Saturday, November 10, 2012

Our Abilities and Insecurities

“It matters not what my abilities may be then, provided that I possess you, Lord. Do what you will with this insignificant creature. Whether it be that I should work, or become inspired, or be the recipient of your impressions, it is all the same. Everything is yours, everything is from you and for you … Mine is to be satisfied with your work and not to demand the choice of action or condition, but to leave everything to your good pleasure.”

Jean-Pierre deCaussade, The Joy of Full Surrender

   This is one of my favorite quotes, because it speaks about the way that I want to live as an artist. As an artist, it's really easy to become drained and discouraged if my heart isn't in the right place. There have been many times where I have considered my artistic efforts to be unsuccessful because all I can focus on is how much I feel like I'm failing. The funny thing is, many times my worries don't have any basis in reality. But unless I focus on something other than my failures, the reality of my work will never be noticed by me.
   Here's one way that we can focus on something other than our failures: focus on what a blessing it is to have the artistic abilities that we do. To think, even though there are millions of people in the world, God has given each artist unique abilities. There's a key word in that: unique. It's not going to help us if we are constantly comparing ourselves to others. Each of those people who we compare ourselves to is at a different stage in their artistic development. Considering that, it's pretty foolish to compare ourselves to others.
   Whatever our abilities are, they mean nothing if we do not use them to glorify the one who gave them to us. Focusing on making my work perfect, or being as good as those as those around me, is no way to use my abilities. The only thing it's "good" for is to distract me from what a blessing all the abilities that God has given me are.
   Looking at the quote from The Joy of Full Surrender, I think that Jean-Pierre deCaussade understood the importance of putting God before insecurities. When we possess God, when He is first in our lives, we have something greater than praise from the people around us. Whether or not we are praised for our abilities, we know that we are honoring God with them. That gives us more strength than confidence in our abilites ever could.
   What can we do to make sure that we are not bogged down by our "lack of" abilities, or our insecurities? Allowing ourselves to take some time each day to spend time in the Word and in prayer really allows our minds and hearts to get in to the right place. 

One of the other things that I've been doing is printing out my favorite verses and placing them in places where I'm definitely going to see them. One of the best places I have decided to place a verse was on my pencil case.

 I hope that others find this quote as encouraging as I do. I end with a verse that I came across this morning:

"It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans."- Psalm 118:8

Monday, November 5, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph: A Review


     Wreck-It Ralph is the 52nd feature of Walt Disney Animation. I was very skeptical when I saw the first trailer, but after I saw this movie I was happy to see that my first impressions were wrong. Wreck-It Ralph is a great film, with compelling characters, beautiful settings, and a great story.
     Wreck-It Ralph is the story of Ralph, the villain of an arcade game called Fix It Felix, Jr. For thirty years, it's been Ralph's job to try to wreck the apartment house of Niceville, only to be defeated each and every time by Fix It Felix. At the end of each game, Felix gets a medal, and Ralph gets thrown off the apartment house into the mud.
      Ralph, tired of being the bad guy, game jumps into a new arcade game called Hero's Duty, in hopes of bringing a medal back to his game, and (he hopes) gain the approval of the inhabitants of Niceville. Even though he actually does get his medal, the story is only beginning. Ralph falls into an escape pod, and eventually ends up in Sugar Rush, a kart-racing game where he meets Vanellope, a game glitch and an outcast, just like him. Now, in order to get his medal back from Valleope, he must help her compete in the kingdom's race. 
       Wreck-It Ralph is a step in the right direction for Disney. One of the things that really surprised me about this movie was how the trailer didn't give away anything about what the plot was really about. I felt like the story was a lot more complex than I expected it to be. I've heard that others have said this movie had the "typical Disney ending", but I'm not entirely sure that's true. For most of the movie, I felt like I could predict what was going to happen during the climax, I thought I knew who the villain was. But during the climax, there was a major plot twist that none of us saw coming (although looking back there were a couple of hints to that twist earlier in the story). I was pleasantly surprised by it, and left the theater very satisfied, both by the plot and the villain's reveal.
      Lately, I have been dissatisfied by a trend that seems to put an emphasis on the actors starring in an animated film, as if they, not the story, should be the reason that audiences should see that film. After seeing the trailer emphasize the voice talent, I was skeptical. But I was very pleased with Wreck-It Ralph's voice casting. Unlike most other animated films, the actors all recorded their dialogue together, giving them ample opportunity for improvisation, something that made Wreck-It Ralph unique.
      Finally, the art direction and animation of this movie was absolutely beautiful, some of the best I've seen from Disney in a long time. I could get lost in looking at the amount of detail each setting provides (even more so if I was able to catch all of the video game homages that others could). My favorite environment would have to be Sugar Rush; the colors were beautiful, and the way that the artists used candy in every way they possibly could. 
      Overall, I am very glad that I decided to go see Wreck-It Ralph. It seems like Disney is putting more and more effort into making a good story with unforgettable characters. I look forward to what they produce in the future.