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  • Writer's pictureLisa DuBois

Finding Serendipity

Serendipity is defined as a chain of events that works in a favorable way. For me, finding serendipity is listening to the whisper of God as He lights my path, one step at a time. He works all things for good for those who love Him.

Is it odd to say God talks to me? It doesn't feel odd to me, as He has been doing it all my life. He doesn't speak aloud, except for one time when He really wanted to get my attention, but that's a story for another time.

When God speaks to me, it is more a sensation or a thought that I know did not originate with me.

A few months ago, as I was praying and meditating about where to go with my art, I felt God say, "draw near to me". That phrase is found in scripture (James 4:8), where God invites us to open our hearts more to Him, and He will come closer to us. For me that day, it was an invitation to commune with God more deeply in my art. It was God's idiomatic direction for me to set down my paintbrushes for a season and to pick up my pencils, charcoals, and ink pens.

graphite portrait of an elderly woman
Portrait: Age Study

It's been very satisfying but not without frustration. God promises to work all things out for good, but He doesn't promise it will be easy.

My artwork inventory is quite low, and I was feeling the pressure of needing to produce paintings for the gallery, to do that unwritten law of contemporary artists, which is to produce art then sell it.

Foreshortened from below, a graphite portrait of a man in anguish.
Portrait: When Your Team Loses

I had the choice whether to follow God's direction, or to toil in my own strength, which would produce unfruitful paintings that would suck the joy out of my art. I have enough gray hairs on my head to have the wisdom to follow God's direction. He never promises it will be pain-free, but He does promise that there is a reason for it and He will be with me every step of the way.

Graphite portrait sketch of a young brunette woman with her hair pulled up.
Portrait: Inner Thoughts

I kept drawing portraits. Almost daily, I would produce a new one. One by one, I put my gifts and skills together. I couldn't wait to draw every day. I studied other artists, and I studied faces and anatomy. I love how the light hits the planes of the face, and how a mark here and a dab there can change an expression from ennui to engaging.

pen and ink portrait of a black woman wearing glasses listening to music in her earbuds
Portrait: Can You Feel the Music?

Finding Serendipity in the Everyday

Finding serendipity is elusive. If I were to pursue serendipity, it would dissolve. It is like trying to catch a cloud. But if I listen to that still, small voice that provides a light to my path, then step by step, I find my way. Serendipity is curated in the everyday efforts of walking in the peace of doing the thing that is set before me.

Photo of hands uplifted, palms up, holding a strand of twinkle lights
Lord, may You bless the work of my hands

Finding Serendipity in Hands

Hands also hold a special interest to me. I can remember waaaayyy back to my dating years, I would take notice of the hands of a prospective boyfriend. Hands were an important deciding factor about whether I would consider dating him. They shouldn't be too perfect, but they shouldn't be grimy either. They also had to be the right shape, I can't really explain it, but I knew the hands I did and didn't like.

Hands are as unique as faces. Hands tell the story of your life. The human hand is a masterpiece of design, functionality, and beauty. Artistically speaking, I find them even a greater challenge to draw than faces.

Because we see hands and faces every day, we can immediately recognize something "wrong" about a drawing or painting where the proportions are off. An incorrect placement of any element of the face or the hand can ruin an otherwise perfectly rendered drawing. Unless, of course, the artist is intentionally using abstraction, distortion, or exaggeration in the artwork. I have a few favorite artists who do just that, and their work is sublime.

Drawing Hands by MC Escher
One of my favorites: Drawing Hands by MC Escher

Finding Serendipity Through Practice

The work of an artist is continual problem-solving. Before I even select the size and substrate of my next piece, I am asking: How do I want the finished piece to look and feel? How will the viewer engage with the artwork? What emotions does it invoke? What do I want to say without saying it overtly, so that the viewer can create their own connection to my artwork?

Serendipity is defined as a chain of events that works in a favorable way. Serendipity is that first hand-hold in love. It's that moment when two hands find each other, in mutual trust. The chains of events in two separate lives has now begun to write a story together. I can remember the serendipitous thrill from more than 30 years ago, of holding the hand of the man who became my husband. We've been holding hands ever since.

Charcoal drawing of two hands clasped finger by finger
Serendipity, charcoal on canvas, 15x30"

My latest piece, Serendipity, was months in the making, and yet just days in the studio. A long chain of events, from my art training of long ago, to my more recent pursuit of drawing humanity, came together through practice and problem solving.

One of the problems I chose to solve was how to create a drawing in charcoal without having to mount it behind glass. I love the intimacy of viewing artwork, and if I can remove the barrier of glass between the viewer and the artwork, I will find a way to do it. I have found a process where I can apply layers of charcoal onto a stretched canvas, then seal it as safely as any of my acrylic paintings.

I look forward to exploring this style more. I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. This piece is 15x30" on canvas, and will be on display and available for purchase at Lincoln Gallery in February for the TVAL Member Show. Please join us February 9 for our Opening Reception. Doors open to the public at 7pm. See you soon!

You are a masterpiece.

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