My older daughter and I have spent the past few weeks reading creation myths from different cultures. Most of us are raised with a single creation myth, a story that gives us a sense of where we came from, of life’s origins. It can be religious, scientific, grand, existential, or a bit of everything. Eventually this story gives way to the realization that the world is a bigger and more complex place, and that different people have different ideas about How It All Began.
As a way of giving ourselves a better understanding of the Hebrew creation myth, she and I decided to use watercolors to illustrate the division of light and darkness. It didn’t go as smoothly as either of us anticipated it would. I’m afraid my daughter has inherited a perfectionist gene, and I know from my own experience how perfectionism can thwart artistic endeavors. Sometimes the paint didn’t act how she expected, or she found my work more to her liking, and it soured her on her own painting.
But this gray cloud did come to have a silver lining. As we finished our paintings, a light came into her face as she looked at what she’d done. It may have been that we were painting about a story having to do with making something out of nothing, or the simple fact that my daughter realized the power of the artist to do just that—to create. I knew that a bit of the original spark that started everything was in her when she looked up and asked, “What should we create now?”