The photo above is from the Hans Christian Andersen movie starring Danny Kaye as Hans. The quote is his, too. The gifted comedian and actor was an insightful man. How right he was to urge us to do all we can with what we have.
He used a canvas and the idea of our being artists to get his point across. For me, the quote can also be looked at as writers who must spread the word paintings they create wherever possible. Never write just a little. Write every day--words of advice writers hear from successful writers--write with the joy of spreading your words where many can read them.
Writers do paint with words rather than brushes. Aren't we lucky? Our method is not nearly as messy. We don't need to wear a smock to cover our clothes as we tap away at our keyboards. We don't have to deal with wet paint and turpentine to clean brushes. Yet, we can paint a wonderful picture with the words that come from our hearts.
I know I am not alone in being overwhelmed at some natural scenery and wishing I could capture the place and the moment on canvas. Art is not my gift but I can write about what I witnessed. A short essay came from a moment in time many years ago which expands on this topic. Note the quote at the end. You can read it below.
By Nancy Julien Kopp
Out of breath and heart pounding, I make it to the top of the hill. Tallgrass prairie spreads before me, wildflowers springing up between the sharp blades of grass, dotting the hillsides with bits of bold color. Not a cloud mars the intensity of a clear azure sky. The strong breeze ruffles my hair, and I take a deep breath, pleasure encasing my very soul. Soon, the sun will turn to flame and begin a slow descent before the darkness of night covers the rolling hills like a vast blanket.
Oh, to be an artist and capture the scene God has placed before me. But a paintbrush and canvas are useless for a person like me. I can see the spectacular display, but never would I be able to duplicate it with an artist’s tools. I earned C’s in art classes all through my school years, and only for effort, not as the successful result of any assigned project.
I sigh, survey the living prairie once more, and bend to pluck a wildflower. I twirl the blossom between thumb and forefinger, then head to my car. The dust on the gravel road swirls behind me as I drive, and thoughts dance through my mind.
Maybe there is a way to capture what I’ve seen here today. Since I’m a writer, I paint my canvas with words in every story or article I create. That flower lying on the seat next to me—soft as the down on a baby’s head, purple as royal robes, and delicate as lace. All of these phrases describe the pretty little blossom. I bring it close and sniff to catch its sweet scent. I think of more phrases to capture this beauty for others. The artist’s canvas hangs on a wall or rests on an easel for all to see, but my words can live on, too.
The artist may dip his brush into paint and splash it across canvas to portray the sky, while I paint my sky with words—words that articulate, emote, surge the senses, highlight emotions. Can the artist capture the movement of the tallgrass prairie with a swish of his brush? A gifted painter can do so, but I can, too. I sift through phrases in my mind until I find the ones I want. Gentle breezes cause only a slight stir in the stiff blades of grass, but a strong
wind can bring
wave upon wave as it surges swiftly
across the prairie. My words flow as easily as the artist’s brush. I paint
my words with passion and excitement. The picture emerges from the depths of my
heart. It is the gift God has given me, a gift He allows me to share with
others who read my work. Kansas
Danny Kaye, actor and comedian, said, “Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.” I, too, am an artist. Just imagine what I can paint with words.