Several years ago, I was painting live at an event in Sedona, Arizona. I had the freedom to paint anything I wanted, but I felt strongly to paint a dancer. My four children, aged between six and 12, often served as subjects in my paintings, so I organized a photo shoot to get source material. I dressed them in colorful clothes, gave them scarves to hold, and used bright spotlights on the stained cement floors for dramatic effect. I played dance music and told them to go wild and freely dance while I captured hundreds of pictures of them.
My Daughter’s Dance and Passionate Performance
I saw my daughter, Dalia, only eight then, stomping around fiercely like she was passionate about something. Fetching an old pair of my Dr. Marten combat boots, I asked her to put them on. She continued stomping around but quickly became frustrated, complaining the boots hurt her bare feet. I grabbed a pair of long white socks for her to put on, and just like that, she was back to dancing, running, stomping, and jumping around as I took pictures. I could feel something special was happening. In that perfect lighting, it felt like magic was happening.
Later, I was scrolling through all the photos on my computer when I landed on the perfect one. It was the clear winner! Dalia looked magnificently heroic. Her arms triumphantly stretched above her while she stomped out the injustice below her feet. I knew I had to paint this.
The Dance of Destiny: The Significance of a Fallen Sock
At the live event, I was right in front where everyone could watch me paint. I began with washes of acrylic, building up the background of my dancer. I added many earth tones – the colors of Sedona – into my background to set the stage for my subject. I added the darks and started blocking in Dalia's form, her dress, the boots, and the skin tone of her legs. Over the next several hours, I refined the form. I was in my zone, completely absorbed in my right brain, just enjoying the music of the event. People started coming up, asking questions, complimenting my work, and sharing how much the painting moved them.
As I was nearing the completion of the painting, a woman in her 40s came up with tears in her eyes. Her hands covered her mouth as she cried, amazed by what she saw. I felt somewhat awkward, like me standing there was a violation of a holy moment. Several minutes passed, and I became more and more uncomfortable. I didn't feel like I could continue painting. I moved to the side, allowing her to stand in front to look at the painting that was touching some deep place within her.
Mistake or Destiny? The Fallen Sock That Spoke
The woman wiped her face, pulled herself together, and started sharing her story, "This piece, this girl, it's me. I was a dancer from the time I was a little girl. I became a professional dancer and loved every minute of it. But then one morning, as I was walking to my car, I slipped on some ice and fell, breaking my leg badly. I had several surgeries and was in a cast for many months." She began sobbing, pointing to the girl in the painting with what appeared to be a white cast on her leg.
In reality, one of Dalia's socks had fallen, and the other hadn't. I had intended to paint the socks out, thinking it would make for a better piece and focus on the combat boots, but I was so in the zone I forgot to do it and followed the photograph exactly.
The woman continued her story, "After my injury, I lost my job and was too weak to continue to dance professionally. My heart was broken. I felt like my destiny was stolen from me. I was so angry with God that I haven't danced since." She continued to cry, "I have been praying lately, wondering if God was even there for me. I lost my way and wondered if God could see me." I felt a lump in my throat as she began to cry harder. She pointed to the bright white sock and sobbed, "God sees me! You painted me!"
An Unintended Symbol Ignited Renewed Purpose
She eventually pulled herself together, taking pictures of the painting, and asked me about the artwork and why I painted it. I told her I saw Dalia dancing around, stomping, and I felt there was an injustice that occurred that she was stomping out, which led me to the idea of giving her combat boots to wear in the photo shoot. I wanted to call the painting "Crossing Over" because I felt the girl had crossed over in victory. She had won something.
Identifying with the painting, she said, "That's me! I won something today by seeing this painting; I won my joy back. I'm going to dance again. I know I'm not finished, and God has something for me." We hugged and exchanged information. A week later, she contacted me to buy the painting, saying it was a reminder of her destiny and that although we may be broken, our lives still have purpose.
Walking with Destiny: Art’s Divine Role in Our Lives
This experience changed me forever. I saw the power of art. I saw the way the creative process, even the photos an artist takes, and the execution of the painting is all guided by a Divine hand that moves with us through life. This moment gave me new confidence and purpose as an artist. I knew that if I stayed sensitive to the subtle desires and inklings within me, I could help reveal the destinies that await us on canvas. It brought a whole new depth to the commissions I painted and opened a new chapter in my destiny.