Gone to the Birds
Themed Shows... I deplore them and adore them.
My process usually goes something like this:
I'm not going to enter that show
I really should enter that show, but it's outside my style/niche
OK I'm going to do it
wrestle, groan, despair... whatever will I paint?!
Stare at canvas, peel old paint off my studio table, pet my cat
Begin painting, and wondering, what am I doing??
Inspiration and Discovery! Hey I have these materials & supplies I had forgotten about... maybe I can use them
Then it comes... flllooooowwwww.... ahhhhhhh!
The constraints of a themed show push me further into creativity. About six years ago, I painted a 4-piece series for a themed show. The constraints were: Each painting was to be 15x30", and it was to tell my story of how I came to know Jesus and what the result of that has been. The first painting depicts the depravity of myself, lost, hurt, alone. The second is my attempt to reach Jesus who seemed so far. The third is salvation; Jesus reaches me. The fourth is the fruit of life with Him.
When I completed the paintings, I wept. Painting my story was cathartic and beautiful. Throughout the process, the Spirit guided me, and brought greater healing. Those paintings are still some of my favorites. They hang in our hallway, a constant reminder of my journey, renewing gratitude in my heart. Because I know where I would be without Jesus... an utter mess.
The next themed show was The Art of the Book. I knew which book I wanted to portray: the Good Book. Since this was a secular show, I also knew that if I chose to do this piece, I would very likely not be accepted into the show. On an old window, I collaged the prayers of our church members. I also collaged scripture which answers all the prayers. I transformed the window into a mirror, and added a portrait of Jesus peeking through the glass. I completed it in four days. I hardly ate, and not sure if I even showered. Every morning I awoke with my assignment from the Spirit: solutions for the next step in the project. It's something I never would have done had it not been for a themed show. It is titled "The Conversation"; it was not accepted in the show. I was not disappointed. It is one of my favorite pieces and hangs in our dining room. It is a constant reminder of the faithfulness of God. He answers all our prayers. The mirrored window shows your reflection, and depending on the lighting, you might see Jesus. Another reminder, a challenge to myself... when someone sees me, am I transparent enough that they see the love of Jesus?
And now my current themed show... The Birds and the Bees. I enjoy birds, and bees for that matter. I do love honey. I know some artists who paint birds, and I love their work. Preparing for this show, I walked through the eight steps listed above. These mini paintings have not come without struggle, but I am so glad they are now here. My husband supplied the photo references for me. Fortunately for me, he takes lots of bird photos.
Birds are found throughout Scripture. In my preparation for my paintings, I poured through the books of the Bible for inspiration. I kept returning to a familiar passage, written by Matthew the tax collector. He writes that we cannot serve both God and mammon (money & possessions). Quoting Jesus, he writes:
"Therefore I tell you do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?... Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
Birds. Free to fly and to live as their Creator designed. Is life always easy for them? I would say not. But it is good. If God cares about the birds and the lilies in the field, surely He cares about you too.
These four mini paintings will join a couple more of my pieces in the Birds and the Bees Show at Madison & Main Gallery in Greeley. Opening Reception is Friday May 5, 5:30-8:30. All artwork is displayed through May & June, and is available for purchase.
I'm already thinking about what birds to paint next... or maybe some bees?