Mark Ballard

Sharing our progressions in life

Years ago, I was painting a mural on the ceiling of an office building. I was up on scaffolding the entire time I worked on it. Every day various groups of people stopped by to the see the progress. They stared in amazement as if I was a magician performing on stage. It was a little unnerving.

I was taught from an early age in my art classes to never show my artwork until I was finished with it and completely satisfied. I never quite understood why I wasn’t supposed to share it but tried to follow this rule.

In art college, I definitely kept my projects top secret after making the mistake of sharing my solution to an assignment with my fellow classmates. I found out the hard way when my ideas were copied in class. From that point on, I shared nothing until my teacher saw it first.

I have always been a person who, by nature, enjoys sharing. When I was younger I would show whatever I was currently working on with my mother. Many times, she didn’t understand what was going on in its incomplete state, but always appeared very interested even though her face sometimes betrayed her confusion. After I married, my wife became my go-to for many years when I was a young artist trying to make a living in a very competitive market.

Many years passed and then something magical happened. The world was handed to us in the form of Facebook and Instagram. Those of you who follow me on either of these social media platforms know I have thrown caution to the wind and share the process of my creations on an almost daily basis. Each time I post something, I can hear all my professors’ voices screaming in unison in my head, “Mark, what are you doing?”

So far, I haven’t been turned into a pillar of salt or, to my knowledge, plagiarized. What has happened is my platform to share the magic of art has become much larger and the results have been very rewarding for me and my followers.

I have most often shared progress shots of things I was working on for me, but lately I’ve asked the people who commission something from me if they want to see the stages of their pieces in the making. Surprisingly, most of them do. The days of dramatically unveiling a painting on an easel are mostly over. People like seeing the stages of the process. They enjoy watching the magic.

Considering this the other day, I began to think about the process of life. Just as with artwork, we all start with a blank canvas and slowly add elements as we age to our life canvas. There are some things in life we can alter and some we can’t. But it’s all part of the creative process of living.

We are constantly sharing daily pieces of our life with others. We share the things we are going through, the mistakes we make and the lessons we learn in the process to become our best selves. Just by living, each of us is a continuous work in progress. People see us at our worse and best and everywhere in between, but each part adds another layer to our life painting.

I’ve learned when we are willing to share pieces of our lives with others, it can help them. Just like sharing the stages of my artwork allows others to see how important each change is to the completed picture, sharing pieces of our lives have the potential of helping others who may be going through a similar situation. Without even knowing it, we may help someone else find the missing piece they’ve been looking for to solve their life puzzle.

I will continue to share the step-by-step progressions of my drawings and paintings even though I was taught not to. I will also share the stages of my life with others —the good, the bad and the ugly. People love making a connection with someone else going through a similar situation. It lets us know we are not alone. All of us are humans simply striving to create a better life and it’s always a good idea to share!

Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email; follow him at creates; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.