Give Me a GOOD Word or Just say Grace

Graceful Blessings

While sitting in a Bible study group the other night, I was listening to a pretty brisk discussion of the night’s topic… and watching a lot of faces that seemed to have questions on them. But not one person was asking those questions, and I wondered why.

I suddenly realized that one of the problems we have when we talk or discuss anything, is the assumption that everyone in the room has the same “meaning” applied to the words being thrown around… in their mind. We sit and we hear and we say words, and often times we think we know their meaning… in a general way at least. But we really may not understand what they mean, and are too embarrassed to ask.

Could it be that we are so familiar with “hearing” some words that we never stop and think about what its root or real meaning is? And that when we hear it used in a different setting, we are a little confused?


Let me give you an example… a while back I was demonstrating a painting and somewhere during the demo I used the word GRACE . I said ,”I want to be sure that I give grace to the painting I am going to ..blah..blah ..blah… blah.” Around three weeks later, a student came to class and said to me, “What did you mean when you said you wanted to give grace to the painting? I don’t think I’ve ever heard the word GRACE used while someone was painting.”

So I gave her a quick run down of my meaning… and while I was trying to explain what I did mean by the word GRACE, it hit me again. I had assumed they, the students, would know what the word GRACE meant …that I was using it to describe a certain movement and not as a “THING,” Verb not Noun… and that can be one of the problems with words.

The two most common uses for the word “GRACE,”for a lot of folks in our part of the country, is number one… biblical, or about saying the “blessing” or grace over a meal. But that was not what I meant at the time, although I probably did need to say “grace” over that particular “demo,”for it certainly did need a blessing said over it since it met a quick and untimely death later on in the day.

Meaning number two. A certain way someone or something acts… as in, “ She had such style and GRACE.” What I really Meant… What I was really trying to express was that I wanted them to use their brushstrokes with a certain “lightness of pressure” or to kind of “dance” the brush around the painting surface. And that , my friends, is meaning number two…a certain way someone or something acts.


“Dance” the brush… If you were hearing “dance your brush” on a tape or out of context, you might think I meant to get out your brushes and waltz around the room…

Dance your brush. So many simple words..and so many meanings to the same words in the English language and so often the same word is used to express so many different activities, situations, or emotions. Is it any wonder why words can confuse us, and even make us feel a little stupid?

So here is my simple solution to the WORD PROBLEM.
Just Go Look It Up…OR Your Mother was Right.
As the baby of four children, I learned early in life to ask questions and to
seek out help from those who were older, bigger, and wiser than me, or at
least that was what my three older siblings TOLD me nearly everyday…
day after day…

So, I never assumed I knew anything until I asked. I wasn’t dumb, but I was
probably a little lazy, so I’d just shout out and ask, “What does the word so
and so mean?” And someone in the room would usually answer by yelling
out a meaning of sorts… and it worked for me… until my Mom would overhear
a “meaning” that was a little off the chart… and then would say to me: ”GO and

Well… Then it was “Where is the dictionary?”or “HELLO MR. Webster…
here I come.” But guess what…. The truth is Mr. Webster and I began a long relationship
and still have one to this day, because I found out by “looking it up” that
not only did I learn the meaning of the word I needed to know about, but
there was always an ongoing discovery about the “roots” of words, and their

This was pretty cool since I lived in the South where we tend to use a lot of lo-o-o-g vowels and not many consonants. For instance, the word WHAT is more likely to sound like WHAAAD, as in whaaad you saaaay?

Okay, so much for the localisms, and run on sentences. Back to my point… don’t assume you understand a word’s meaning when you are reading, hearing, or writing down instructions for anything you really want to understand on a deeper level. For example, I was probably 30 before I really understood that the word “HUE “ was an artistic term …and it just kind of meant it was the color of the object… an apple is RED, and that is it’s HUE. {local color.}

If you ever study those glossaries at the end of the art books, you would find out that the study of art has a language that is it’s own, and words you commonly use may not mean the same thing as they would mean in everyday language.

So, if you aren’t sure what “ relative values, or size relationships” is .. ASK … or look it up.. ..because one thing is for sure, it’s not about your kinfolks and their lifestyles or eating habits… but it could be about comparisons
and color in the artistic composition.


Go ahead… find the dictionary. Dust it off and keep it close to your easel.
Mr. Webster is still the best and he seems to know all about words. Rebuild
that relationship you once had with him . It is such an easy thing to do… kind
of like turning on the light switch… Make it a Habit. Words make a whole lot of
sense when you know what they mean.

The Final Footnote Is This

Do not use Wikipedia instead of Webster and there is a real time reason why. To use Wikipedia you have to turn on your computer to look up the words..right? And once you have turned on the computer…well, you know the routine. A quick look at the e-mails or a little chat with an online friend. A few new and nifty things to look up while you are there, and before you know it hours go by and unless you are really disciplined, it will be a long time, if ever, til you see the painting you were working on again.

Ask..Seek… And Ye shall find…
Thanks for taking the time, and I’ll put in a good word for you.

Jamie Carter


  1. I just found you at Greeting Card Universe! I saw your first card and thought ‘How sweet!’ and from there I visited your gallery. So, you are on your way to filling up your online Gallery at GCU, I wish you well. Your artwork is truly awesome, you are Blessed!

    May I be the first to say, ‘Welcome to Greeting Card Universe’ and I’ll be checking in to see what beautiful new art you have soon!’

    Best and Blessings,
    p.s. I love your writing as well!

  2. Jamie Carter says:

    I brought this piece out of the cobwebs and updated it because it is a favorite among the viewers of the website… and often misunderstood words and explanations are frustrating and defeating for a beginning artist. I recently taught a workshop and a student told me that they understood my instructions so clearly that they had learned more in 20 minutes than they had in 2 years of college level art classes… I was very flattered but knew exactly what they meant. Sometimes lofty artistic terms are meaningless to the common laymen and need a simple explanation… leave the academia to the professors… look for the simple not the sophisticated.. your artistic skills will grow quickly.

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