Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Who Can You Serve Today?

It is often said that love is a choice, not a feeling.  When you chose to love someone, you are choosing to love them regardless of their attitude or reactions.  You are voting yes for them, in their darkest hour and in their roughest patch.  I am not asking you to reward temper-tantrums, but to encourage and lift up, in whatever way possible.

This morning in my quiet time I received some inspiration from my late Grandma.  I noticed that from the time she was my age till the day she died at 92, she was as faithful to her husband as a woman can be.  She spent all their days together, right by his side.  After his death in '89, she eventually dated other guys, but all the while she never quit talking about Earnest and how she longed to be with him again.  In fact, a small circle of us believe he came to get her the night she flew into heaven.

I pray that I could be a woman with that kind of love and loyalty.  I see opportunities to exercise this quality when I look at my friends.  Once I get past my own self-filled bubble of exciting achievements, I can see into the lives of others and understand all of their hopes and disappointments.  This is my window of opportunity.  Jesus tells us to "encourage one another daily," and "love our neighbor as ourselves."  But do we really live up to that calling?  When others slip away or encounter something devastating, do we step up or back out?

Love is hard.  It is asking the most vulnerable part of you to take a stand.  This raw love is beautiful; breathtaking.  In fact, it looks nothing like the pop-culture version we see on TV.  Hollywood glamorizes this messy, all-open, sex-centered affair of a relationship called "lust."  We call it love, but that is a lie.  It is an unfaithful web of lies.  Instead of looking to magazines and movies to inspire your character, why not look to those quiet couples around you who have been happily married for years?  You'll find them sitting right next to each other, worshiping and serving the Lord.  

No couple is 100% perfect, but there are always loyal ambassadors to learn from.

Who can you serve today?  Take a look around. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Artsy Friday: "Three Feet"

Today's Artsy Friday feature is my painting, "Three Feet", 2013.  This painting was also done as an assignment for my Intermediate Painting class in the fall of 2013.  I was late getting into the class and this was our first assignment.  With less time to work and plan than the other students, I jumped right in and came up with this painting in about a two week period.

The objective was to create a painting that captured "Three Feet."  It could be a play on words, painted on three feet of fabric, etc., just as long as it somehow captured "Three Feet."  Of course I was up to the challenge and my creative brain ticked along as I somehow came up with a very far out idea.

The first thing that popped into my mind was actually a picture of two feet.  In the spring of 2012 I had taken a publications class where we worked with Adobe's InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop programs to create lots of cool graphic designs.  One of our assignments had been to create a book cover.  I had a really cool idea of merging three pictures I had taken back in 2010 for a digital photography class.  What happened then was a cool design, I thought.  However when I presented it to the class they saw the deeper meaning behind the pretty pictures.

"It is a reflection of your soul."  they said.

Even the plainest Jane in the room began to confront me of my deepest fears and point out the symbolism I had (unknowingly) placed inside my (fake) book cover.  Needless to say, I found the entire presentation completely uncomfortable yet dangerously close to the subconscious truth my design had conveyed.  At that point in my life, this graphic explained the very core of me.  I was in between my country roots and my city potential.  My body was aiming towards a culturally pleasing definition of success, while my heart was telling me to make a U-turn.  Without going into the whole story of my madness, here is my (fake) book cover, American Honey:

So as I entered the classroom of FJJ 420 in August of 2013 I was sort of in the same emotional spot.  Wanting more but not quite ready to leave my roots.  I had mixed emotions about returning back to school to finish my last semester, and I was quite nervous of what would come next.  These things, plus the obvious imagery of "two feet" led me to an idea for my "three feet" painting.

I imagined building of of my American Honey graphic and adding a third set of feet.  If the boots had symbolized my country roots and the flats my city potential, then I needed a third pair of feet to show my new found interest in travel.  Before I knew it, however, my mind had skipped a few pages and just saw the dirt and a cityscape colliding, mixed with a sunset and an ocean, covered with an outline of the south central states of America. 

As I sketched this in my notebook, I also envisioned my favorite color scheme, rainbow!  With not much time to spare, I took my 10 minutes of planning an ran with it.  My first goal: rainbow-fy it!  I pictured the four corners of my painting merging together at an angle.  How clever I thought I was!

However, pretty soon my professor presented me with a clear problem.  Where does the three feet come in?  In theory, I had this covered, but on the actual canvas it made no sense.  I took this into consideration but continued painting my original design, hoping the issue would work itself out as it so often does in the arts.  
After painting the background lightly, I decided to freehand part of the United States.  Using Google Image as my guide, I would look at the picture on my screen and do my best to fill it in with white on my canvas.  I only wanted an outline so I first cut through the thick paint with my palette knife, outlining the states, then went back in and filled it in with white paint.  

With better planning I would probably have changed the order of my process.  Next I found myself painting in the wheat in the bottom left corner and the cityscape in the upper right.  This was sort of the bigger image I was going for, but by doing this I covered up my states. 

I continued working in the bottom right, bringing out the ocean more and more, then moved back to the upper left working on my sunset clouds that reminded me of Salvador Dali's style.  

Soon I found myself completely without states, so I spent the night before our painting was due, at the art studio, tracing states with a palette knife and wondering if the white was really a good idea, since I had previously added all the white details to the rest of the painting.  With no time to spare I decided against the white and against the lines I had originally gone with.  Magenta dots please!

I was very pleased with my painting thus far, but with only a few hours left until presentation time, I remembered a tedious problem.  There was no representation of three feet anywhere in my painting.  In fact, it was a stretch to explain how I even came up with this idea in the first place.  

Being the witty, sometimes obnoxious person that I am, I decided to include three small but monumental figures in my painting.  

That is my hidden secret for this painting.  Feel very special that I let you in.  Not everyone knows of this little flair.  To see the finished painting check out my listing on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/173149730/three-feet-oil-painting-on-canvas?ref=shop_home_active.

Thanks for reading!
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