close up on artist using a paintbrush to paint oranges on paper

Using the Creator’s creativity in your own creative expression

He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers (Exodus 35:35).

When I was a little girl, I was always creating something, whether it was handmade pocketbooks or a papier-mache piggy bank or writing. I had a wild imagination, and I knew that one day I would do something with art or books. I spent hours doodling. In third grade, I penned an essay that began, “When I grow up, I’m going to be an artist.” This essay gave me the chance to flex my dreaming muscles about my art career.

To this day, I love hearing the dreams planted in young children’s hearts. Pablo Picasso famously said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up.”

Fast-forward to my high school years, when I received a D in my studio art class. Friends, I very nearly failed my dream. I wasn’t the most academic, but surely I would excel in this part of my dream, right?

Sometimes in my studio I’ll approach my canvas with a vision of an angel with spread wings and empty hands, only to find through the process of painting and being led by worship music that what appears instead is an angel with folded wings and a violin, perched to praise the Lord. Different from my original vision, but these detours include details he uses to encourage just the right person, for reasons I may not comprehend in the moment.

Back in art class, however, I didn’t have that foundation of faith. Instead, I allowed doubt to creep into my heart as I wondered if maybe I’d misunderstood God. In fact, I took my own detour, studying elementary education. Later, I taught third grade, and for those years, my heart and hands were full, shepherding precious children and encouraging them to follow their wild hopes and unfiltered dreams.

Our God is the ultimate Creator, and he instilled in each of us our own creative expression. I simply submit myself to the process, knowing that grades, rankings, and reviews don’t define me. I can stand with confidence, knowing full well that the Creator’s vision for my life far exceeds any human opinion.

God made each of us in his image, and since he is the greatest creator, we have access to that same creativity. How do you express creativity? In meals you cook? Through fashion? Architecture or engineering? How can you use God’s confidence to cultivate your creative expression to share with the world?

Journaling prompts:

  • Where does God’s handiwork show up the most for you?
  • Think of all the ways creativity shows up in your life. Draw or list some examples.
  • If you knew you would not fail, list all the creative outlets that you would love to try—and try one!
  • How can you bring your unique expression to your daily tasks or to your work?

Find more journaling prompts in Anne Neilson’s “Angels Guided Journal,” available now.

From the book “Angels Guided Journal: An Interactive Journey to Encourage, Refresh and Inspire” by Anne Neilson. Copyright © 2022 by Anne Neilson. Published on March 15, 2022 by Thomas Nelson, an imprint of HarperCollins Christian Publishers. Reprinted by permission.

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Anne Neilson

A lifelong artist, Anne Neilson began painting with oils in 2003 and quickly became nationally renowned for her ethereal Angel Series. Neilson’s paintings are inspiring reflections of her faith. 

In 2012 Neilson self-published Angels in our Midst, her first of three coffee table books. Following its success, Strokes of Compassion and Angels: The Collector’s Edition were released. 

Neilson also owns Anne Neilson Fine Art, a gallery located in Charlotte, North Carolina. Representing more than 50 talented artists from around the world, the gallery is dedicated to being a lighthouse, illuminating the work of both emerging and established artists. 

As a wife, mother of four, artist, author, and philanthropist, Anne paints and creates with passion and purpose, always giving back to others by contributing to local, national, and international charitable organizations.