Folly's End, 18x24 inches, oil on canvas
Good evening from the Holy City! My oldest daughter and I are in Charleston, South Carolina, for her college orientation. We came down a little early and enjoyed an absolutely perfect day at Folly Beach.
I absolutely ADORE Folly in all of its funky beach-vibe glory! It is the perfect mix, and not one bit stuffy. One thing we learned, however: do NOT eat on the beach, unless you want to be attacked!
We arrived at Folly at lunchtime, and stopped at Bert's Market to pick up sandwiches from the Wooden Spoon. Headed to the beach, plopped down our chairs, and no sooner had I taken a bite when my sandwich was violently ripped out of my hand! I let out an involuntary yell and then realized the culprit: a pack of greedy seagulls. I must have looked like a crazy woman; screaming and waving a towel, fighting them for my lunch. I was determined not to let those dirty birds win! My daughter was laughing her head off. No sooner had I regained my dignity and sat back down when she let out a yelp--they were back for her sandwich! We felt like we were living a scene from "The Birds"!
Now I know why Jamie Wyeth chose seagulls to depict his series, "The Seven Deadly Sins"!
"Folly's End" is a work I did several years ago, based on the view from the northern end of the island. It's one of three I've done from my times on "the edge of America," but certainly there are more to come.
Gluttony, by Jamie Wyeth
"Winter's Long Light"
30x24 inches, oil on canvas, private collection
It's freezing outside today. Okay, well maybe 17 degrees isn't exactly extreme cold, but it certainly feels like it since we were extra spoiled by a particularly mild winter. Seems all the more cruel since everything started budding and blooming a bit early, fooled by the long stretches of unusually warm temps. After a long stretch of high 70's, we were even hit with a surprise snowfall last Sunday.
I don't like being cold. Winter is my least favorite season. But I am learning to find beauty in the diversity of each.. Winter's bare trees offer a starkness to the landscape, a kind of graceful filligree of naked branches against the sky, a transparency to the horizon that we don't get in the other times of the year that allows us to see much further.
I remember hearing Melissa Helser, musician and wife of Jonathan Helser, speak about "the clarity that winter brings" a few years ago at a conference on creativity. She expounded on the significance of seasons in our lives; how times of resting from producing fruit allows our roots to grow deep into God’s heart. (read more about this in the Cageless Birds devotional book, Cultivate Vol. II: The Clarity That Winter Brings. )
Reflecting on winter's necessity speaks to the barren places of my soul. Lately, I've felt disappointment and frustration that certain things are not happening out there on the landscape of my life. But this meditation reminds me that we are often easily fooled by outward appearances. On the contrary, a great deal is happening beneath the surface. Sap is rising, new buds are forming, roots are deepening. Dormancy is necessary for the energy required in upcoming seasons.
Soon the forests will be crowned in all their glory, but in the present, I'm challenged and reminded to be grateful for the changing scenery each season offers.
Did you know even the sun resonates with sound?
"The Sun is playing a secret melody, hidden inside itself, that produces a widespread throbbing motion of its surface. The sounds are coursing through the Sun's interior, causing the entire globe, or parts of it, to move in and out, slowly and rhythmically like the regular rise and fall of tides in a bay or of a beating heart." (Kenneth R. Lang, Stanford University SOLAR Center).
There are sounds all around us in this universe -- and beyond. Many are frequencies we cannot hear audibly with our ears, but we pick up on their vibrations nonetheless.
Scripture is full of references to the sounds of creation:
"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world." -- Psalm 19:1-4
Deep calls to deep, waterfalls roar (Psalm 42:7). Mountains and hills break forth into song, and trees clap their hands (Isaiah 55:12). Stones cry out if people do not (Luke 19:37-40).
In terms of my art, I think of it like this: something is calling to me and I am trying to record it. Only instead of writing lyrics and composing music, I paint. I want my colors to sing and my composition to draw the viewer in as if they're eavesdropping on an intimate memory, conversation or experience.
Also there's an element of decoding -- what is the Creator of the universe saying to ME? Sometimes I create a painting, and I don't know exactly why. Often the revelation of what it's saying to me comes later. Sometimes it is in the titling of the painting.
At other times, I am greatly discouraged by the silence out there. I think I have to reframe my thinking--this act of creation is a dialogue between the Lord and me. Of course, it is my hope that it will speak something to you, too. But I'm finding I need to lay down my expectations that people are going to react, or tell me about their reactions. I need to create art with pure motives. I hear creation calling out to Him, and I want to join in the refrain...with my paintbrush.
"On The Shores Of My Heart"
36 X 48 inches
oil on canvas
I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about finding my voice, so I thought that was a great topic to kick off my blog.
The words voice and vocation come from the Latin verb vocare -- to call, or invoke. Todd Henry, of Accidental Creative, writes: "Our voice is the thing that is being called out of us in the midst of our work. It is the underlying why of our passion, even if we've never considered it. We must actively search for our voice, and clear a path for it to emerge. It is uncovered, not manufactured. We may not even like what we discover at first, but by embracing it we will position ourselves to occupy the unique space for which we're wired."
What resonates within me? What moves me and, in turn, spurs me to express myself through what I create? Am I being true to that, or ignoring it in lieu of what I think buyers and collectors might want?
Being true to your voice, is what makes your art authentic. And in the end, that's the most attractive thing you can do. "Follow your heart" is definitely not the best advice for every scenario, but as far as what to create, I believe it is.