emotional anguish, etc. in my work–and promoting the darkness was an unspoken, yet evident requirement in the classes I was taking. I had always wanted to produce images that were life-giving not life-taking. So it was extremely difficult (even painful), to find myself thrust into this very dark creative environment. An environment in which I was expected to create and produce more darkness.

I remember leaving for Christmas break with deep depression beginning to attack my soul. My hands felt dark and tainted. It was as if a black, tacky-tar like substance had been poured all over my hands–carrying with it despair, hopelessness, and depression. But worst of all, this darkness was slowly trying making its way to my heart…

Because the heart and the hands…they’re connected…

Artists are deep souls. We feel deep. We live deep. We love deep. And we really know no other way to be. Deep waters seem to be woven into our very DNA. So when I found myself in a creative environment filled with such darkness, I found and my soul fighting a depth of depression I had never known.

I couldn't do it anymore…

So I turned my back on art and changed my major all together. I was done. Turning in my final projects, I walked out of the art department for good. I remember looking up at the three story windows, positioned at the entrance of the art building. Just months earlier I had walked in the same building with such excitement–excitement to hone the gift God had given me and cultivate my artistry. But now, a semester later, I walked through the same doors–my heart wreaked and my spirit bleeding…

I was broken. Disappointment choked my soul. Grief and sorrow overwhelmed me in ways no words could express. I felt as if a part of my soul, deep down inside, now ceased to breathe–what I thought would be, was no longer. All sense of direction and purpose was now silenced by the darkness I had encountered.

I continued college, but my artistic spirit existed in a sort of silence and isolation. My heart remained with God, but from a distance. I didn't know what to do next. If I turned my back on art, was I actually turning my back on my true purpose and calling?

I didn’t know anymore…and it was too painful to process. So i ignored the painful disappointment, kept myself busy, and threw myself into my new major–working off campus and taking full loads every semester.

But I lived detached. It was as if something within had been profoundly silenced. Out of pain, I turned my back on all things art related–And though the artist inside yearned to create again, I chose to ignore the longing…

I wouldn’t pick up a paintbrush again for several years….

More of this backstory coming soon!

-Codye Reystead