My Year of Making

Twice, this week I have come across this bit of advice coming from two unrelated sources. I’m hearing the message loud and clear & I am looking at this year as my year of making.

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Why social media & I don’t get along.

Social media has enriched my life in a number of ways.  I love the connections that I’ve been able to make with people outside of my normal circle of everyday interactions thanks to FacebookPintrest has become my primary resource for finding new ideas and creative ways to do things.  And Instagam has inspired me to challenge myself artistically and encouraged me to keep working at skill that I struggle with to see growth over time.  In these ways, I can’t imagine my life without social media.

Over the last year, in a push to grow my business, I started focusing on social media, spending more time creating posts working toward a consistent schedule and a stronger online presence.  This strategy has been good for my business, but not so good for myself.

To begin with, it is a distraction.  For every 20 min. that I spend doing something productive, I spend another 60 min. distracted on a rabbit trail.  However, time management is a challenge for many entrepreneurs.  No, my issue with social media comes from a deeper, personal place.  For me, social media is a constant source of discontentment and jealously.

As I scroll down my Facebook timeline, I see all the places that my friends are traveling to, the concerts they are at, and the restaurants they eat at, and I feel jealous.  I log on to look at the pins that have inspired those who I follow on Pintrest, and I see beautiful homes, inspiring studios, and gorgeous works of art.  I compare these with my own home, studio and artwork and I feel discontent.

Jealousy and discontentment are not character traits that I am comfortable holding in my heart.  They rob me of joy.  Yet, it doesn’t stop there.  When I’m not on the computer, my mind is still on those social media sites as I ponder how to best document my life for maximum social media impact.  I’m not being present in the moments of my life if my mind is pondering ways to leverage my life moments on social media.  Trying to live my life as a promotion of my brand is like creating artwork because I think it will sell.  Neither is an authentic expression from my heart and neither is very fulfilling.

I ask myself why I spend my time participating in something that plants seeds of jealousy and discontentment and causes me to live my life without authenticity.  Sadly, the answer is, to grow my business. This is not a good enough answer.  I believe that if I continue down this path, it will instead be the death of my creative business.  For how can I expect to receive God’s inspiration, and create meaningful art if I am not being authentic?  For this reason there will be some coming changes as to how I stay connected with all of you.  More information about these changes will be coming later.

In the mean time, I’m wondering how social media has effected how you live your life?  Share in the comments.

When Painting Means So Much More

I am a third generation painter. My father is a painter, as was his mother before him. Painting has always played an important role in my life. My training came along side life training. I remember learning about points of perspective, and proportions of the human body, just as I remember learning to ride my bike and dancing ballet. Every school project became an art project. In fourth grade, I made a life size statue of George Washington for a history project. and in middle school, my presentations were shrink wrapped and displayed as fine art. Creating has always been second nature to me. It is a treasured bond that I share with my dad. As I have grown older, creating art has also become a way for me to connect with my heavenly father.

Rhythm & Balance LernerIn 2014, I had the privilege of doing some artwork for a fundraiser hosted by Elkhart General Hospital in Elkhart, IN. During this time, there was a tragic shooting that took place in our community. In response to this, the hospital asked if I would paint a memorial piece in memory of the shooting victims. It was my great honor to create an art piece entitled “A Three Stranded Cord”. The monument represents the strength of our community during that hard time. It shows that with love, hope, and unity, our community is like a three-stranded cord that cannot easily be broken. This was my first time painting for hurting people. The experience opened a door in my heart and gave me direction for my artwork.

Martin's 2 sidesShortly after the memorial dedication, I was asked by St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka, IN to begin painting their oncology unit. When I began, I didn’t realize how much this project would impact my life. As I have watched cancer patients view my artwork, I have seen them gain hope, and determination to keep up the fight, and this experience has greatly inspired me, offering me my greatest fulfillment as an artist.

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When people are sick, it is important that they get out of bed, walk around, and have a renewed hope, and inspiration for life.  Art can do that.

When people have lost someone dear to their heart, it is important that their memory live on, that others remember their life and are inspired.  Art can do that too.

Art can offer hope.  It is an inspiration of life.  It can soothe the soul and offer healing to the hurting in way that words cannot.

As I dip my brush into the paint and I make brush strokes across the wall., it is my prayer that those who see my paintings are able to see God’s heart for their life, that in the darkness of cancer, His presence is known and His love for His people is felt. This is why I paint.

A Place to Create

As we come into the the New Year, I’ve been evaluating my needs as a working artist in regards to my studio. I have been living and working out of our house for the past 11 years.  Over this time, I have had my studio in 5 different spaces in our home trying to figure out what works best.  Now I am considering investing studio space outside our home.  I have the opportunity to share a great space that I believe will fit my needs.  However, after being a stay-at-home-mom for the last 10 years, I feel torn about working outside the home.  Even if it is working for myself.

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As I have been weighing the pros and cons of both options, I came across some quotes from other artists sharing their thoughts about their studios.

What I try to use the studio for is what I call ‘thinking with material’. To do that you need an arena. You need a page to write on. You need a space to work in. That is what a studio is.”  – Tony Cragg, Wuppertal, Germany

I like his choice of the word “arena”.  A large space is needed to get everything out, make mess, and experiment. It’s important to be able to walk away from the project, leaving everything out for you to return to with a fresh mind.

“I tend to work on the floor, sometimes on the wall and then on the floor. It’s constant movement between the vertical and the horizontal. Part of the reason I work on the floor is that I need the physical contact. You get the consistency of gravity and you can move the paint around … I try to get in to my studio as often as possible. At times I set myself a certain goal to reach. Some days are very long.” – Tony Bevan Deptford, south-east London

I never thought about there being a “consistency of gravity”, but he is absolutely right.  I also like that the floor gives canvas stability.  I can work directly on the canvas without having to stretch it first.  I MUST work more on the floor, but to do so, I’ll need more floor space.

“The studio is the place where it’s my world. When I leave I do take work home in my mind, you always carry it in your mind, but hopefully you can separate it or you will go insane. You have to turn your head off sometimes.”  – Marc Quinn Clerkenwell, London

Working from home makes it incredibly difficult to separate, and turn your head off.  It’s also hard to be present with my family when there is a constant pull on my heart to go paint.

 

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Take Me Deeper

One of my goals for 2015 is to me more intentional with my time.  I want to be present in the moments that take place throughout the day, but even more so, I want to see God’s  presence in these moments.  I want to KNOW God’s heart, and I want to be His hands and feet all day long, everyday.

I have always had a relationship with my maker, I have also always really struggled with spending time daily at His feet.  To be brutally honest, it’s always been boring to me.

After attending christian schools my entire childhood, reading the bible feels like reading a textbook.  It’s not alive to me, and I HATE that.  How can the words of my God feel so dead in my heart as I read them?  How can I possibly know God’s heart when his very word bores me?

I passionately LOVE my God with all my heart.  I hunger for more of Him every day, and it grieves me that I do not find life in reading God’s word.  This is why I’ve decided to join Take Me Deeper.

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Every week, for a year there will be a new bible verse to read as well as a devotional to accompany it.  Then throughout the week we are to create a piece of art inspired by the verse.  I know this is going to be a challenge for me.  I have yet to stick with something like this for the entire year, but I really hope that I do.   I hope that it helps me find a renewed hunger for reading the bible.  I also hope it helps me learn to hear God’s voice in creating art.

Week 1 : Romans 12:1-2

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Trust

If I am to choose one word for the New Year, it is “Trust”.

Although this will be the second year that I have worked as a self employed artist, it is the first year that we are supporting our family with the income.  As we move into 2015, I feel like I am stepping out of the boat to walk on water.  This year, I am fixing my eyes on Jesus, and placing my trust in Him.

Being in this place is an exciting dream come true, but it is also scary.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. ~ Proverbs 3:5

Being Present

IMG_9105In raising children, every parent hopes about what days will be like throughout the stages of life.  I always envision myself as a mother who is in tune with the seasons, exploring with my children the land around us, and taking advantage of everything that nature has to offer us.  My vision for our future always consist of a slower pace, offering us the time required to cherish and love life together as a family.  Each year, I make a promise to myself that next year will be different.  Next year, I’ll be the mom that I want to be, living the life that I want to live. Yet, here I sit, the last week of October, and once again, I feel that familiar panic rising in my heart over one more autumn that is slipping by without me being present.

My children are 9 & 10 this year, which is quite old if you ask me.  That’s 10 years of envisioning a life with my children that I have yet to actually embrace.  I ask myself, what is keeping me from making these dreams a reality, and in a word the answer is busyness.

What on Earth am I so busy doing?  Put simply, I’m preparing for the future.  Our family homeschools, so a large part of my time is spent preparing my children for their future.  Daily, I have conversations with my children about what the future may hold for them, and what skills they must learn to prepare for life as an adult.  I also busy myself working to earn money.  Granted, I love the work that I do.  However, there is pressure to store up treasures in an effort to secure a better future.  I am so busy preparing for tomorrow that the every day moments fly right past me without a notice.

Isn’t this why God has told us not to worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself (Mat. 6:34)?  I know that my God will provide for me. I know that “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know that He watches me”.  My faith is in Him, yet I continue to toil in an effort to secure a better future for my family.  What promise do we have that the securities we work to put in place today will brighten our tomorrow?  What promise do we have of there even being a tomorrow?  None.  We do however, have God’s promise that He will provide for our needs.  This week my challenge for myself & you as well, is to trust God.  Not just in word, but in how I choose to live life.

Show Me You; a series

I was little when I asked Jesus into my heart – young enough that I still thought of Jesus physically being in my heart.  My salvation was real, I knew Jesus, and grew up active in our church.  I have never known life without Jesus in it.  As a teenager, I would wonder about my relationship with God.  I didn’t feel like I had passion in my relationship with Him.  I felt His fire at youth retreats and conventions, but I knew that was different than having passion.  So, I prayed for passion.

Fast forward 15 years.  God has given me passion.  It often consumes me.  I feel like a cup that is overflowing, and I’m scrambling around in a frenzy of excitement trying to find out what to do with all of “it”.  “It” is a number things, like sharing God’s love & HOPE with Tibetans through knitting.  Another, is my artwork.  In the past I’ve simply let “it” spill out all over the place.  I don’t know what to do with “it”, so I start talking about “it” looking for direction as I wait to see what God is going to make out of the mess.

Mandy of Messy Canvas shared this statement on Facebook a while back.

“Quite frankly Christians, I’m ready to see you, not your Jesus.  Show me you.”

This status update & the conversation that follows has gripped me in such a way that months later, it still pulls at me.  It has started me down an internal path of wrestling.  I don’t know where the path will lead me, or even what direction it takes me.  When I’ve written my thoughts into a journal I seem to be all over the place in a kind of swirling ball of passion. I know that I have found something that is important, but I am unable to define it.  This single sentence has sparked a flame in me.  It is creating a passion for divine inspiration & art that is spilling out all over the place.   I’m searching for what to do about it as it is still very messy, swirling around in my heart & my head without any definition.

I have started the “Show Me You” series to give myself a place to  work through the swirling ball inside me.  I hope, dear reader, that you will jump in the conversation and offer your own thoughts & ideas to help me in my search for direction.

Show Me You

quite franklyMandy of Messy Canvas shared this statement on Facebook about a month ago.  After reading the conversation in the comments section and because of my own personal experiences, the words resonated deep within me, and I have not been able to stop thinking about them.

It reminds me of a season in my life that found me starving for authentic relationships.  I was frustrated with the people around me who were unwilling to meet me where I was at.  If I wanted to have any type of friendship, it was going to have to be an at-church-only kind  of relationship. They were not willing to meet me for coffee to share our hearts, or to talk about what God was doing in our lives. If I wanted to see them, I had to go to a church meeting (they had meetings every night of the week).  Then, of coarse, there was an agenda for that meeting.  Agenda is good, and there should be an agenda at church.  However, I desperately wanted someone to be my friend outside of that.  In that time, I wanted to see people.  I wanted to share my humanity with another humans and relate with each other in those struggles.  I didn’t want to go to church again and again to hear another salvation message. I didn’t want to see “their Jesus” – I wanted to see them, to get to know them, & to have a genuine friendship.  This quote reminds me of the importance of meeting people where they are at. Coming to them as another human who also struggles and wrestles with God and be willing to walk along side of them.

In reflecting on this FB status I wonder, why as an artists, is it so difficult to find meaningful connection in the church?

 

 

Staying True

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This spoke to my heart this morning.

Being an expressive artist, requires vulnerability.   When, I am creating, I am looking inwardly, and my art  is a reflection of what I find there.  The more I work on a piece, the  more vulnerable I feel as the reflection on the canvas comes from deeper inside my heart.  It takes bravery to share that with the world.

It is my desire to be God’s vessel.  As I reach deep inside, I want my artwork to reflect the heart of God.  Therefore, I must learn to trust.  To trust in God.  His love and inspiration will never run dry.  I need to trust that the inspiration in my heart is from Him, and I need to trust that whatever is there on the canvas will reflect God’s heart.  The painting won’t speak to everyone.  However, to the one person the message is intended for, it will scream the heart of God.

 “Stay true to you and you will end up incredibly happy”

This quote speaks to me.  It says to stay true to what I have painted. Don’t second guess my work.  Trust in it, and I will be happy.