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Oil paints

Oil Paint and Relationship Glue

Relationship glue is crafted in the art studio of life.

“What did she use this time?” The kind man who cleans my white carpets squats down to inspect the splashed rainbow of glue and paint.

“Acrylic and oils.” I show him the finished masterpiece displayed on the easel above the carpet’s danger zone. 

He nods appreciatively, and from his arsenal of stain removers, sprays over the area what I assume to be an anti-acrylic and an oil neutralizing solution.

“You must see this kind of cleanup project a lot in your business.” I think of the dropped plate of spaghetti he cleaned last time he was here.

“Not like this.” He gives the fading spot a thorough scrub. “Backed up toilets, pet stains, and shoes that should have been left at the door.” 

I nod because he has cleaned all those at my house, too. And I remember when my young daughter showed me her painting. Her face had been alight with the artistic freedom that comes when her hands have translated her heart to canvas. Just as much paint lay on the carpet below and as she followed my gaze, she was incredulous. 

“Sorry, Mom, I didn’t see that.”

Home Is An Art Studio

Of course not. Nor did she remember to use a drop cloth the three times before. Which is how I have gotten to know the carpet cleaning guy well enough that he took one of our kittens home to his family. 

Home is the art studio for life. And like all art studios, they are creatively messy, reflecting developing people, talents, and relationships. There is a tension between keeping a tidy house and using the living areas for – well – living. 

The mother of Orville and Wilbur Wright commonly directed family and guests to eat meals in the living room since the dining room table was spread with the brothers’ latest invention. Because Mrs. Wright designated space for her children to test ideas, Orville and Wilbur turned the possibility of flight into reality. That mother’s legacy outlives her for all of history because she gave wings to her sons long before they learned how to fly.       

Our Creator, God surrounds us with opportunity to create beauty. By extending to one another big and small acts of kindness, respect, and thoughtfulness on a consistent basis during good times and challenging days, people form relationship glue, those touch points that hold us together despite crisis and through celebrations. Those connections, poignant moments, and laughing-until-milk-comes-out-our-nose form a shared history and confirm that we belong. Together. 

We are most like God when we create and forgive. When we paint with abundantly broad strokes of grace and love, we form relationship glue.

Recently, I set up an easel and painted a canvas alongside my daughter. We listened to music and talked while mixing and spreading paint. Hours later, we had created some relationship glue completed two paintings that had not existed that morning.

“Come,” I called to the other kids. “Look what I did.” 

“Nice.” My son gazed at the previously white carpet below my easel. Blue paint the color of the Atlantic and yellow the shade of sand lay splattered below my project.

I called the carpet-cleaning guy.

For more vignettes into family life, see The Ten Best Decisions A Single Mom Can Make by Pamela Farrel and PeggySue Wells.

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Meet PeggySue

We’ve heard of soccer moms and stage mothers. I’m a writer who trailers my kids and horses across the nation. My Apple computer, fondly christened MacBeth, is the essential I bring along.