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  • Kristan Higgins

Being and doing

Updated: May 5, 2022

As has been well documented, I’m not a crafty person. I can bake really pretty things, but give me a pair of scissors, and injuries ensue. I can’t count the number of times I’ve glued my fingers together or burned myself with a glue gun. I’m still vacuuming up from two years ago, when I thought, “How hard can this be?” and tried to spray green glitter on a styrofoam cone.


However…I’ve discovered that I like to paint. By “paint,” I mean move paint around on a surface, not actually create something that looks like something else. Stick figures are about as accurate as I ever got (very cute stick figures, mind you).

But paint is very forgiving. You can do abstracts…smears and globs, swishes and dots. Just about anything blue can be passed off as sky or ocean. Shades of red, orange and pink? It’s a sunset. The joy is really in colors. Recently, I smeared some purples and blues on a piece of paper. The Princess, being a faithful, kind and lovely person, gasped and said, “That’s beautiful! Can I have it?” She framed it and hung it in her apartment. (Dearest Son has not yet requested one of my pieces, which I’m chalking up to the fact that he lives in a dorm room. His day will come.)


The Princess’s joy gave me the idea of making paintings for Christmas presents. When I told this to my mother, she said, “Are you sure that’s a good idea? Everyone’s tastes are so different. You’d feel bad if you saw them in the trash.” (This is the same woman who told me I was too much of a klutz to take ballet lessons when I was five. But I digress.) Hey. I could be an artistic genius. They laughed at Van Gogh, too.

Undeterred by a lack of maternal enthusiasm, I’ve been painting. Since I know nothing about art, I don’t have a style, so I’ve been experimenting. Does that look like a boat, or an elephant? A lighthouse, or a phallus? Would a smear of red improve it? (Not unless I was painting a bris.)


The best part of this painting-their-gift thing is this. The whole time I’m doing it, I’m happy. It’s fun to do something different. I think about the intended recipient and how much they mean to me. I’m not binge-eating Christmas cookies (yet), and I’m not on a device or watching TV. I’m just…being. Being and doing, with a heart full of love.


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