Art can't fill you when you're hungry. .
Art can't fill you when you're hungry. .
It can't pay your bills. Unlike vinegar, or plastic straws, there aren't 100 life hacks for art.
It can't take away your pain. It can't hold your hand. It can't save you.
But.... art is a gift. It can tell you your story so that you see it in a new way. Art can sing you your song. In a flash it can turn a teardrop into a fleeting diamond.
It can take an ordinary moment and touch it with beauty. It can take you on adventures when you can't leave home. It can make you feel your humanity.
Art can give you permission to let out the breath you have been holding. Because you may feel alone, but you are not alone.
I heard someone say this summer that thinking is a creative's most important work.
It's already getting cooler in northern Michigan, and the trees are tinged along the edges with autumn color. The rhythm of life changes with the seasons, and as the rhythm resets the pulse of my days, I'm building in time to think.
Time spent walking, praying, thinking, and feeling. It's tempting to run away from feeling things, to drown one's own thoughts with the thoughts of others, with music, and a thousand other things. But I want to feel what life brings. To think about what it all means, or how senseless it all seems. To pour out my heart to the One who knows.
Space to think brings depth and dimension to a work of art. And to a life.
Often I'm asked how to frame a leaf. It's a little unnerving to glue down something so delicate, and of course one doesn't get second chances at placement. So I was delighted recently to have a small brainstorm... use floater type frames. Sandwiching the leaf between two pieces of glass has many advantages.
These floater type frames from Anthropologie are very easy to use. Just slide open the latch to separate the two layers of glass. They open on a hinge. Center the leaf on the glass in a way you find aesthetically satisfying, close, and slide the latch shut. I've done a bit of framing since becoming an artist, and this is by far the easiest frame job I've done.
The minimalism of the glass really highlights the leaf and lets it stand out in all its delicate beauty.
You can remove the leaf from the frame at any time or reposition it.
The close contact with glass prevents any dust from reaching the leaf.
Cautions? As with any art, displaying a leaf in strong or direct sunlight can really fade colors. Make sure you display your piece in indirect light.
Using floater frames is an elegant approach to framing leaves in a way that highlights their ethereal beauty.
"Grow", acrylic on birch bark.
We moved a fair bit when I was a child. I went to five different schools by the time I reached 4th grade. And I was, and am, a bit odd, and very sensitive. It was hard on me. I hated changes, small and large.
But there's this funny thing about growing. It requires change.
It requires stepping out of the warm, the familiar, the comfortable. Growth is usually gradual, but even the tendrils of ivy are always reaching out to new territories, a new brick, an new spot of sunshine on the wall. Or a new stretch of shadow.
"Peace Passing Understanding" acrylic on birch bark.
So we have to be brave. To grow as an artist, or as a person, you must be brave. To step into that place that you cannot see....blind as the ivy, and brave.
" Shine" Acrylic and gold leaf on 12 by 12 canvas
I don't know what makes the ivy twine, but I know what makes me brave. One thing.
That's the thing worth growing for.
She walks out of doors, head down. Her mind is full of the troubles of the day, and her heart is heavy. And there, at her feet, is a feather. She picks it up, touching the glossy iridescence of its blackness, the zippered fronds of it translucent against the light. It is a gift.
Or she might see a tree encased in ice, the light shining it into a blaze of sparkling glory that would put any Christmas tree to shame.
A spider's web strung with golden droplets. A leaf faded away to its intricate skeleton. A tiny abandoned eggshell of pale blue.
And she lifts her head. For these are gifts of Love.
I'm firmly in middle age. The age when the number of responsibilities are at a max. I'm in the throes of potty training and driver's training all at once. The advantage is, I feel needed. When I was young and alone, it was hard to know how much I was loved. Now I know how much everyone is loved. So much.
. The disadvantage is, I'm tired. Tired of dealing with the same problems. Problems that when I was young, I hoped would be gone. I've had 25 years to be an adult.... I hoped that by now I could outgrow my tendencies, emerge into a new place.
But, no. I'm the same person, a person who has learned and grown, but still full of the same tendencies, the same weaknesses. I carry my planner and map out my days but I still drive away with the hatch open and groceries inches from falling out. I'm in over my head with life, and I know it.
But... when I stumble, I have forgiveness through Jesus. When the path for the day leads through darkness that I am tempted to think will not end, I remember the promises. When I am tired.....
"Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
...and I wait on Him.
There is something so soothing about simplicity.
Clear spaces, harmonious colors.
My shop has been feeling cluttered and crowded for a while, so I have cleared it out. Difficult to navigate, so I have pared down to three categories. The Serenity series is entirely new, with its simple color palette and real gold leaf. The paintings evoke peace and tranquility.
The Hope series highlights the beauty and wonder that is found along the journeys of our lives, and a looking beyond this present world.
And then there is the familiar and loved Courage series, which is what I'm calling my bark and leaf paintings.
My Etsy shop now has a sister "Pattern" shop which has a cleaner interface.... any click on my "Shop" tabs will take you there. They are linked, so it's totally a matter of preference which you use. But I like the clean, classy look of the Pattern shop.
I'm left with about 20 paintings that don't fit in these three series. They will be sold by Facebook auction, and I'd love to have you join me there on January 31- February 2. Fifty percent of the proceeds go to The Morning Center, which provides free and compassionate prenatal and postnatal care for Memphis women, and they would love to expand to other cities.
Myself, I'm thoroughly tired of political talk. I'd love to be able to do something to actually help someone. To ease the path for someone who doesn't have many resources of her own....to do one tiny thing to help. Want to join me? Click here to join the Facebook Auction
Several years ago my little girl got sick. A restlessness held her, brought on by pain so strange she didn't recognize it as pain. Within a week, she couldn't walk or rest or smile. She couldn't suck through a straw. At the hospital, they said it was paralysis, and we were doing tests for brain tumors and other scary things.
My heart hurt. I had never experience emotion like I did then... and I am a great experiencer of emotion. It's indescribable. I was calm in one sense, sure that the Lord was with us. But in another way, all my senses were heightened, everything in me was pounding toward trying to help my little girl.
She didn't have a brain tumor. She had an unusual form of Guillion-Barre syndrome, which is treatable. She left the hospital after a week, walking a shuffling walk and smiling a tired, lopsided smile. Over the next months she regained all the physical ground she had lost.
But I don't think it's a coincidence that I started drawing and painting later that year. I don't think it's chance that the first painting I sold had my daughter in it, and was bought by someone who had breast cancer. Later she gifted it to a dear friend of hers who was dying of cancer.
I don't think it's a mistake that so many of the people that love my art have stories to tell. Sickness, grief, depression, addiction, pain both of the nerves and of the heart. There are stories we tell in words, but there are parts of our stories that words can't quite touch.
And that is what art is for.
I am a lover of snow. I love its silence, its beauty, the magical way it sculpts the world around me into entirely new landscapes that change every day.
But I also am aware of how treacherous it is, as I drive to pick up my daughter from work, peering through the dark, flakes flying thick at my headlights, windshield wipers on the highest setting, trying to find the faint ruts that mark the road in this white world.
Sometimes I am tempted to avoid the storms. To stay inside, warm but dull. Sheltered but lethargic.
But I have found the best way to live in winter is to walk into the storm, to let the wind whip, the flakes sting. To be alive. To pray for a peaceful heart. And tomorrow the sun may rise sparkling on the snow, and turn it into a mirror of the starry sky.
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3
When I was a little girl, my father told us that there was a little man who lived in the refrigerator. It was this little man's job to turn the light on when you opened the door, and off when you closed it. It wasn't that my dad was trying to deceive us... it was a game... a game that let us see the world through eyes of wonder.
There's nothing like an election year to make the world seem pretty banal. I listen to the news. The cars need repairs, there are eye appointments, and moths in the pantry.
But then I step outside and watch the moon sift down powdered light that makes my skin glow silver.
This banal sin tinged world is real, but so is my imagination. So are the words of poetry that help us remember the wonder and the beauty.
I pick up a leaf and turn it into a fairy princess. She's wearing her crown. And I remember what an amazing wonderful thing a leaf is.....that this ordinary looking leaf has been taking the light of the sky and turning it into sugar all the summer long. Turning gold into sweetness.
We go for a hike and my children gather fistfuls of colored leaves, all glowingly different from each other in their dying glory. And I gather fistfuls of wonder.