This week I have been preparing for Deep Freeze Festival. This means deciding what to take to display in my little booth. I spend time looking for all the paintings I have finished and tucked away to mat later. There is a lot of decision making involved. I try to be efficient in so many ways, but for some reason deciding what to take to a show and how to mat and frame the painting feels more like a long, slow, grudging process. It is something I put off as long as possible - until the week before a show goes up. So, I spend time matting and framing my newest pieces. You would think this could be easy – yet I sift through all my mat boards to find the perfect mat that brings out the painting in just the right way. My art room becomes a disaster as I work. I find a painting I misplaced when I ran out of time matting for another show—and tucked it away with the mats. I don’t have time to get it all done myself. Do I ask my daughter to package the magnets? Out of all this chaos will come a neat and tidy show.
I don’t like being unorganized and indecisive when I wallow in the decision between a yellow ochre mat and a slate blue mat where both look and bring out completely different parts to a painting. But this, too, is part of the process of a painting. Really a painting isn’t complete until I show it and share it. It needs an audience to receive it and make comments on it. There is a part of me that goes into every painting. It can only tell its story if someone else sees it, lets it speak to them, even wrestle with or connect with it. At that point, I let the painting go. Henry Nouwen wrote, “Passion is a kind of waiting - waiting for what other people are going to do.” As artists, our passion leads us to wait for the response from the audience, whether we are painters, musicians, playwrights, actors or dancers.
Come by my little space at the Artisan Market at the Deep Freeze: A Byzantine Winter Festival, and take a look at my paintings and let them “speak to you.” I will be waiting to hear what you experience from noon to 6 pm both Saturday and Sunday.
Deep Freeze is on 118 Ave between 90 St and 94 St. A Family Festival with lots to do besides the art booths. The festival is on from noon to 10pm both Saturday and Sunday. The Artisan market is at 91 St and 118 Ave.
Water flowing, filling, washing, spilling, around, over, under: this is saturation.
I invite you to imagine yourself on a board walk with water flowing under you from a lake spilling over to dozens of waterfalls. On nearby cliffs more water is spilling down, surrounding you with the rushing of water so loud you cannot hear the person next to you.
The Waterfalls of this show are from different parts of the world. The inspiriation came from Plitvice lakes National Park in Croatia.
In some of my classes this year, we explored the painting of the northern lights. I have only seen them a couple of times myself, but I know of others who have seen amazing ones. This fall we could see a faint wave of green in the sky in the field by our house. The movement of the green wave was slow, barely discernable. Years ago, when we were driving the Queen Elizabeth Highway (2) at night, we stopped to watch bands of red light weaving across the sky. What an awesome sight to behold! Imagine it with more colors streaming brilliantly across the dark night sky, like a "glorious multitude of angels" singing glory to God in the highest!
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” Luke 2:8-14
I have added again some of my students work here with the northern lights to help you imagine the glorious multitude of angels.
There are a few videos of the northern lights, aurora borealis, on youtube. I selected one in "real time" by Ronn and Marketa Murray. The second is a time lapse one by Maciej Winiarczyk. Enjoy and think of angels singing "Gloria in the highest!"
This fall, I was privileged to teach a few different classes. It was fun to work with each of my students and watch their progress! My students usually pick their own subject matter and I teach them what they need for each painting or drawing. Some of the students are beginners, others have been taking lessons for several years.
In the watercolor classes we did some pouring watercolor in the northern light paintings; and then each student brought in photos to work from in a variety of subject matter.
I didn't remember to take pictures of everyone's work, but I would like to present this student gallery of a portion of the paintings both finished and ones "in progress" from the watercolor classes. Isn't it lovely! They did beautiful work!
In Psalm 18, the psalmist is in distress and cries out to God. God hears his cry and this wonderful imagery of God in the storm clouds coming to do battle and rescue the psalmist covers the next twelve verses. Picture the images as you read Psalm 18:
Psalm 18: 6-19
6 In my distress I called upon the LORD;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
7 Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
8 Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
9 He bowed the heavens, and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
10 He rode on a cherub, and flew;
he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering(5643), around him,
his canopy thick clouds dark with water.
12 Out of the brightness before him
there broke through his clouds
hailstones and coals of fire.
13 The LORD also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice.[a]
14 And he sent out his arrows, and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings, and routed them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O LORD,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
16 He reached down from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of mighty waters.
17 He delivered me from my strong enemy,
and from those who hated me;
for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity;
but the LORD was my support.
19 He brought me out into a broad place;
he delivered me, because he delighted in me.
You know why God comes to the aid of those crying for help? “he delivered me, because he delighted in me.”(v 19, emphasis mine). God takes delight in me, and in you!
I love this image. God wants to come to the rescue to draw us up and love us, delight in us.
One thing I notice here. God acts after we call to him for help. Now picture again this image of the storm and God’s hand reaching down.
16 He reached down from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of mighty waters.
What would happen if God is in the storm cloud and he reaches in to hold you fast yet you resisted and didn’t go into this tender hand that reaches down to you?
What if you did? What if you crept into this big, giant hand, this gentle hand that is coming out of this thunder clapping, lightning shooting storm that is billowing around you, With wild wind and wild water flying around, what if you trusted him in the midst of the storm. You climbed up and into his hand and he held you close.
How does that feel? What would it take to trust him?
I so often get to thinking that everything depends on me. It is up to me to solve this or get that done. I see big projects, I make a plan and jump in over my head. It is too much to do on my own. There isn’t enough time. I become overwhelmed, discouraged and snappy because I am not living up to these high expectations I have for myself. Or if I do get it all done on my own, I am stressed and resentful and exhausted at the end of it all.
Take that image of God’s hand reaching down. I have a choice to continue to do things my way, on my own. Or I can acknowledge that I need help. When I am seizing control whether this is with other people or with God, I am not trusting them. When I trust someone, I have to let them do whatever it is and not take over. Otherwise where is the trust?
I find that when things seem fine it is harder to let go and trust. I like being in charge too much.
What if storms are reminders that we aren’t really in control, that God wants to be our refuge – to walk with us daily. He wants us to trust in him.
I am learning to ask for help, to not try to do it all on my own.
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
One summer I was at the beach in Oregon, just watching those crashing waves come in and pour over the sand and rock. I had been contemplating this verse in Lamentations. I thought about how those waves are never ceasing. They just come and come, over and over. Endless. Never ceasing.
Even when the water seems almost calm and still the waves continue the gentle lapping against the shore like a breath – like breathing. In and out, in and out.
If you stand in the ocean and let it run into you with the power of the waves. They can rock you on your feet.
God’s love, constant and never ceasing, is like those ocean wave that just rushes in not stopping, limitless.
Think about God’s love as waves of love washing over you. Let him rock your world with the power of his love. His mercy never ceasing, his love never ending, washing over you, breathing into you.
Think about that today. Where does that take you?
This will be another verse for the Art Vocabulary of the Soul Retreat, October 28-30, 2016 on Saturation: Eph 3:16-20
Come join us and see where God wants to lead you and speak into your heart.
Only a few spots left- don’t delay. Sign up today.
I pray that according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-20)
When I was studying Ephesians, a few years ago, this prayer stood out. I have long yearned to be able to comprehend, really comprehend, God’s love for me in my inmost being, and I yearned to be filled with all the fullness of God. Around 2001, I started a year of praying this prayer over myself and my family. I changed the pronouns to make the prayer personal.
What got me started on this today was thinking of praying this over Reena, our daughter who is in South Korea for a year. This is how I would do it. And if you are reading this, please pray this with me, for her:
I pray that according to the riches of Your glory, LORD, that You may grant that Reena may be strengthened in her inner being with power through Your Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in her heart through faith as she is being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that Reena may have the power to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that she may be filled with all the fullness of God.
As things go with me there was a season of praying every day but as time passed, I prayed less often until I was doing something else entirely and had virtually forgotten about it. It was a few years later when I was writing about the Living Water Series that I realized my prayers had been answered and were still being answered. I can look back now and see how God was working in me:
Back then, I had a feeling that I needed to do more in the Living Water Series but I wasn’t quite sure how or what to do. So I took a weekend at King’s Fold Retreat Centre to listen to God – to see what else I was meant to do for it, what I was missing. I read through all of the scriptures and my notes again. Then I went out to walk the labyrinth. The labyrinth is a prayer walk which allows you to focus on God while you pray and listen to him. As I walked, I asked God what else and He answered, “You need to let the passion out.” I responded, “I’m scared.” He answered by giving me a picture. The picture was of Him holding my hand like a child holds the hand of their father.
I hurried back to my room and started writing. I had never felt anything so amazing before and words just started pouring out onto the paper. From this outpour of those words came four poems and the ideas for the last paintings for the Living Water series.
As I look back on it now, I can see how God was filling me up and pouring through me. It was beautiful and I yearned for more of it. I have always wanted to experience that again, in the exact same way, but as I look back on it now, I can see God doesn’t tend to repeat encounters exactly. He is unpredictable in how he lavishes us with his love. He is full of surprises and the evidence is all around us if we would just open up our eyes and our hearts to him.
It makes me wonder how often do I block him by not “letting the passion out” and by not holding his hand? I have written several times of my need to let go and trust. It does seem to be a daily battle. God doesn’t want to just trickle his Living Water through me, He wants to saturate me, if I will let him.
This leads me to the idea of saturation. God wants to saturate us, fill us up to over flowing, to spill over with that love to the world around us.
One of the last paintings I did for the Living Water Series: Out of the Believer’s Heart, was based on John 7:37-38 and Ezekiel 47. In Ezekiel 47, the water flows out of the temple and brings life to the world. We are the temple for the Holy Spirit. He flows through us and out into the world.
In 2013, I went all the way across the world to Croatia to see the Plitvice Lakes National Park, just to hear God sing to me through the waterfalls just how much he wants to saturate me.
More on the theme of Saturation:
I am Loved poem - one of the 4 poems I mention above
Blessing Cup painting - I painted over a ten year period, 1994-2004. After the Living Water Series was complete, I realized that God had been showing this theme of Saturation early on with this painting.
"Clip,clop. Clip,clop." Imagine our surprise as this buck came around the corner...
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 New International Version (NIV)
Last week, Sam and I took some time with our daughter, Reena. We went to a vacation rental on Herron Island in the Puget Sound. We also met up with our son, his wife, our grandbaby, my parents and my sister. What a fun island to explore and a wonderful place to enjoy each other’s company! There were a lot of deer on the island that were not afraid of people. I still can't believe a buck came up on the deck and tried to join us for dinner! I even got in a little plein air painting on the two beaches. It was a time to celebrate together!
After our visit, we went our separate ways. Sam and my way was to take Reena to the airport (at 3 am) where she was off on an adventure to South Korea. She will be attending school there, grade 11, for a year. She begins school on Monday, August 22.
It is strange to not have her at home, this is a new season for us with our youngest gone. Our other daughter is still at home, but she is independent with her own vehicle and job that keeps her busy. I miss Reena, but I am excited for her too. It is kind of bittersweet.
With all of these changes, it is good to remember, as Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 describes, there is a season for everything. This isn’t forever and something else will change. As I learn to walk in the present moment, I can take things as they come, not worrying about the future or agonizing over the past.
The following poem and painting I did when our oldest son, Thaddeus, was in Capernwray Bible School in England. It seems fitting with our youngest so far away in South Korea.
New things come, old things pass.
It is hard to let go.
It is hard to say good-bye to what was,
Treasured moments; the good, the bad
letting go is part of living.
It is part of loving.
There will be new beginnings;
Such is the circle or spiral we live in.
We cannot hold on to the present.
It must fly
And the empty nest
is the memory we have left.
Oh how abundant is your goodness
That you have laid up for those who fear you,
And accomplished for those who take refuge in you,
In the site of everyone.
It has been about a year and a half since I changed my website and art business from SheDrewIt Design to Julie Drew -Art and Faith. I did this after talking with a business coach who encouraged me to speak out my story, who I am. If I want to be about art and faith – then say so. I debuted with it last year at the art walk and at times it felt awkward. It is a bit like the verse above – proclaiming my faith in the site of everyone.
This year at the art walk I noticed the difference in myself. I was more confidant as I talked to people about the scripture behind the paintings. Several times over the weekend I heard the sighs and the comments of the peace people felt when they came into my tent and viewed my art. I had people actually come back to me again over the course of the three days.
I felt privileged to be a part of whatever God was stirring up in them. I had random people come up and thank me for being so bold. I had a lot of interesting conversations that would not have happened if I hadn’t hung it on my tent for all the world to see. I am thankful to be able to share myself more freely, to be myself.
A few weeks ago, I had a call from the person at the Whyte Ave Wellness centre who is arranging paintings for display. She loves my work and has one of my paintings. She promoted me to the owner by showing him my website and the Alberta landscape paintings that I would be showing. Proclaiming my faith on my business card almost lost me the chance to show at this space, until the owner was shown my artwork. He loves it! His eyes danced with appreciation when it was all displayed. Yeah!
So if you are in the Bonnie Doon area, pop into the Whyte Avenue Wellness Centre. In the lobby, I have 11 paintings of Alberta, which will hang there until the end of December. (We go there regularly for massage, which I recommend.)
How do you put your faith in the site of everyone?
Good news!!- The show has been liked so much it is has been extended into January, 2017.
I am excited to announce that 11 paintings in the Alberta Landscapes Series will be on display in the reception area of the Whyte Avenue Chiropractic & Wellness Centre through (originally Dec 2016) January.
The Centre is located: 8923 82 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB.
One of the things I like to do in the summertime is to go out sketching and painting “en plein air.”
En plein air (French pronunciation: [ɑ̃ plɛn ɛːʁ]), or plein air painting, is a phrase borrowed from the French equivalent meaning "open (in full) air". It is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors, also called French: peinture sur le motif ("painting of the object(s) or what the eye actually sees"), where a painter reproduces the actual visual conditions seen at the time of the painting. This method contrasts with studio painting or academic rules; those might create a predetermined look. (Wikipedia)
It is different to paint from life than just using photos. Photos tend to flatten the image. When I hike, I take a camera and at least a small sketchbook, much to my family’s chagrin. (I had to learn to sketch quickly and take photos on the go, but I seem to be perpetually lagging behind. After all I had an agenda – capture as many ideas/ photo references as possible.)
Even so, it is nice to be with people who don’t mind sitting still for a bit. I have a friend who invited me to Kananaskis Country several times. 3- 5 days of hiking and painting and relaxing with no one waiting for me to get done. On these occasions, I would pack up a backpack full of supplies and carry them the distance and come home with a mostly finished painting.
When hiking, I want to get a great picture or idea – and capture it. I would come home with hundreds of photos (with digital photography it is thousands of photo references!) and a few sketches for the depth perception. From these, I start planning paintings. I sometimes go on a hike with a specific idea for which I am seeking sketches and photo references.
I enjoy taking the time to sketch, but it isn’t just the need to paint what I see that draws me to the outdoors. I have learned that sometimes it is nice to even just sit and absorb the beauty without trying to draw it. It feel’s a bit like I’m “drinking” in God’s creation. There are so many metaphors in creation that lead back to God. In the stillness of just being present, as I sit and listen and wait in quiet, I can hear and see the metaphors and things that God is whispering to me.
For God alone my soul waits in silence… Psalm 62
It has been a long journey, this learning to wait, to enjoy moments, not to be rushing on to the next thing to do or paint. For me, it is a process of letting go of agendas, of accomplishment, and of worrying about making the people around me happy with me. At times, I fall back into the old patterns, but I am learning to recognize this in myself. On a hike I don’t take quite so many photos, and I sit and absorb as much as I sit and draw/paint.
A couple of years ago, my husband, Sam, and I took a trip to Europe. Since we were flying, I had to find compact art supplies that I could take on the plane. Traveling light. Now it is my art/camera travel bag for wherever I am going – hiking, road trip etc. I can even pair that down to a smaller size and take just the essentials.
This Saturday morning (July 23), I will be teaching en plein air on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River in Devon. I will be teaching sketching as well as painting: how to capture what is before us; what to paint, what to leave out; and eye training. There is still room in the workshop, if you would like to come.
Are you curious about what is in my art-camera bag?
When I read the old testament – particularly the prophets I see this God with an achingly Big Heart yearning for his people to “turn to him and live” (Amos 5). God doesn’t ‘need us,’ but he does long for a relationship with us. He went so far as to die for us.
I was thinking of this as I read Psalm 13:1 – “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” Does God ever wonder that about me? The following “conversation” is the result of that wondering…
How long, my daughter, will you turn away from Me and go your own way?
When will you trust Me with all of yourself?
Don’t you know how much I long to hold you as I walk with you?
I am right here next to you; don’t you see me? Can’t you feel my presence?
When will you let Me lift the burden from your shoulders?
Let me enfold you in My embrace. I have loved you since before you were born. I knit you together in your mother’s womb. I know your past, I know your present and I know your future.
Won’t you let go and trust me?
Oh my Lord and Father, I want to trust you, I do. I just don't know how to let go. Why do I keep wanting to take control?
Oh my child, it is fear that keeps you from trusting me. In order to trust me you need to let go of your fear. You hold onto it like armor, yet it is full of holes and lies. Your fear and your ego tell you that only you can solve or achieve what is before you. This is not true. Open your eyes to My truth, I am the way, I am your life. Walk with me. Let me show you who you really are, whom I made you to be.
I am afraid, Lord.
I know. That is the point, my child. Let me hold your hand. We will do this together. Trust Me.
How many times have you done this, Lord, given me the courage to walk into your trust, holding your hand? Too many to count. Yet I have to be reminded to trust each time. Oh how stubborn I can be. How do you have patience for me?
Oh my child, I am patient because I love you and I delight in in you. You are mine and I will hold you fast.
Take my hand.
I invite you to the breathtaking beauty of the coast with its awe inspiring coast with its cliffs and expanses of ocean from the mists to the sunshine. I enjoy painting the details of the animal life and the wonder of the tide pools. I worked mostly in watercolor, but for some of the paintings I used my handmde paper to capture the texture and feel of the scene.
I have scheduled two days to go and do painting demonstrations there and answer and answer any questions people have of my art. Come Join me - I would welcome your visit!
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.