Friday, November 25, 2011

If My Peers are The Standard...

After the Dance
 Competition is a funny thing; it can be subtle, nearly undetectable, like natural gas without the ‘funk’ additive. J It sneaks up on you, especially when your aim is to live your life on your own terms. Not everyone lives with a ‘scarcity mentality,’ that is, a belief that there’s only a short amount of ______ to go around. A classic example from my past is high school and college art courses. In Still Life 1 (too long ago to be sure if that was a title), we came into the classroom and the teacher arranged a boot, a glass vase, a gourd and a plastic apple and orange, on a table. Our assignment was to draw the images. In a classroom with artists skilled in hand-eye coordination, in an hour’s time, they were finished, including shading, highlights and rendering the various textures. But there were other students who, in an hour’s time, were struggling to round the orange, or they somehow had the boot looking like a swatch of cowhide. But there was a third group: the students who were making a valiant effort, with the shining example of the first group as their model. They had erase marks on paper, a look of determination and frustration on their brow, but they were faring “better” than the second group.

And so it goes: competition without really trying. I recall folks showing up with a number 2 pencil and believing that to be sufficient. It was and can be. But when they would see me with my set of pencils with designations from 4H to 4B, a pink pearl eraser and maybe a kneaded eraser; you could see that sense of self-esteem slip a bit. But I wasn’t the standard and truthfully, I was striving to reach the standard others were setting. I watched them, bodies relaxed, yet focused on the task, confidence shining like a silver knight’s armor. I wanted to be one of them.

I’m not sure if it’s the “times” or a movement that seems to be happening “right now,” but for me, my life is ordered by a higher direction. Certainly, I may look at the work of a Serge Kponton, or Matthew Ivan Cherry and think “I wish I could render the way he does,” but most of the time, I hear someone who seems to direct my work in other ways. I am not instructed to “do it just like him or her” but to allow my mind, my body and my soul to receive what is there and to render as He directs. It’s a beautiful thing!

My peers…they aren’t the standard any more. There is one who directs my steps and he is more than a standard; he’s my muse and spirit of abundance.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Clarity’s Call

Clear Channel
This is a repeating theme, but as additional definition and shape come forward, I have to share. I’ve looked at the body of my expressive work, the work that some would call abstract. I’ve considered the ‘naming’ process, especially when I think of musicians like Pat Metheny and Bob James, Roy Hargrove and Joshua Redman. That way you contemplate what is being said “here.” Sitting at work with a piece, I search for the message it seems to convey. And clarity comes through.

There are times I see fine details in a painting before I touch brush to canvas. A response, an answer to a problem I didn’t know existed. Clarity. At times, it’s the simple bob of my head to a song I hear adds to the joy experienced in these precious moments. Moments become eternity when things are made clear.

Love guides my hand; it is both a response and a call. Love motivates me to write and give further light to the subject of my renderings. So sacred are these glimpses into eternity, I would be remiss if I didn’t share the Love. So I paint, sometimes I grab a pencil and sketch, or a pastel and allow the intense colors to draw lines from me to God and back again.

My friends, this is my sharing. This is my heart given to you. Allow the light of God to guide you and reshape you.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Declarative Statement

Shaken Up!

It’s important to make your statement.

I know I’m not alone when I say this, but more often than not, I wonder what difference my contribution to the world makes. Do I have an impact? Will the lack of response from those who see my words and images prevent me? 

And when I sit to draw or paint or write, no visible or audible audience is near, and yet I express myself, regardless. And yet, there is an unseen audience that hears, sees, and inspires what is said and rendered. Who is my audience? I’ve asked that question, trying to determine who to ‘target’ for the work. Well, if I take Jesus at his word, then this is my audience: “But I, when I’m lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:32)

This isn’t a declaration of the Christian message in plain text. No, this is declaration of the supremacy of God as the creator of all things. I don’t deny my faith in Christ or his deity. I don’t deny that I believe he upholds, holds together, all things by the word of His power.  And yet, though he does this, I know he is intimately involved in my life. He brought me back to my calling, the expression of creativity. He has expanded that expression with words as well.

Sometimes I wonder if others understand; concerned with clarity I do a great deal of editing and withholding. I think I’m somehow ‘responsible’ for YOUR understanding. Then I remember years of underground work done in my life. When I was busy raising children, earning money, and working in ministry, and felt completely helpless, God was doing work that others could not see. While I was depressed to the point of suicide because I didn’t feel like I was being heard or was making a difference in the world, God continued to listen as well as express his love for me. I will continue to express myself in the unique way God has gifted me. Someone, somewhere and somewhen, is listening. They are listening, they are watching and the message is sinking so deep in their soul that the only way they can respond is by the grace of God as he works secretly, underneath the surface of their conscious. His work is never in vain!

Friday, November 4, 2011

It's Okay...We'll Take Our Time

I pulled out a charcoal sketch I begin a year ago. As it often is, I start things on what some would call a ‘whim,’ a quick thought or near gut reaction. I took the time after the last time I worked on it, to spray a workable fixative on it, so as not to smear it and just in case I wanted to finish it. Following that ‘gut’ again, I took it out of the case where I keep my work, taped it to my easel, fully intending to return to it today.

Before long, it was time to start dinner. I’m no cook and certainly don’t prepare dinner often enough to be quick about it, so as usual it took some time before dinner was done. As a matter of fact, I had just put the tilapia in the oven when my wife made it home from work. Oh well, so much for having dinner on the table.

Plan B: get back to the charcoal sketch, put finishing touches on two paintings and revel in my success. Plan C: sit back and wonder where the time and energy went. Plan C got a unaminous vote. It’s late, I’m tired, and I’m awake in less than 5 hours. I’m calling it a night. But sitting up looking at the sketch, I realized I had areas of detail to be worked out and like finding a treasure buried in sand, getting that detail out will take some time. In the moment I realize I don’t have a deadline. I also came to realize this: the discovery is not in the destination (reward) but in the journey (effort).

I know how it easy it is to be focused on the other side of an equation. You know 2+2=4 or man+woman=romance; we spend a lot of time looking at the right side of the equal sign and want to rush to get to it. But…