I was able to get a little further last night on the as yet unnamed Family Service and Guidance painting. The imagery for this painting is inspired by a poem entitled "What is Life" written by a young girl whom also happens to be a FSGC client. I was immediately drawn to this poem written by a child who is clearly seeking wisdom and meaning to give context to her life. As always, before embarking on any new project, I had prayed and asked God to help me find a poem that would give me an opportunity to talk and paint about him. He did not disappoint!
"What is life? Why are we here? It is a question we all ask. Ask anyone, they won't know. Maybe you're here to serve others. Maybe you're here to make others laugh. Maybe you're here to be a big star. We might go to the end of the earth to know, so what is life?" - Ryleigh M.
These are lofty subjects for a young child and it was exciting to find it amongst the other children's poems. More exciting, though, is the fact that I have the answers to her questions. This painting will be an attempt to provide those answers.
Life is an amazingly precious gift from God. Despite it's priceless value, God loves us enough to allow us to do whatever WE want with our gift. He does, however, want us to do something specific with this gift. He has a special plan for it, that's why he gave it to you. It might sound confusing, but God wants us to give our life right back to him, because he will take better care of it. He also wants us to follow him, but it's our choice. If we do, he will teach us how to make the most of the gift he's given us. And when we follow him, and listen to him, and obey him, we show that we love him. And that's very important to God. He loves us SO much, and he wants us to genuinely love him back with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. And once you have a loving relationship with God, he will reveal his plan for your gift. And it will be bigger than anything you could have imagined for yourself! That can be scary, but God will help you follow the plan, make it through all the hard times, and accomplish every one of his goals. And the very best news of all is that God will give you peace and joy, along with a promise that you will be with him, physically with him, for all of eternity in Heaven.
That is what life is.
(See the finished painting)
I imagine other artists, musicians, writers, and other creative minded people can relate to this. We tend to be overly sensitive people, which is necessary in creating any kid of art. This can be a blessing and a curse, because making art is an emotional roller coaster. This piece has been a classic example of that.
This is a painting that has literally been simmering on the back-burner of my mind for over a year. It was an idea that came to me in a flash when I was working on a batch of gelatin prints that are based on the same idea. In making the prints, I had been using dozens of small triangular pieces of paper as stencils. I fell in love with the wonderful array of accidental colors, textures, and patterns that formed when these little triangles were used to resist ink from the printing plate time and time again. I immediately knew then that I would save these little gems and use them someday in a mixed media painting bearing the same imagery. So it was with a great deal of excitement that I began the painting last month and finally opened the zip lock bag full of my cherished little triangle scraps.
However, life got busy, as it often does, and I had to put this project aside for a month or so. When I eagerly returned to the project, I was positively heart-broken to discover my precious little bag of triangles was nowhere to be found. I was so intensely disappointed. I had saved those little pearls for over a year, and now they were gone. For two weeks I prayed, asked my family to pray, and repeatedly tore my studio apart hoping to find them. I did my best to keep things in perspective. A grown man making getting overly upset about a small bag of colorful paper triangles is not a very Godly example. Eventually, I accepted that they were just gone for good. I returned to the studio and prayed one last time that God will help me remember where they were, or give me direction about what to do next. I felt like I should search one last time, and in so doing came across my rather large stack of "junk prints." These were prints that had for one reason or another failed, and yet, seemed useful enough to not throw away. (Classic artist pack-rat syndrome!) It was only when I held those failed images in my hand though that I realized I could use bits and pieces from them to make NEW triangles!
So that's just what I did. I sifted through my artistic trash and found a whole new collection of tiny gems, and honestly, I like these more then the ones I had so eagerly saved last year. And it is now, as I use them to create this painting, that I am overwhelmed by the symbolism God has incorporated into the work with these little pieces of paper. We are all like these little triangles. There are none of us that are special and set apart because of who we are, what we have, or what we look like. None of us are deserving of any special status or prestige over anyone else. In fact, that kind of thinking will only lead to one thing....being lost. Instead, God favors the humble. Those that have been forgotten, spoiled, ruined. He takes our failure and sees opportunity. He takes our trash, and uses it to make something beautiful.
I've been waiting for over a year to make this painting. It's my hope that tonight, Lord willing, I will finish it.
See the finished painting.
I'm back in the studio trying to crank out some new work to submit to an exhibit coming up at Warehouse 414 called "Bold & Bright." This mixed media painting, called "All Things New," is inspired by the descriptions of Heaven and promises of God given in Revelation 21. I'm painting on a pine block and incorporating a number of hand cut stencils from a series of gelatin prints, so the piece is heavily textured with layers of paper and paint. The due date to submit work is this Friday. Nothing like a deadline to motivate yourself! Lord willing, I will get this and at least one other new piece done in time.
Contemporary christian artist creating artwork inspired by faith in Jesus Christ and a belief in the Bible.