I am looking forward to another Art Walk on Whyte Avenue. I will be joining the 450 artists who will also be showing and selling their art work. The variety of artists is amazing to see.
I will be on the closed off portion of 105 St again between 82 Ave and 83 Ave with my tan gazebo tent. I plan on painting again - so stop by and watch a demo!
Steadfast, immovable, rock solid, secure, my refuge. This is my God. Now put this together with the mountains playing hide and seek in the clouds and mist. Those mountains are still there, whether I can see them or not, just like God. Steadfast, immovable, rock solid, secure, my refuge. This image of “Steadfast” is one of the metaphors God showed me when I was working on my God is My Refuge series about ten or so years ago.
Whenever I see the mountains this way I am reminded of this metaphor of who God is and where I can run to when my soul and heart ache and when I am at peace and filled with joy and contentment. The state of peace and contentment was what I felt as we drove through the mountains on our way home from Kimberly, BC and our May long weekend holiday, taking scads of photos of the mountains playing hide-n-seek in the clouds.
I don’t have to be in distress to run to God. (Read an excerpt of my God is My Refuge devotional book on this chapter here.)
He wants to just “be” with me, to fill me up to overflowing with his love and presence. I don’t have to wait until I am so stressed and upset that I run dragging myself to his presence. In fact, he isn’t so far away. I am learning to find contentment in just "being" with God, but it isn't easy. I get caught up in productivity, and my long list of "to do's."
(This "being" is for me a new perspective, just like The Three Sisters Mountain photo to the right here is - Three Sisters mountain in Banff different angle of the same mountain in the painting above.) Are the clouds just my own busyness, my own distractions, my own fears and doubts that keep me from seeing His steadfast presence right here and right now? With me?
What clouds are obstructing your view of God and his rock solid presence in your life?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.
The fluff of the poplar trees is starting to fly like snow. So on Saturday evening, I went for a walk in the ravine to see if it could be collected yet. There was one section up on the hillside above the path that was covered in 1 – 4 inches of poplar fluff seeds. Beautiful. Peaceful.
Now you might wonder why I am collecting it. You see, one of my favorite papers (see the image of poplar/ red denim paper on the left) to create has poplar in it. Therefore, every year I watch for the opening of the poplar seed pods. Some years it falls in thick banks of fluffy “snow” that I can scoop up the top layer and avoid the dirt and debris below it – like this year. Some years the window of time between rain storms doesn’t allow the fluff to fly much. Sometimes we get a heavy frost and the pods fall to the ground before opening. On those years I have collected the unopened pods and hope they open up in a paper sack, which sometimes works.
It has been so dry this year I was wondering if the pods had enough moisture to grow. Some did, some shriveled up on the branches. Collecting the fluffy "snow" has its own challenges. I had to remember how I had done it before. The first handful is fine. The second handful goes in and the previous handful wants to fly free of the bag again. So if you were watching me, you would have seen as much fly out of the bag as I managed to put in, until I remembered to start squeezing the fluff together in my hands, giving it more substance and weight. The fluff itself has some oils in it, which I could feel as I squeezed it together.
This is all a part of the process of creating for me. I love the walks in the woods to find the fluff with which I make paper. It is peaceful. There are certain times of year I collect each one and a part of me is watching and waiting for it. I watch and observe the signs. This is the season for the fluff and I would have missed it if I was going by the calendar. It is usually not out until June.
Over the summer, I take note of where the fireweed is blooming, so that I can collect it late August or September when the seed pods are beginning to open. Likewise, I know where the long thistles and the short thistles grow, where to collect some cattails, and "Old Man`s Beard."
I am always on the lookout for other "fluffy" plants when I am out walking. When I see one, a curiosity rises in me to wonder what kind of paper it would make. And I think of the possibilities of what I could paint on that paper. I also think of a painting idea and go gather what I need to create the paper I want to work on. (I did that for this painting, Out of the Believer's Heart - I had to make a lot of onion skin paper for the dry land portion.)
When I was a young mom, I came across, or was given, a devotional book with a title something like "The Raspberry Kingdom." The author used the arduous task of picking wild raspberries as a metaphor for her own walk and relationship with God. I resonated with her. It gave me words for what I felt when I would go collect the wild logan berries (blackberries) along the trails in Eugene Oregon or the fruit in the wild, old orchard on Beacon hill in Spokane. And I think about it now as I collect various seeds for papermaking.
It is an arduous task, sometimes full of thorns and uneven ground. It takes energy and time, but the reward is great. Is it worth the reward? For me, it is like working and walking hand in hand with God the Creator. He shows me little metaphors – of the trials and tribulation on a small scale with a reward puts in perspective the larger scale of life. I think about the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, (Matt 6) and God the Father who cares for them, and who also cares for me. I find peace and quiet when I walk the trails. I talk with God about whatever is on my heart, and I listen. It is a place and time - that is about just learning to "be," to live in the moment.
I feel a deep satisfaction, when I make the paper from the gathered seeds; when I try out a new seed paper; And when I take it further and begin to create a painting from the paper I created. It is all a part of the process of making paper.
I also look forward to sharing the findings with those who come to make paper with me. I think it is interesting and probably speaks to our culture when a student asks where I was able to purchase the fluff I had collected. Have we spent too much time apart from nature and God’s natural kingdom, his creation?
I challenge you to go for a walk in the woods, or natural setting near you this week. Look around. See what treasures you can find in God’s creation and listen for the metaphors God reveals around you. Then tell me about it. I’d like to hear your story.
“Crack! Thud!” …. Silence … murmuring voices… “Julie!”
It was late, I had been drifting off to sleep. I wondered what Reena (my 15 year old daughter) and Sam were doing working on the basement reno so late.
Sam was in the living room figuring out his new phone and ignored the noises – thinking it was Reena doing something.
It actually was Reena, but she wasn’t working on the reno. She had opened the freezer to get something and was almost hit by the ice falling off the lid.
Talia (our other daughter) slept through it all.
On Saturday morning, Sam was scraping the popcorn stuff off the ceiling of the basement where we are renovating. He moved the freezer out of the way to do it. We took Reena to her dance class and left from there for Calgary to see our granddaughter for a 24-hour visit.
Monday and Tuesdays were normal busy days. No one worked on the basement. No one needed anything from the freezer.
Late Tuesday night (11:30 pm or so) Reena opened the large chest freezer, came to get her dad – and then Sam called my name. As I came downstairs, after dragging myself awake, I was greeted with, “I broke the freezer.” Something had happened when Sam moved it on Saturday, and it had been off for over 3 days.
My first thought was of how much food was in it, particularly the whole lamb I had recently purchased from the farmer’s market. In the past when confronted with this sort of dilemma, I would panic or accuse, or any number of reactions.
Instead of reacting, I chose to live in the moment and be present to the now, not the what if or what was. I felt calm as I checked out the situation in the freezer. Surprisingly most of it was still quite frozen. (I do keep a lot of turkey broth like ice whiich must have helped.) I then went to assess the freezer upstairs to see what room we might have up there to rescue what was still frozen in the chest freezer. Especially if it was truly broken, as it was midnight and we couldn’t go buy a new one.
While I started moving and shifting the food, Sam looked at the problem of the pulled out wires to see if he could figure it out.
It was not what I wanted to do. It was not what Sam wanted to do, but it was here before us and needed to be done.
By the time I had made room and moved all the (still mostly solid) frozen meat and some not so frozen fruit upstairs, (If stacked neatly it is amazing how much you can get into the little freezer above the fridge.) Sam had used a blower to clean out the dust, and discovered a wire had been dislodged but not broken. He had located a possible place for it to go back in, which was, of course, difficult to get to. We managed to do it between the two of us – and plugged the freezer in and IT ACTUALLY RUMBLED BACK ON! Weren’t we surprised!
Okay. Now what. The thought came to me that those big ice chunks that were now loose could be taken out – an opportunity to clean out the years of built up ice or we could just leave it and I could go back to bed. I opened the freezer – and decided to act on the thought. So we worked together and got it done, and moved back downstairs a portion of the food I had taken upstairs. By the time we were done the whole little midnight adventure had only taken about an hour or so, and I felt a deep satisfaction and thankfulness.
And we thanked God: for Reena paying attention to what she was feeling as she went into the freezer and acting on it, for a good solid freezer that can keep food so cold for 4 days, that it now worked again, and that we were able to be present to the situation and do what needed to be done.
We were talking earlier that evening at our home group about what it looks like to walk everyday with Jesus. We talked about the need to listen to the nudging’s of the Holy Spirit, to live in the present moment as we work out our calling in some of the most ordinary, mundane parts of life.
It could have been a very different experience if we had reacted differently.
Is it all just a matter of perspective? Any thoughts?
Spring is definitely here. I love watching the progress of the buds on the trees – The greening of the world as it comes back to life after winter. The poplar trees have all popped out their pussy tufts, which have elongated into the long fronds of silvery green and red buds. Just like in the painting, "Is it Spring Yet?" above. My tulips are getting their buds. And my eyes are burning today. Lately I have been ending the day with sore, dry, burning eyes. Today I am beginning it. It does not bode well for the day. Yes, I must have allergies to this season, as I experience it every year about this time. It is funny that I forget about it until after a few days of feeling it, and then it dawns on me – “Oh right! Its spring and this will be the new norm for awhile.”
I read the first paragraph in James this morning… “Consider it nothing but joy” when you face trials of any kind. “…the testing of faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:1-4)
A good set of verses for me today. Now how to consider it nothing but joy? Well, I still love to watch the buds grow, even if it does affect me. I love the steady lengthening of days. And as I take care of my eyes this year, I can look forward to the rest the warm compresses force me to take. Maybe I can start there.
Anyone else feeling the sting of allergies?
I wanted to share with you the process of the painting. I have added some details below. I wrote in a previous blog the beginning thoughts on why I painted this. If you missed it, you can read those here in this article Wonders of the Sea.
On wet watercolor paper, I poured liquid watercolor: blue, green and pink and I sprinked salt and rock salt on whie it was still wet. I was playing with color and letting whatever came from it, set the stage for the painting.
This method of painting challenges me to let go and engage in the process.
After it dried, and the salt had finished it's work. I looked at it until I saw possibilities.
I put masking fluid on theparts I wanted to save from the first pouring, and poured another layer of liquid watercolors - blue, pink and green.
I painted a layer of yellows and orange, before adding more masking fluid to save more of the light colors.
I put masking fluid on theparts I wanted to save from the first pouring, and poured another layer of liquid watercolors - blue, pink and green.
Once it is dry, I can begin to remove the salt and masking fluid by rubbing with the rubber pick up.
Sometimes it can just pull right off. I am never sure exactly how it will turn out until it is all removed.
Now I can see all that I had "saved" in the lighter colors. Now to make sense of it all.
This is the stage of the "pushing and pulling" that I talk about in classes. A wet brush and an brush with paint. Often with small brushes so it takes time.
Still more to go to finish it up. Can you see the changes?
The sketch above is, Jade Evelyn, our first granddaughter. She was born on Friday, March 4, 2016 at 10:20pm and weighed 6 lbs, 8 oz. I had the privilege of helping the new little family out last week in Calgary. Our son, Thaddeus and Danielle, are doing well in their new roles, and it was such a joy to watch them adore little Jade.
I found myself quite able to just sit and be with Jade. Have you seen those tiny little hands and feet in a new born? I marveled at the wonder of Jade’s creation. She had so recently been “knit together in her mother’s womb” and indeed is “intricately and wonderfully made.” What I wrote and sang about Psalm 139 last time took on new meaning.
I, who like to do, had found myself quite content to just sit and be with this little one, this beautiful creation and gift from God. She doesn’t have to do anything. I already love her and like to be with her.
And as I sat and pondered all of this, it occurred to me that I am like this with God. He loves and cherishes me just as I am. I don’t have to do anything or achieve anything to receive that love. It isn’t conditional. He loves me just as I am.
One of the painting exercises we did at the Art and Faith Retreat on Feb 5-7 was listen to the Tapestry Poem by Corrie ten Boom and respond with a drawing.
A response painting is a painting or drawing based on your own personal response to an event, a song, another painting as as in this case a poem. We all have responses or feelings to the events, people and things around us. Some of us are better at hiding those from others, even from our selves. This little excercise engages that part of ourselves we may not be aware of. It only takes about 15 - 20 minutes and you can use whatever materials you have on hand (paper & pencil, pen, markers, crayons, paint, clay, playdough etc.)
Instructions (read them through before beginning):
1) Read the poem, "Life is But a Weaving" in the image at the top of this page, out loud 2-3 times.
2) Let the poem sink in, let images come as you read.
3) Then draw, paint or create your response using images, color, lines, shapes - whatever seems right to you.
4) After you are finished, take a picture of your response and send it with a little explanation of what you were thinking of as you created it to julie(at)shedrewit.com.
With your permission, I will post it here with the others from the retreat.
Psalm 139: 7-16
I was talking to my massage therapist recently about fascia tissue, which is like a web or net of tissue that wraps around all the muscles organs and bones in the body. The fascia holds everything together, holds the shape with tensegrity and works to protect you. When you are injured or are cut, like in a surgery, you are immobile for awhile. Immobility causes the fascia to thicken and pull on the surrounding muscles, organs and bones. Apparently the fascia has a "memeory" and will hold on to the shape it formed in pain, which then puts everything off alignment. My massage therapist likened it to when you put the flat sheet on a bed and pull the corners tight, you can see the strech lines in the sheet. You may want that in a bed, but in an arm it causes tightness in the muscles and tendons. I have two spots from the surgeries I had in 2014, and it is a good chance they are the cause of continued stress in both of my arms. I can do a lot more now, but I have to still rest and stretch, and not overwork my arms – which can lead to back, neck and side pain and headaches. (I do have a tendency of forgetting to take breaks.)
This talk of a web of connective tissue led my thoughts back toward the phrases in the scripture listed above: “being knit together in my mother’s womb,” “intricately woven,” and “knit together in love.” These are phrases from the recent weekend retreat on art and faith that Sam and I led (Feb 5-7). Ephesians 4:15-16 says:
But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
As I think about what I have been learning about fascia, this scripture takes on some new significance. As a body of believers, we are affected by one another. When there is division, unforgiveness, pain and death, it affects the whole community. When we are working well together, it promotes growth and flexibility. The passage in Colossains becomes vital to the health of the body of believers, because we are truly knit together and it takes work to keep us knit together in love.
This year my growing edge has been in music. As I take time to listen, these melodies keep coming to me. I have been taking time to record these snippets of melody until they come togther. As I prepared for the retreat, and I contemplated the scripture above, one of the sets of snippets came together with the scripture and worked into the following song based on the verses we selected in Psalm 139:7-16.
The weekend retreat was about listening to the Word and responding with art (painting, poetry, music and this time we also had a contemplative weaving project.) Whether we have a large group or a small one, God works in our midst and it is beautiful. God takes each one another step on their journey. Sometimes it is breakthrough revelations, and sometimes just quiet awareness. My favorite part of the retreat is our closing service, where we share where God has met us, revealed himself to us. It is so beautiful.
Here are some pictures from the weekend:
Wonders of the Sea…
Have you ever really looked at a shell? They contain God’s amazing creativity and ingenuity. The shell grows with the creature inside of it. Even the tiniest ones are miniatures of the large ones.
I started collecting shells as a little girl in landlocked St. Louis, Missouri. My parents had taken a trip to Vancouver, BC and they brought back a shell package with a large scallop shell as the “basket” holding the other shells including a piece of bright pink and purple coral, a tiny starfish and sea horse. What a wonder! So beautiful! Such tiny detail! I loved to look at them and dream of finding them on actual ocean beaches. I found some fresh water clams in a slough area on a school field trip. I was thrilled.
When I was twelve, my family and I went on a Big Trip West. We were gone a month- driving and tent camping. We circled the western states, missing Nevada, even going into Canada to Vancouver Island. We saw and experienced many amazing things. One was the Oregon coast. My dream of walking an ocean beach and finding beautiful shells had come true. We combed the beach for shells, rocks and interesting driftwood. I was mostly interested in shells and hoped to find some whole ones. Mostly I found bits and pieces of shells.
Last summer, I joined my parents and sister at the Oregon coast. It is still beautiful and I still enjoy some beach combing, but now I also want to paint it or just sit and drink it all in. I love the crashing waves, the sea foam, the sea spray and all the wildlife. I love the tide pools - these miniature worlds of life and color.
As I watch the tide pool, I am reminded of what Jesus said about birds of the air and flowers of the field. (Matthew 6: 25-34) Small parts of creation, but examples to us. God desires our trust, “don’t worry about food, clothing.” He will be our provider. He who cares about those little things like flowers, birds, and sea creatures, cares even more for you and me. Isn’t that a wonder?
Last visit with you, I posted this possibility painting.
This is what I saw in it. It is still in progress.
How has God been taking care of the details in your life? Leave your comments below.
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Today as I have finished this painting, Saturation 2, I think again of how it felt to be in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia, with water below me and falling all around me, the sound of the water dancing, roaring, trickling as we walked around the 16 lakes and thousands of waterfalls. This has been on my mind now for a couple of years, ever since I took the trip to Croatia with my husband, Sam. Below I will show you the layers and process of this painting.
Like this painting, the idea of saturation has been building layer upon layer. As I look back I see roots of it in the artwork and study I was doing in 1994. This is my first painting on this journey (The Blessing Cup, finished in 2004).
One of the key passages of scripture for me was Ephesians 3: 16-19
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (NIV)
The phrase, “so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”(NRSV), resonated deeply in me with such a longing and desire. So in 2005 or so, I began to pray it for myself and my family.
There were other milestones along the way preparing me for the idea of saturation:
Now as I think again of how it felt there with water below me and falling all around me, with the sound of the water dancing, roaring, trickling as we walked around the lakes and waterfalls. I think of God who is the Living water, filling and spilling everywhere, all around. Filling to overflowing.
Saturation is being so full you overflow.
God wants to fill me (and you) to overflowing, so that I (and you) may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Every Day. Fullness. Not a trickle.
Then, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water,” (John 7:38), to saturate the world with God’s love and mercy, and bring life where it flows...
Are you ready to be filled to overflowing with the all of the fullness of God?
Let it flow.
I had been thinking of how to do this painting for a while before I finally got started. I wanted to create the texture of the limestone cliffs covered in vegetation using my handmade paper. You can see here the layers of the handmade paper on the canvas…
I used watercolor to get the initial colors on the handmade paper…
Adding ink for detail on the hanging, grass like, vines…
Next I sponged in layers of acrylic to create the trees and ground cover…
More acrylic layers creating depth and details…
Finally adding the water falls…
And the lake with reflections...
This morning, I woke thinking of Corrie ten Boom’s story. Do you know it? I read her book, The Hiding Place, a long time ago. She lived in the Netherlands during World War II and she worked in the clock shop with her family. When the Nazi’s invaded, she and her family put their lives at risk by hiding the Jews and smuggling them out of the country. They built a secret room in their home to keep the Jews concealed – their hiding place. They stood up, for a handful of people at a time, like bridge, creating a path to safety. Toward the end of the war, they were caught and sent to a concentration camp. Of her family, she alone survived to tell her heart wrenching, heroic story.
In the book of Esther, in the Bible, Esther had to risk her life to petition the king on behalf of her people, to do what was right. She said, “If I parish, I parish.” She stood in the gap, like a bridge to safety, and the evil Haman was defeated. (Esther 1-10) There has been a lot of talk this week in the news and social media about the refugees, and what happened in Paris, and what to do about ISIS. Doesn’t ISIS win, if we shut the doors on the refugees? Will we let fear control us? Can we be willing to take a risk, put ourselves in danger, for others? Can we stand in the gap and be a bridge to safety? It goes beyond bringing them into our countries, are we willing to help those who come here find work, learn English, and acclimate to life here.
The painting above, Standing in the Gap (watercolor and color pencil), is a part of the series I painted, God is My Refuge. When I first saw the natural bridge in Marble Canyon, Banff/Jasper National Park area, with the pine tree standing so tall, I thought of Jesus on the cross. It reminded me of the old visual that was often used in telling the gospel story. Where you have two cliffs separated by a gap. God is on one side and we are on the other, and the gap is our sin. We try to get across the gap of our sin that separates us from God, but we cannot succeed. Then God sent His son, Jesus, to bridge the gap for us. He died for us and rose again that we can be with him. And we can accept his love and walk across the bridge – and be in relationship with God.
In his book, Esther, Charles Swindoll wrote, “Think of the scientists, the inventors, the explorers, the technological experts, who have literally changed the course of history. Think of the courageous preachers down through time who have stood alone in the gap and made a difference.”
I want to be like Corrie ten Boom and Esther. Where do you stand?
Update on the painting of the North saskatchewan River West of downtown Edmonton. I decided to post the progression of the painting process and I will add more as I complete the painting.
These last two weeks I fully intended to finish that painting I started so I would be able to show you, but I didn’t. I would like to say that there was a good reason for this, but there isn’t. I procrastinated. I found many other things to do instead. I even found other paintings to start and work on.
This morning, I was going to get up early and finish it. Well, that didn’t happen either. So here I am thinking about procrastination instead. It made me think of the verses in Romans chapter 7, where Paul is talking about the law and sin, our human condition. In verse 15 he says, “I do not understand my own action. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” And again in verses 18-20:
18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Now you may think this is a bit extreme for procrastination, but it got me thinking. Why do I find myself procrastinating? What am I afraid of? What fear is my ego obsessed with now? Hmm. The fear of failure and what others will think of me and what I do, keeps looming over me.
I liked where I had started with the painting and I didn’t want to mess it up! Therefore, I started a smaller “practice” piece. I also wanted to work on taking a video as I worked. So, I tried that out on the practice one as well. (It will take more practice to get that right. It is hard to see through my hand what I am doing in the video.) I have attached the “practice painting” which actually I like how it turned out. And I have the tiny bit more of the one I am working on – you can see what it is more clearly.
I tell my students to play and practice and not to worry about getting it ‘right.’ Trust the process of where it takes you. It would be good to listen to my own advice.
Is procrastination bad? Whenever I let my fears rule me, letting my ego put up its defense and safety nets, I am hiding my true self even from me. I am not trusting God, but relying on myself. I am working too hard to get it all "right."
And I fail. Fear becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Isn’t it odd that when I acknowledge and work through my fears, they let go of me. For me, it is also taking a step further, an expectation to receive and be open to what God is sending my way. Trusting the process, letting go of my agenda.
If I was to say that I can do it on my own though, I would be untrue to the Holy Spirit who is nudging me and giving me the courage to see and face myself. With Paul I say, “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ Our Lord!
Can I learn to trust the process?
Do you find yourself procrastinating? What are the fears you are running from when you procrastinate?