"God's art [Creation] speaks of Himself, reflecting who He is and what He is like."
Francis Chan

Monday, November 16, 2009

Soon...and Very Soon

I wanted to turn my attention away from the paintbrush and canvas this week to another area that gives me tremendous inspiration - music. Like art, music was something that I grew up surrounded with. Singing is something that has been a huge part of my life since I was very young.

As I got older, and became a Christian, I found songs to be the way to express my gratitude to the One who saved me and to tell others about Him. I can think of very few things that I take more pleasure in than opening my mouth and letting out my heart through song. It seems like music has been one of the main ways in which God has always helped me through difficult times in my life. I often think of the verse in Psalm32:7 "You are my hiding place. You shall preserve me from trouble. You compass me about with songs of deliverance."

About four or five years ago we discovered a lump in my neck that the doctors felt pretty sure had all the signs of being thyroid cancer. The tumor was about the size of a golf ball and was causing some discomfort for my breathing and a strain on my vocal chords. Cancer or not, it had to go. I have to tell you that I felt such a peace about it possibly being the "C" word. It was the lyrics to one of my favorite songs that instantly brought me that peace. In the last verse of "In Christ Alone" it says:

No guilt in life, no fear in death
this is the power of Christ in me.
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

When I met with the surgeon for a consultation before surgery I had absolutely no fear of dying. However, when the doctor told us this is a simple procedure with very few expected complications - unless of course, you happen to be a singer.... I felt panic sweep over me. He went on to tell us that they would have to remove most or all of the thyroid which has a tiny nerve that runs right through it that connects to the vocal chord. Most people would not notice any difference. However cutting that delicate nerve would basically ruin your singing voice. I was in shock. I sat in the doctors office and cried for over an hour. (He was an extremely kind and patient doctor!)

But as I prepared over the next two weeks for the surgery, I began to feel even a peace about that. I thought about Job and all of his trials that made my little issue seem very insignificant. And what was Job's reaction to God allowing the things he loved most in this world to be taken away?

"Though He slay me, yet will I praise Him" Job 13:15

Right before surgery I wrote the prayer of my heart in the front of my Bible - God, it's your voice to give and to take at Your will. I just ask that if You choose to take my voice You will give me another way to praise You."

It was the music of Selah that really got me through that time also. The words to "Be Still My Soul" reminded me...

"Be still my soul, the waves and winds still know - they still know - His voice, that ruled them while He walked below."

I'm happy to report that God faithfully brought me through and guided the surgeon's hands. They only had to take half of my thyroid to get the lump and missed the snip of the delicate nerve. I'm so thankful for His grace.

I have someone very dear to me that is waiting this week for what may be some very bad news. The stakes for her are far bigger than not being able to sing. I can only imagine what she is going through as she waits to hear. I have been praying for her and it seems like I find myself once again finding comfort (for her and for those of us who love her) in the lyrics of a song. The song is called "Soon" by Brooke Fraser and I recently had the honor of singing it at a women's ministry night. It is a reminder to those of us who know what it means to have the horrible things that we've done forgiven by a holy God because of His Son's love and sacrifice. It is a reminder that this is not our home and that someday soon and very soon we will stand before our God in our true home in heaven and lift our hands and endlessly sing His praise. The question I guess, is what "soon" means for each of us. Five years ago, for me, it wasn't my time - but my time will be soon, whether it's a year from now or thirty years from now. For the one that I am praying for right now - she may well receive the news that her time is truly soon. But there is no fear in that! There is excitement and joy, and knowledge that all of God's people will be together in Heaven...soon.


Soon and very soon, my King is coming - robed in righteousness and crowned with love
When I see Him, I will be made like Him - soon and very soon
Soon and very soon, I'll be going - to the place He has prepared for me
All my sin erased - my stains forgotten - soon and very soon

I will be with the One I love - with unveiled face I'll see Him
And my soul will be satisfied - soon and very soon
I will be with the One I love - in endless song I'll praise Him
And my soul will be satisfied - soon and very soon

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Little Picasso

Okay, it happened. It was inevitable. It could have been a lot worse, I suppose. But it still wasn't the best thing to happen. You may have even guessed what I'm referring to...Sophia has discovered a love of art! Unfortunately, she expressed her creativity all over the two projects that I was working on at the moment. Let me back up a moment.

Sunday (our day of rest...ha ha) was extremely busy. We had been running all day and as happens more often than not, we all were going in different directions for a short time and I had only one older child able to watch Sophie for the hour or so that we would be gone at Victoria's basketball game. The older child will remain nameless at this point, but suffice to say, they apparently got distracted from their babysitting duties. Fast forward to 6:20 pm - we are running late for the small group that we are attending that night. I stop into the office because I see a light that needs to be turned off. The light happened to be my art desk light. Strange, I hadn't even been painting that day. That's when I saw it. The two paintings that I posted about in "Frustrations of a Multi Tasker " were covered in all sorts of abstract designs, using the last paint that I happened to have used - bright red and fuchsia!

I was too stunned at first to do anything but yell for Craig, my husband, who thought I must be having a heart attack or something. He, of course was less than pleased with the nameless older child responsible for watching Sophie. Sophie knew she was in trouble because we have had the "Mommies paints are a no no" conversation everyday for the last two or three months.
But it was bound to happen sooner or later because Sophie is a sinner susceptible to temptation just like me and because - darn it, who can resist those beautiful colors!

I am counting myself fortunate. I have a friend, Charles Frietag, who is an incredible artist that was commissioned to paint the official portrait of the then Governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsak. You guessed it...his then two year old snuck down into his studio and painted over - of all things - the Governor's face! (Perhaps he had underlying grievances with the Governor's politics?)
My little Picasso did much less damage.

To be honest, I wasn't even that upset. I even laughed about it as I was retelling it to our small group later that night. I think it was a laugh or cry situation. The good news is, the paint was still fresh enough that I was able to scrape some of the globs of red and pink off and then take mineral spirits and lightly rub off a lot of the rest. The Fuchsia Peony took the brunt of it, as the "like" colors sort of mushed together to make a muddy look. But time and a little repainting in spots can heal all painting goobers (or so I am hoping.) In the end, they are just paintings and by no means priceless master pieces. All is well. I just wish that I had had the foresight to think to take pictures of Sophie's paintings. I'm thinking that in years from now when we are reminiscing over funny family moments that will definitely go down as one.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Paintings of Daniel Keys

This blog was created with two things in mind - to remind us who is the Creator that gives us each the ability to create and to share anything that personally inspires me in hopes that it will inspire others. My subject today fits both descriptions. I ran across the paintings of Daniel Keys (his painting entitled "Azaleas" is to the left) while reading the art magazine American Artist a few months ago. I loved the colors that he uses and the soft appearance of his work. I think they are just beautiful.
What really got me excited was to see the background behind the painter. Daniel Keys is a young man (in his early twenties, I believe). He is self taught. He was homeschooled all of his childhood which gave him the freedom to explore and grow in his love for and talent in art. More importantly, he was raised in a Christian home and unabashedly gives God the glory for his abilities. I always am excited to see that and find it tremendously inspiring. All of his paintings are meant to remind the viewer of "God's love for all good things" (quoted from "About the Artist" on Daniel's web site).
After Daniel appeared in American Artist (his painting also appeared on the cover), he has become quite well known. It seems like I see his name everywhere in the art magazines and websites that I frequent. I have found myself praying for him at times as I would imagine that being suddenly in the limelight would be a bit overwhelming. I pray that he would be strengthened in his faith to be able to maintain his wonderful witness for the Lord and always remember to continue to give His God the glory.
I encourage you to check out more of his amazing work. You can find his paintings at www.danielkeysfineart.com or follow his blog that includes his newest paintings at www.danielkeys.blogspot.com.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Frustrations of a Multi Tasker

Creatively speaking, this has been a frustrating week. I have been thinking a lot about time - and the lack there of that I have. As you will notice from the picture to the far left, I haven't really gotten much done on my latest painting. I have a deadline of mid December and had great aspirations this week of getting a really good start on it...but that's not really what happened.
I hear about all of these artists who have do the "painting a day" thing. A painting a day? You've got to be kidding me? They must be incredible organizers to find the kind of time to do that. And apparently I am not. Last Monday I had a plan in my head on how far I wanted to get in my "poppy" painting. Here is how it actually went...
Monday - I worked on the background, laying in splashes of Prussian Blue, Burnt Umber, and French Ultra Marine. So far so good. I was determined to paint even though I woke up with an eye infection that required me to wear a patch over my eye to dull the irritation to light. I looked ridiculous (like a painting pirate), and really gave myself a headache trying to focus with one eye.
Tuesday - Got a little more done between running my daughter to choir class that she takes at the public school, dealing with a two year old that wants to paint too, and working a couple of hours at our company.
Wednesday - Well, Wednesday is laundry day around here - need I say more? Seven loads of laundry done -zero painting.
Thursday - Fairly profitable. I put on a second layer of my background, adding some highlighted areas with the Prussian Blue and Titanium white, doing lots of blending to get that soft look I am looking for. I began to add the Sap Green to the stems to help me better see where the shadows and highlights will go.
Thursday was also a chance to return to another painting that I had set aside for some drying time. It is the Fuchsia Peony posted at the top. Now that some of the base layers were a little more dry I could begin glazing and doing soft blending. I am fairly happy with the direction that this painting is going, however, there are a few problem areas that I need to work out.
Friday - Yes! The Weekend. I was ready to set aside the school books and the office paperwork and paint all weekend. Okay, maybe in a perfect world. Friday was a less than perfect homeschool day, spent trying to catch up on stuff not completed after a less than perfect homeschool week. Plus more laundry, and grocery shopping, and trying to convince Sophie that yes, she was tired and needed a nap.

Saturday and Sunday - The dream was still alive - there was still that idea that I would have hours upon hours of free time to brush away...Until I fell into bed Saturday night after a day filled with early morning Bible study groups, soccer games out in the cold, running kids to basketball practices, clothes shopping for kids who were outgrowing everything, and Sunday afternoon family lunch preparations. Sunday afternoon (after the family lunch) I looked out the window to see all of our leaves blowing into the neighbors perfectly manicured yard and realize - I would be wielding a rake that afternoon, instead f a paint brush. When I finally do get to my art area to paint at about 9:30 Sunday night, I had one intention - to really focus on those stems. Wouldn't you know it - I tell you know lies - I was down to scraping Sap Green out of the tube. Guess I would have to squeeze in a trip to the art supply store on Monday before I could go any further.

Don't get me wrong, I really am not complaining. I love my crazy, busy life. I love all of the kids activities, and the time we spend together learning during our school days. I love serving them by keeping house. Okay I don't love laundry - I can't lie about that one. But generally speaking I have a great life.

Someday, I will get up in the morning and find that I have all the time in the world to paint. This isn't that season of my life. Of course my husband reminds me that with our youngest being a two year old, that season may not come until we are almost sixty! But that's okay.
For now I am thankful at the few minutes I can steal in my day to paint while the baby is playing and the other kids have gotten their assignments and are working on homework. I remind myself that creating isn't just done on a canvas. My whole home is a canvas needing to be painted with beauty and warm meals and even clean laundry. And my kids' childhoods are canvases needing to be painted with good memories. So onward I go with the multi tasking juggle. And I will be thankful for the times, no matter how small, that I get a chance to handle the paintbrush.


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