Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Tabernacle

Religion is a process of turning your skull into a tabernacle,
not of going up to Jerusalem once a year.
~ Austin O'Malley

I always find it interesting how a "thought theme" comes up in a day.  I've been working on paper sculpting in preparation for ArtLoveMagic's Art& Coffee event this Friday.  I wanted to work on a skull today even though it's not usually my style.  But my friend Hallie who is producing the event loves skulls in art work so I thought it would brighten her day if I made one.

Earlier this morning, I chitchatted just a few minutes with my sister, a fellow blogger whom you can find at Playcrane, about how much wonderful inspiration there is out there in the form of blogs, ecourses, and websites on the net.  But it's easy to not only begin to develop the FOMO syndrome being talked about quite a bit these days (Fear of Missing Out), but also you end up spending so much time taking in information that there isn't enough time to process and actually do something with it.  So we both decided to get off our Facebook chat and get to work! ♥

After making this piece, I decided to explore the meanings of skulls, since I don't usually work with this theme.  I didn't find a whole lot.. other than that they can mean death (skull and cross bones) or its opposite, life.   Then I popped the word "skull" into several quote search engines and came up with this lovely sentence, which brought my mind back to the conversation with my sister.

In this information age, it is so easy to search for the answers "out there" rather than listening to the still, small voice inside.  I've noticed something even more ironic in the blog world.  Post after post after post about learning to listen to yourself, following your inner guide.... yet sign up for my newsletter!  (I say this in good love for all those whose work is creatively guiding others --- i'm just becoming more and more overwhelmed how many people do this now.) 

There is a balance, between going into the solitude of your soul and becoming so self-involved that you are unable to step out of your own thought habits.  There is no formula for staying in balance, other than awareness.  And now that that has been "said and read,"  get off this blog and go do something! :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

On the Importance of Fairytales

Every man's life is a fairytale written by God's fingers.
~ Hans Christian

Yes, I woke up early.  And on purpose for once!  I enjoyed chitchatting on Facebook this morning, oohing and ahhing about the details of the Royal Wedding.  I'm not really drawn to the whole Royal lineage thing, I do prefer my democratic land.  But.. I embrace the fairytale. 

Although I understand and agree with the arguments of sheltering our daughters from the fantasies of a knight in shining armor coming to save the day.  I whole heartedly embrace indendence, fortitude, and taking your own life by the reigns.  However, for me there are two important reasons why the fairytale of this day I embrace as well. 

First, every day there are numerous reasons for our spirits to be dampened.  This week it has been these horrific tornados.  It may be illness, financial troubles, relationship issues, or job loss.  Every day life gives us quite a platter of appetizers to give us spiritual nausea.  When given an opportunity to exercise joy, I will take it!  The joy of a beautiful dress, the joy of  a brother glancing to another with a smile,  the joy of a mass of people saying "your happiness is also mine"...

Secondly, stepping into a fairytale is the willingness to be open to the unexpected.  It is the belief that as many as there twists of fate to knock us off our feet, there are also those twists of synchronisity that take us to lands we never would have imagined.  Seeing and experiencing these moments of magic is a matter of choice. 

It's ironic that I am creating with old newspapers this week as I prepare for the interactive I will be leading at the next ArtLoveMagic Art & Coffee event a week from today.  I'm taking all this mass of written information.. mostly not of the joyful sort, and transforming it into something new, and exciting. 

What dream will you step into today?

Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream.  You dwell in your own enchantment.  Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery.  Even if you lose, or are defeated by things, your triumph will always be exemplary.  and if no one knows it, then there are places that do.  People like you enrich the dream of the worlds, and it is dreams that create history.  People like you are unknowing transformers of things, protected by your own fairytale, by love.
~ Ben Okri

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Hidden Wings

Hope is the thing with feathers,
that perches in the soul,
and sings the tune without words,
and never stops at all.
~ Emily Dickinson

I'm stretching my creative muscle as I prepare to lead the interactives at the next ArtLoveMagic Art and Coffee event which is held the first Friday of every month here in Dallas.  There is nothing that gives me more hope in this world than being surrounded by people making art and making art with others.  This wonderful organization gives professional artists and everyday people many opportunities to do this in a variety of venues.  Please check them out!   

Making art and pushing the boundaries of what I am able to do with my hands, my eyes, my heart is by far the most important thing I do every day to keep my soul intact.  As long as I am able to create something, I know I have hope that I am capable of creating a better tomorrow.  I am able to take what is given to me in this life, mould it, sculpt it, and transform it.  Whatever my struggle, be it relationship, personal, financial, etc.. through art I am able to know that there are new possibilities.  And amazingly, as I make things in my hands, my mind is often opened to solutions in other areas of my life.  Art is my prayer.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Via Crucis 14: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

Mark 15:46-47
Matthew 27:57-61

How do I move from this moment to the next?
I cannot take my eyes away,
knowing this is the last I will see you.
The person whom I loved and who loved me
is no longer there.
I reach out for you.

There Is A Green Hill Far Away
performed by Lyle Hadlock
from the album "There Is A Green Hill Far Away"

Take this journey from the beginning...

Via Crucis 13: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross

John 19:38-40
Psalm 22:14-15

Only when your body is limp
Do I feel you are truly gone.
You who moved me
Can only be moved by others now.

Blessed Redeemer
performed by Deeproots
from the album "Thirsty for You"

Take this walk from the beginning...

The next and final station...

Via Crucis 12: Jesus Dies on the Cross

John 19:28-37
Matthew 27:50

Am I angry that you did not save yourself?
Can I even comprehend what you have done?
Seeing you struggle
Seeing your agony
Is it sadness I feel when you breathe your last?
Or am I relieved it is over?
Tell me what I am supposed to feel.
All feels wrong.


Were You There?
performed by Selah
from the album "Timeless:  The Selah Music Collection"

Take this walk from the beginning...
Via Crucis 1: Jesus is Condemned

Take the next step...
Via Crucis 13: Jesus is Taken Down From the Cross

Via Crucis 11: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

Luke 23:33-43
Matthew 7:21

The creative hands that carved
The teaching hands that gestured
The comforting hands that consoled
The nurturing hands that served bread

Broken for you.

Nothing But the Blood
performed by Matt Redman
from the album "Facedown"

Take this journey from the beginning...

The next step...

Via Crucis 10: Jesus is Stripped

John 19:23-24
Psalm 22:16-18

Our primal possession.
Dressed in a robe
Crowned in thorns
Then stripped bare.
The effort to peel every layer of humanity from someone.
Complete vulnerability.

What Wondrous Love is This?
performed by Our Daily Bread
from the album "Celtic Hymns"

Take this walk from the beginning...

Walk on...

Via Crucis 9: Jesus Falls the Third Time

Psalm 27:23-24
Hebrews 4:15-16

Even the strongest fall.
From the ground
We see new perspectives,
Otherwise hidden.
Taking the path that includes stumbles
Takes one out to further destinations.

Alas and Did My Savior Bleed
performed by Diane Gibbs
from the album "Mystery"

Take this walk from the beginning...

Continue the walk...

Via Crucis 8: Jesus Consoles the Women of Jerusalem

Luke 23:27-31
Matthew 7:21

There is a time to weep.
This is not rumination.
It is not feeling sorry for one's self.
Expression allows one
to accept,
to forgive,
and to release.

Just As I Am
performed by David Arkenstone
from the album "Be Thou My Vison:  Celtic Hymns"

Take this walk from the beginning...

Continue this walk...

Via Crucis 7: Jesus Falls the Second Time

Psalm 38:6-22
Isaiah 63:9

We feel alone.
Yet there is no thread more common
than the experience of suffering.

O Sacred Head Now Wounded
performed by Amy Grant
from the album "My Father's Eyes"

Take this walk from the beginning...
Via Crucis 1: Jesus is Condemned

Take the next step...
Via Crucis 8: Jesus Consoles the Women of Jerusalem

Via Crucis 6: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

Isaiah 53:2-3
Matthew 25:40

Legend or truth
The story bears meaning the same.
When we comfort others,
as our heart is imprinted on theirs,
so their heart is imprinted on ours.
What we do for one,
We do for all.
We belong to each other.

You Are My All in All
performed by Aaron Shust and children
from the album "The Daraja Children's Choir of Africa"

Take this walk from the beginning...

Take the next step...

Via Crucis 5: The Cross is Laid on Simon of Cyrene

Mark 8:34
Mark 15:21
2 Timothy 2:3

Though the spirit may be willing,
flesh can be weak.
Share the burden.
Lift up others as you have 
and will be lifted.

Depth of Mercy
performed by Thad Burkhalter
from the album "Depth of Mercy"

Take this walk from the beginning...
Via Crucis 1: Jesus is Condemned

Take the next step...
Via Crucis 6: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

Via Crucis 4: Jesus Meets His Mother

Luke 2:25-40
Lamentations 1:12
John 19:26-27

No greater shame than showing suffering to one's mother.
No greater pain for a mother than seeing her child suffering.
A child's hidden suffering revealed.

Sometimes the kindest thing you can do,
is let others be with you.


Via Dolorosa
performed by Charles David Smart
from the album "At Long Last Light"

Take this walk from the beginning...

Take the next step...

Via Crucis 3: Jesus Falls the First Time

Isaiah 53:4-7
John 1:29

Accept that I am human.
Accept that I cannot do this life on my own.
Accept that there are those who love me enough to lift me up
There are those who love me enough to fall down for me.
Do not hide from my incompleteness.
Live in gratitude.

Jesus Paid It All / Beneath the Cross of Jesus
performed by Jennifer Ramsey
from the album "Still Waters"

Take this walk from the beginning

Take the next step...

Via Crucis 2: Jesus Takes Up His Cross

John 19:5, 13-17

Choose to carry that which will consume me?
Choose to participate in my own destruction?
Taking care of self first is taught as health action.
Where is the line between sacrifice that creates good and sacrifice that is misguided and meaningless?
Do I carry a cross to truly add to this world, or simply to display it for others?
How deep is my love for others? 
How can I accept those who sacrifice for me?

Come Ye Sinners Poor and Needy
performed by Craig Duncan
from the album "Sacred Music from the Mountains"

Take this walk from the beginning...
Via Crucis 1: Jesus is Condemned

Continue this walk...
Via Crucis 3: Jesus Falls the First Time

Via Crucis 1: Jesus is Condemned

Mark 15:1-15


The natural reaction when one is restrained is to fight back.  To hurl insults.  To hurt as you have been hurt.  To create pain as you have been pained.  How does one know when it is good and right to fight back and when the best thing is to face a situation with acceptance?

The jeering crowd.

Who would I be in that crowd?  Would I join the group, feel empowered by connecting to the mass?  Would I say I want no part of this drama and turn a blind eye?  Would I wash my hands too?  Would I have courage to speak, to accept the repercussions of speaking up?  Am I willing to step off my own path for someone else?

Behold the Lamb
peformed by Sovereign Grace Music
from the album "King of Grace"

Walk with me...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Peek into the Process

I get these ideas.  And if I actually take the time to think them through, I probably wouldn't attempt most of them.  I've had an idea for a few Holy Week pieces percolating for months.  Just a few paintings.  Until last week I thought of doing an actual Good Friday vigil through artwork on my blog using the traditional devotional Stations of the Cross.  Had I taken the time to think it through, I would have been too scared to attempt this.  For good or bad, here I am. 

I've always heard that it's not good for an artist to show an unfinished piece.  But I think we live in a new time now.  When all we see are finished pieces, they aren't pieces of a longer process.  They are simply products.  I appreciate artists who share with me the steps along the way.  It gives me courage that they have to struggle with the materials as much as I do. 

This Via Crucis project is an immense struggle for me.  Artistically, I'm pushed in my drawing skills.  Emotionally, I'm pushed to delve into a very painful story and live in it.  Socially, I'm pushed to share the experience with others.. some who may assume it's purposes are for proselytizing and be turned off... others who will critique my theology.  Spiritually... how do I describe this experience?  Terrifying.

I'm learning to trust the process... to have faith that when it is needed, my skill and inspiration will emerge.  As long as I take it step by step.  I am begin with research, perusing hundreds of other depictions through sculpture, mosaic, stained glass, painting, drawing.  I commune with others who have taken this walk.   I am given strength by seeing so many different styles create an entry into this passion story.  I have hope that perhaps my vision will as well.

Then I get out my pencils and I explore.  Draw, erase, draw, erase, and draw some more.  It's really scribbling.  Suddenly the paper's whiteness is more pallatible.  I have begun...

For more information about the Via Crucis that will be held this Friday here at the blog please visit the link below.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Entry

Palm Sunday Victory

They cut the branches from the trees
And strewed them in the way,
Because they knew their Lord and King
Would come along that day.

They sang hosanna to the King
And praised his holy name -
Now even in this modern day,
We, too, should do the same.

The Christ who came that palm-strewn way
To enter in the gate,
Will enter in your heart today,
So do not make him wait.

That palm-strewn path of long ago
Is still a victory sign
That Christ still comes along the way
Into your heart and mine.

~Raymond Orner

One of the most profound liturgical memories I have is the first Palm Sunday as an adolescent at a new church my father had been called to pastor.  Rather than a glistening gold processional cross, this cross was dark...with spikes like rusted nails.  And woven through the spokes, were beautifully colored ribbons that swayed with the steps of the crucifer as he held the cross above the heads of the congregants, as we sang our praises and held our palms.  Simple ribbons of color in a rudimentary cross... my first deep understanding of art in motion, art in its deepest significance.

This begins the Holy Week for Christians around the world... a time when we not only look forward to the Easter resurrection but take time to meditate on Christ's willingness to suffer for the freedom of all.



Please join me here for this special event going on all day this Good Friday.  For details, click the link above.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Join the Pilgrimage: Via Crucis

Learn to know Christ and him crucified. Learn to sing to him, and say, "Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin. You have taken upon yourself what is mine and given me what is yours. You have become what you were not so that I might become what I was not."
 ~ Martin Luther

Please join me here on Good Friday, as we walk with Jesus as he receives his cross, suffers, and dies.  Beginning at 8 am, each hour I will be posting a painting and short meditation for each of the traditional Stations of the Cross.  This act of contemplation and devotion has been expressed and experienced for centuries.  Beyond a remembrance of historical acts, beyond theologies of atonement, and beyond a simple prologue to the resurrection, the Way of the Cross is a deeply personal representation of the power of God's love and commitment to us.  Through Christ's journey, we may also see our own life's journey filled with imperfection and brokenness and be compassionate towards others who experience pain in their journeys as well.

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