Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Beloved Prayer Painting from Koinonia

One of the concepts I am focusing on this week, thanks to my Flora Bowley intuitive painting class, is being bold and brave in my work. As I approached this weekend, I knew this conference would be a great opportunity for me to actually put that into practice, so I bravely chose to paint during a worship service in front of a lot of women, to face my issue of not feeling like I 'get' the worship experience. I had never done this before, so the entire concept had me totally out of my comfort zone....thankfully! 

The word 'beloved' always brings me great pause. It is one of those words my spirit wrestles with because I don't comprehend my relationship with Christ that way....but I wish I did. This weekend I was fortunate enough to spend it with a great group of ladies at the Koinonia conference in Panama City. To be honest, I wasn't sure I wanted to go....not because I didn't want to connect with these women or express my faith, but because I struggle with the concept of public worship and didn't want to feel awkward in this moment. Rather than give into that fear, I faced it, chose to go, and chose to paint through the service as a way to connect with my faith in a process that I am comfortable with...through my art. 
 I started with writing my intentions and prayer for the day on my paper and as my spirit led, my brush followed. I wish I could say there was an easy flow to this but like always, I processed my angst through the moments of prayer. It was an interesting few hours as I deliberately chose colors and lines and marks in response to words said or feelings felt. Though a bit odd at first, within the first few minutes of committing to use my gift through the service, I was totally tuned in and that my friends.....was....the miracle. 

For the first time I didn't feel like a fish out of water in a church service. I know that sounds odd, especially to many folks who know me and know that I was raised in church my entire life. As much as I love church, love the connection, love the lessons, I just never quite got the worship part of it all until I was allowed to let my paint flow. 

Being tuned in was great, but it didn't prevent my head from colliding with my heart and there were moments that gave me great pause. After painting a while, creating many layers, and feeling the angst arise, I stopped, took a deep breathe and two visions came into play. The first one was a person with their hands raised high in great praise for their heavenly father....their beloved . The second was much more profound. I saw the image of Jesus, on the cross, hands raised, and the idea that he is the true beloved hit home with me. I can't imagine how Mary must have felt watching her son crucified....her beloved child. It was a humbling thought at the sacrifice of the life he gave.

Here are some of the images of the process as I began and painted through the service with a quite meditation time afterwards. 

I began with a prayer....

Then began to add the colors inspired by words and music....

As Christie sang....I painted...

At first, the image of an angel came to be....but much angst followed.

At this point I was frustrated...with the ideas in my head and the tug of my heart.

Then I saw it....two forms, one in the same and I knew instantly where the painting was headed.
"My Beloved" mixed media on paper.

Song of Solomon 6:3
"I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine

Though quite abstract, I love the marks, the energy, the tension in this painting. It connects me with the common thread in that my faith is a lot like this...marked up, full of tension, full of beauty, and so worth fighting for.  This painting  carries that message forward for me and using my gift to share that message  brings me great peace. I may not always understand the purpose of why images appear or don't, but I do trust the message and am grateful for it. 

This experience taught me so much. It taught me that being brave is valuable, not only to me, but it helps others become brave themselves. I also learned that there is no cookie cutter version of what worship should look like. For one person hands being raised is great, for another being still in quiet prayer is perfect, and for me, letting my paint flow is the best way I connect with my faith, and that is beyond comforting. 

I am grateful to the ladies who hosted this weekend, especially Monica and Flow! Koinonia is a treasure for so many and without the nudges along the way I would have missed out on this BRAVERY!

Embrace Your Place and Go With Grace Friends!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Guardian Angel Painting

There are days.....
There are days I feel fragile, tired, worn.
Those days I see angels more than others.
Angels who protect, guide, comfort....
Angles who give a gentle nudge in a safe direction....
Angles who wrap their protective arms around those I love...
and hold them gently...but with unwavering strength.

There are days I see angels everywhere, around me, around you, in the dark places pushing forth the light. Today is one of those days....angels are everywhere. Today is a day I spent acknowledging the presence, the power, the gift of angels throughout my life and I thank God for them.

Many times, when a painting is started as an expression of emotion the voice of it sometimes reveals itself as I work through the layers. Other times it doesn't come until the layers are taken apart, one, by one, by one. "Guardian Angel" is one of those mixed media collages that started out with one purpose but thanks to a higher calling, went in a new direction after I was brave enough to listen to my inner voice that said....cut it up.

I can only imagine that was an angel knowing I needed the nudge toward being brave today, even if it was as simple as being brave enough to disassemble one voice to rebuild a more beautiful one. I am guessing there is a message in this day for me, the value of being brave to let go, unravel, untangle, and then....rebuild.

May your angels be with you today and may you know they are there friends.

First Layers

Second Layers

Third through Fifth Layers

"Guardian Angel" mixed media/collage
8" by 10" 

Monday, February 11, 2013

"You Are Held" Prayer Painting

There are moments in my creative journey, when it seems to collide with my every day life, that I feel called to paint through a piece with much prayer and intent. I don't usually know when that will happen but I always stay open to that voice, when my spirit tells me, pray as you paint. What I have come to understand about this experience is that I am not one who is able to embrace 'worship' like many do, but I am able to tap into that incredible faith through the gift of my art, and I am deeply humbled by that when it is called for. 

This painting didn't start out as a prayer, in fact, it was a piece that was part of an intuitive painting project class by Flora Bowley that I am working through. She was teaching us to come to a place of peace, let the paint flow from within us, and give ourselves the freedom to listen to a voice from within that would guide the painting forward. Her class was transforming and I am grateful I had the experience of taking it. 

 From the day it was started though, I began to have loved ones pass away, friends diagnosed with cancer, loved ones in surgery and struggling with illness, and deep sadness all around me. I felt that I must simply pause, take a deep breath, and I knew this piece was meant to pray for people, not to be painted for myself. 
As I painted it, I lifted those folks up with my brushstrokes, with my thoughts, with my hopes and prayers for them. 

There are many powerful ways to pray for people in our world and painting a prayer is one I love. So for Cheryl, Christine, Loretta, Ashley, Holly and family, Nancy, Grace and family, and my beloved Uncle prayers go with you....and "You Are Held" is yours. 

If you are one who is a person of faith and creative, I encourage you to listen when your spirit might just say, paint through a prayer. It isn't so much about the painting as it is the purpose, and showering those we love and adore, and those we may not know but who need to hear and see these prayers, are who we paint for. 

And if you are one who is struggling through illness or loss, know this: "You Are Held" as well, by angel armies, by those who stand in the gap and pray for you, by the one who wants nothing more than HIS very best for us. 

Peace Friends, let the love flow today! 

Here are the steps of this piece:

And it begins with collage



"You Are Held" 20" by 20" mixed media on board





Saturday, February 9, 2013

Carnival On Bienville Mixed Media Collage

We are in the prime of Mardi Gras season here in Mobile, the actual birthplace of Mardi Gras, and our city is celebrating carnival to the hilt. I attended my first parade in over 15 years the other night  with my dear friends Gayle, Mary Elizabeth, and Lydia, as well as meet some great new friends I am excited to build memories with. We held camp at Art(ology), the gallery which I am a partner in, and it was the perfect hub four us considering it is in the heart of downtown. As we walked to the parade I became captivated by all the colors, patterns, and light between the glowing buildings and the outrageous floats. It was a plethora of ambiance for my eye candy fix and I loved it!

Crew of Columbus
Today, down at Art(ology), I watched the streets fill with folks and the excitement build in anticipation of all the parades and it all inspired my spirit to paint. Lately, I have been combing my love of collage with mixed media layers and graphite, which sends me over the moon! I think it is the mark making that connects me with my primal, artistic roots or something, and when I start to layer, I go totally zen.

Capturing the life, the spirit, the excitement of Mardi Gras was my goal for this piece, not in a realistic sense but in an abstract explosion of color and line. My collage pieces set the tone and I worked at recalling the myriad of emotions my city, friends, and carnival brings to me.

Here is "Carnival on Bienville" 20" by 20" on board,  and I think I nailed it with my intent for this piece of artwork. If you have never attended Mardi Gras before, I highly encourage you to make a date for next year in Mobile. It is not as congested as New Orleans and we catch and eat Moon Pies here, who can beat that?

First Layers

"Carnival on Bienville" 20" by 20" mixed media collage on board

Friday, February 1, 2013

Gulf Coast Abstractions - Mixed Media Collages

Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are from growing up on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico at our family beach house on Fort Morgan. We spent summers there, running the dunes, casting the nets, floundering, and digging for periwinkles. The sand was so hot that you either had to run like the wind or wait until the day cooled off to get from the house to the shore. Our family ate together, played together, worshiped there together and built the memories of a lifetime for us and I think I can still get sand out of my ears if I tried really hard. 

One of my first memories of meeting my husband was driving up to the west end of Dauphin Island and viewing the kids and Bill shoveling oyster shells for the driveway. Anytime it stormed the ocean would wash the sand over the drive and the shells would have to be re-sifted. Bright Waters faced the Gulf of Mexico and the memories we  shared there are still bitter sweet to this day. Hurricane Ivan took the house and Hurricane Katrina took the lot and I miss Dauphin Island, the call of the ocean, the taste of salt in my mouth, and the incredible sunset so much. There are days I look to the sky, close my eyes, and imagine that I am still there, listening to the draw of the ocean's song. Living along the Gulf Coast is like no other place and no matter how far I drift from here it always calls to me, always reminds me of being home. 

When I thought about what type of work I wanted to create for a mixed media show coming up this month the idea of celebrating the beauty of the coast was the perfect choice. There are lines, colors, patterns, and textures that I carry with me in tiny spaces of my mind, all from the memories of childhood and those I hold dear from Dauphin Island. For those of us lucky enough to grow up along the coast it becomes part of us, our spirit, our way of life, and the impressions last a lifetime. 

Mixing multiple elements in a piece has been a challenge of mine and I have grown quite fond of using graphite, acrylic, and collage using transparent papers. The pieces used to create the myriad of colors and landscapes were made using papers that would have ended up in the trash. I repurposed table paper from our art center, hand painted them, and incorporated them into the framework for each piece. Graphite was used not only as a sketch tool but I also wanted to write through the inspiration for each piece with a painting of words as well as paint and paper. 

The images here are the beginning of this series. My intent will be to build a body of work that encompasses the impressions of the coast from my childhood to present day, celebrating our way of life here from the ocean to the small town life that we all know and love. I start with that of abstract landscape and gulf front, as these colors and structure are what my psyche echoes of days long past. 

If you are a lover of the coast, I do hope my words and images will connect with you in a unique way, as the coast has to me. 

Text written on canvas: 
To live by the coast is to live with the knowing that even though the air be salty, the waves be ever moving, and the sand be always at our feet, serenity comes from being in sync with call of the ocean against the longing of our hearts. It shall always call us home. 
"Reflections of Bright Waters 8" by 16" collage on canvas

Text Written on the canvas:
What is the call of the ocean on our hearts? Is it the ebb and flow of the spirit between love and connection? Is it the fluidity of the movement between coming forth and drawing back? For so many the ocean calls out to us, touching a place deep within, grounding us by water, life, and the beauty bound not only by its surface but also its depths. When one experiences the call of the deep along the coast we become part of it in a way that is difficult to pen. It is who we become, our way of life, our knowing between the land and the sea. Our families are shaped by it, contained by it, and impacted by it, as it was meant to be. May our longing for the coast remain in our hearts, be protected by our actions, and may we be the stewards of the tide. May we forever love and honor its beauty and the gifts it offers us.
" The Call of the Sea" 22" by 28" collage on canvas

Text written on canvas: 
"Sunsets are God's way of painting our hearts into being."
"The Green Flash" 16" by 20" collage on canvas