Thursday, September 19, 2013
I started this project at the beginning of summer. It was one of those paintings that the idea came to me instantly and therefore you think it is just going to practically paint itself. It was very clear in my mind the idea that I wanted to convey - a sunflower being blown back and forth in a strong wind. But when the first few layers were laid down, the painting just didn't seem to be falling together as I had seen it in my mind. It was a frustrating experience that caused me to lay it aside for over a month. every time I walked by it I was dissatisfied with it.
Other things seemed to occupy my time and mind this summer. It has been a summer filled with lots of change and struggle and turmoil. The thoughts that filled my days this summer consisted of questions like ' What do you do when life throws you a curve ball you weren't expecting?' and ' When life leads you down an unexpected road, one I would probably have preferred not to have gone down, do I still hold on to the beliefs that have in the past been rock solid? Or do I throw in the towel and say I give up, what's the use?'. This has been for me, and my family, a summer of turmoil.
It was in the middle of all of these questions and struggles that two things happened. One I stepped back into my little art studio and stood before this painting that had given me earlier grief. I looked at it for a good three days and realized that the idea for the sunflower being battered and tossed around by the wind felt very much like the summer I was having. I have seen lots of sunflowers that took a hit in a storm and ended up face down, uprooted. But some, even though they bend over under the pressure of the wind, the stalk threatening to break, can afterwards be carefully lifted off the ground and made to stand tall again. I think the difference is how deep the roots of the plant run.
The second thing that happened in the midst of all this was that I ran across a scripture that sunk in deeply into my heart. Isaiah 48:10 "Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction." Ever felt like your camping in the furnace of affliction? But the refiner has a purpose for it all - to purify the metal until only the purest gold shines through.
So it was, still feeling the heat of affliction and emotionally battered by unexpected winds that sometimes blow through our lives, I picked up the brush and began to paint. There was no longer any struggle to convey that idea I had had months ago, it really did seem to paint itself. And with each layer of paint, I marveled at how the gold shone more and more brilliantly on the petals.