You Can’t Spell Heart without Art – part II

For the second installment of the current “series” of blog posts, I’d love to explain the inspiration behind the first painted window I did – titled “hope”. Here’s a picture of the piece.

One of my favorite singer/songwriters (a genre I have much love for) is Sara Groves. I have posted about her too many times…but one of my favorite songs of hers is about hope. Last year, I went through a really rough few months struggling with depression and hopelessness. I heard this song for the first time as I was coming away from that season. I was inspired by her lyrics and the song itself.

Although I am not a musician, I have always had a passion for music. Emotions for me are really intertwined with music, so after hearing this song, I decided to literally have a hope window. Looking at it always reminds me of the song and how “hope has a way of turning its face to you, just when you least expect it.”

Here are the lyrics to the song, and I urge you to check out the link, which also has the lyrics, but will let you listen to a piece of the song.

You do your work the best that you can
you put one foot in front of the other
life comes in waves and makes its demands
you hold on as well as you’re able

You’ve been here for a long long time
Hope has a way of turning its face to you
just when you least expect it
you walk in a room you look out a window
and something there leaves you breathless
you say to yourself it’s been a while since I felt this
but it feels like it might be hope

It’s hard to recall what blew out the flame
it’s been dark since you can remember
you talk it all through to find it a name
as days go on by without number

You’ve been here for a long long time
Hope has a way of turning its face to you
just when you least expect it
you walk in a room you look out a window
and something there leaves you breathless
you say to yourself it’s been a while since I felt this
but it feels like it might be hope


You can’t spell heart without art – part 1

Warning! This is going to be a long post. As the first “installment” of the series I decided to title “You can’t spell heart without art”, I chose my favorite pieces. Because they are my favorites, I have put the most thought and heart into them, and thus – I have a lot to say about them.

Because my artwork has always been such a personal thing for me, a few pieces come out a little extra personal. Some of which I plan to never show the world. Ever. Others though, are very personal and still manage to eek out into public somehow. This set of 5 paintings is the latter. They are currently untitled because I’m not quite sure how to sum up all the emotion and love that went into these with just a word or two. Here they are all together.

The paintings are done on the pages of an old storybook, and are attached to old barn wood. The book pages are not necessarily significant, but the barn wood is. I wanted something damaged, beat-up, and dirty. I think it’s important for people to know that beauty comes from despair. It’s a lesson I have learned, and I’m sure will continue to learn. So, to turn old barn wood covered in mud into a piece of art was a way I felt I could represent that.

Each painting was inspired by one of my favorite verses from the Bible. Verses that mean a lot to me in different ways.

“gaze upon the beauty” is based on Psalm 27:4, which is “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.”

Quite a bit of my dependence on God was taught to me through my dependence on people that couldn’t handle my dependence. They were not created to fill every need in my life. I know that now, and I continue to learn from those relationships. In the midst of learning those lessons, I often find myself crying out to God just asking for stability, comfort, or strength.

If I could ask the Lord for anything, just one thing, I’m not sure I would know what to pick. This verse says, “One thing I ask of the Lord,” and that astounds me. Not only does the writer choose just one thing to ask of the Lord – who holds all in His hand – but his one request is to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. Just sitting at the feet of God, in His temple, in His time – gazing upon the beauty before him. With all my brokenness and selfishness, I pray that I will one day grasp that the one thing I need in my life more than stability or strength is to seek Him in His temple.

“sour on wings like eagles” is based on the verse Isaiah 40:31. “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
This verse is one of my favorites for several reasons. I get tired pretty quickly when it comes to most things. Whether it’s my future plans, my job, or my growth in relationships – I get tired of the waiting. I catch myself thinking that I’m stuck and I get so tired of being stuck. Isaiah tells me otherwise. This verse tells me that I am not stuck; I am soaring on wings that the Lord gives me through hope. If I can keep my eyes hoping in the Lord, I will not grow weary, I will not be faint, I will soar on wings like eagles.
“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 3:17-19

That verse really hits me. A love that surpasses knowledge. A love that can fill me with the measure of all the fullness of God. A love that is so amazing I have to have the power of all the saints to understand it. And that’s the love that He’s giving away. No effort on my part, no amount of studying, no natural ability will bring me any closer to understanding why God loves me the way He does. But He loves me in such a powerful way. His love is wide. His love is long. It is high, and it is deep.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
Jeremiah 29: 11-14

One of the things I find about myself to be a stumbling block is my constant wandering, as I affectionately call it. I am always looking for a better situation, the next step, or the newest accomplishment. I have a hard time being content where I am. I always think that if I could just do this thing, then life would be better.

What I love about this verse, specifically, is the phrase, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.” I am a wanderer at heart and whatever it is that I’m constantly looking for – all the man-made splendor of society – is rubbish compared to what I truly should be seeking. So, instead of seeking the world with a half-hearted effort, God tells me to seek Him. With all my heart. And there, I will be content.

This painting, “from the fullness of His grace” is based on the verse John 1:16. I have blogged about my love of this verse before – and that is actually what inspired me to do this set of paintings. Here is the link to the post talking about this verse and its significance to me.

Well…that is the first installment of “You can’t spell heart without art”. Stay tuned for more. I’ll give you a few days to read part one, since it’s so dadgum long.

Inspiration and Validation

Express was amazing. Thanks so much to all of you for supporting me in my venture into public creativity. It was a definite challenge, but I pulled through as a better person, I think. Taking what is normally such a personal thing for me and putting it literally on display for hundreds of people to see was no small thing. All of your words of encouragement and prayers have not gone unnoticed. So…thanks!

The festival was finished around 4:30 on Sunday afternoon, and I had such a sense of calm after it was all over. I felt inspired by the number of artists coming together over the act of worshipping through art, I felt validated in a strange way, and I had some really amazing bonding time with people I had never met before as we discussed my most personal artwork. I hope to be involved next year as well – and I will have (hopefully) grown a lot as a person and as an artist.

Here are a few pictures from Sunday. In the next few days I’ll post a few pictures of specific artwork from my booth as well as some detail about how each piece is an act of worship to the true Creator.

Here’s Amanda (who was kind enough to let me use her camera!) checking out my booth.
Although Dave was having a little fun playing with the settings on the camera, this was the best photo we got of the hallway where the artist booths were set up.

Here I am in with the artwork. Not pictured, the amazing boots I borrowed to wear Sunday.

Where did April go?

Well – for heaven’s sake, we’re halfway through April and I am just now posting the first blog of the month. Does this point to a lack of focus? Surely not.

Though I have slacked on my duties to the blog, I have been quite focused and motivated to get some artwork done in time for the Art Festival this weekend (eep!). So things have been a little hectic around the apartment… and my car… and work. Not to mention getting ready to move (which has only been mentally hectic, no physical actions have been taken as of yet) and some surprise back pain which made nearly all physical activity impossible. That was fun. (Turns out I have scoliosis, with a couple vertebrae trying to twist around backwards that must have pinched a nerve cluster or something…very exciting stuff.) I did get a lot of time to read, though. And I even tried painting from the lying down position – like my good friend, Michelangelo. He must have had much larger biceps than I. My arms were getting very tired after the second canvas. But, all that lying down time did help my creative juices, surprisingly, and I’ve done some artwork that I’m pretty proud of this week. Since I currently do not have a digital camera, I can’t post any pictures of the newest pieces. Maybe I can find a friend with a nice camera to get some fun pictures of my work and the art festival this weekend and I’ll hopefully be able to post about that next week.

Now that I’m back on my feet (literally) I have a feeling that in the next few days things are going to get very artsy around here.