Life after Art: A Review

A little over a month ago, I opened my mail to find this gem of a book by Matt Appling. I fully intended to have posted my review by now, but, as life would have it, it took me longer to finish than I expected. That's not to say the book was bad, or didn't hold my attention – quite the opposite in fact. I found that it took me longer, because I wanted to read it slower. I wanted time to absorb the material, to make notes, and to underline sentences that particularly struck me – when means that I ended up underlining phrases on every page.
This book is, categorically, a Christian Living book; and while there is an obvious Christian influence throughout the writing, I found that it wasn't oppressively pushing an agenda or in-your-face preachy that is often characteristic of the category. The basis of the book is seemingly simple: we, as human beings created in the image of the ultimate Creator, are born to create, and create. Yet, over time, we've turned from this calling, forcing ourselves to abandon the “childish” behaviors that brought us most joy and commanding our creative natures to find another outlet, often resulting in complex stressors and an underlying lack of happiness.
Matt notes that as children, we embrace this truth. We freely and happily share our art with anyone that will have it. We sing, we paint, we draw, we imagine elaborate games – all without care, concern, or fear. However, as we grow older and more experienced in the world, we begin to fall into the trap of comparison. We see that our peers are better than we are. We are embarrased by our creations. We fail in our attempts and then become too scared to try again. We settle for good enough instead of good. We stop thinking about creating.
While I consider myself a very creative and artistic person, I must admit that it's been a while since I've picked up a paintbrush. And, after reading Matt's book, that's exactly what I'm inclined to do – stretch a huge canvas and paint away – without hesitation and fear of mistakes. Without over thinking and over stressing. Without focusing on the perfect-ness and instead just letting the brush go…. I'm sensing a weekend project in my near future. Because after all,
An amateur artist tries to erase a mistake. A master artist learns how to work with a mistake.

If you'd like to reclaim your own creativity, you can find Matt's book on Amazon here. I highly recommend it for anyone who fancies themselves the creative type, anyone who works with children, and anyone who wants to think of themselves as creative. In short, it's a great book for anyone, and well worth the $10 ($8 for Kindle).



Matt Appling sent me a free copy of his book, Life After Art: What you Forgot about Life and Faith since You Left the Art Room, in exchange for my review. All opinions stated are 100% my own.


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