Imagination can make your day more interesting, and even help you perform tasks better. Just this weekend I was attempting to sketch a statue from a picture on my laptop. The picture on my screen showed the face of Michelangelo’s David, but the picture on the paper in front of me looked more like a comic book villain. I grabbed another sheet of paper and started again, but this time, with imagination. If you ever find yourself trying to draft a likeness of a Renaissance masterpiece, I recommend you imagine something like this, too.
You are not a bored American college student leisurely drawing in your room. You are living in early 16th century Italy. You are from a small villa in the central part of the peninsula. You have been sent to Florence by your family to pay a creditor or some such errand. Your family – in fact, your entire villa is very excited for you because you have the privilege of seeing some of the greatest artwork and buildings in the country. As you leave your home, person after person tells you to remember every amazing sight you see, and if possible, to draft some copies of the best art pieces so that you can describe and show them the wonders of world on your return.
Jump forward a bit in time; your errand is completed, and you are walking around a corner into a public square. At the other end is the imposing Palazzo Vecchio (the old palace). Standing in front of the entrance to the palace is Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of David. The statue is seventeen feet tall, perfectly life-like, and breathtaking. You somehow know that even 500 years from now this statue will be known as the single greatest work of art attempted by any one human being in the entire course of history. And your hometown certainly needs a sketch of it. You find a spot to sit, find your trusty piece of red chalk, and begin sketching.
If you imagine all this as you start to draw, it’s no surprise you’ll get a better likeness. Of course, mine still wasn’t perfect, so I kept telling myself this imaginative tale:
You’re still sitting in the plaza, quietly sketching. Pigeons strut about looking for crumbs as a bell tower dully chimes the hour. Your drawing is looking fair enough, but you still wish it truly captured the essence of the masterwork in front of you. As you stare at your crudely-bound sketch book, you notice the shadow of a person standing behind you. You can see the silhouette of his face; a prominent scruffy beard sticks out from under a distinctive broken nose.
“The eyes could use a little work there, lad,” says a voice that reminds your present-day self of Charlton Heston.
“Oh,” you reply “I guess I’m just drawing it a little quickly, sir. I’ve spent a few minutes on it.”
“Is that so? Well, I was a little rushed, too, I only had three years to carve it,” says the man, you now realize is Michelangelo himself. “Go ahead, spent that extra few minutes on your drawing.”
It’s likely your drawing will be improved if you imagine such a situation. Or better yet, just remember that you should be working for God in whatever you do, not men.