"We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character. Here again we come up against what I have called the "intolerable compliment." Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble: he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be. But over the great picture of his life—the work which he loves, though in a different fashion, as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child—he will take endless trouble—and would doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and recommenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumbnail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less."
C.S Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Karen invited me to do a guest post after a wonderful conversation we had about art and faith. Back in Baltimore, Maryland I was part of a church plant called The Light that focused precisely on this. We wove the creative expressions found typically in galleries into the church experience. Though sometimes seen in opposition, I have found that my beliefs as an artist and my beliefs as a Christian fuel one another. I love Timothy Keller’s comment, “Salvation is medicine, creativity is food.” Though I don’t believe art saves the soul, I do believe creativity serves to nourish us and often directs our attention to the deepest of questions.
As a visual artist, I see God as the ultimate creator. For me, the process of creating a painting is a conversation with God. I prayerfully create my artwork, building up layers of paint symbolically and then using knives to scrape and peel the image into full existence. It is about being worked on, open and cut. It is a way for me to listen.
This stripping-away process became even more visceral when I found myself in a small Midwestern town knowing only my husband. For the first time in my life I felt like I had come to a stop. Though I was ecstatic to be newly married to an amazing person, I was no longer surrounded by my community of encouragers. In addition to helping run a gallery and church in the city, I had been a full time art teacher and was active in a number of community art organizations and small groups. I loved doing these things, and I felt particularly accomplished when I was doing them for God. And though all these things were “good” things, God had to cut them out of my life to show me that my worth came from Him alone. If I could do nothing else with my day but pray, that was enough. I struggled with this concept for a long time after moving. During this time, painting became a way to visually experience my prayer life and allow breathing room as I waited for God’s voice and direction. It also became a way to love others as I got to share the stories and experiences behind the images.
I recently had the honor of working on a commissioned artwork based on the book of Jeremiah from the Old Testament. This was the first time I photographed my work in progress and kept track of my thought process.
As you may have gathered from the images, I enjoy the interaction of storytelling and imagery. Karen and I recently completed a collaboration that I will describe as visual storytelling. I hope she will have the opportunity to share this project with her readers in the future. Until then, if you would like to see more of my work you can visit me here.
|Worthy Words: Jeremiah|
Acrylic on Board
48" x 24"
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