Here are some paintings to contemplate on this weekend as we approach Easter...
Crown of Thorns (above)
And they clothed Jesus in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.”
Mark 15:17-20, 26
Take a close look at the Crown of Thorns (otherwise known as the Christ plant) that comes from Africa. If you look at its red flower you can see the hint of a cross and the blood red center – and the green leaves of life (and resurrection).
The Holy Place
watercolor, Lyra oil pencil
Framed original 16”x 20”
Jesus said to them (Peter, James and John), I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here and stay awake with me.”
And going a little farther, Jesus threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”
Then he came to his disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into a time of trial; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Matthew 26: 38- 42
The Blessing Cup
watercolor, colored pencil
Framed original 24” x 32”
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want ... He leads me in right paths for his name sake...
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil: my cup overflows.
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ?
The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?
I Corinthians 10:16
watercolor, colored pencil
Framed original 24” x 32”
As the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat upon it, His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow...The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know you were looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.”
Mark 15:17-20, 26
Christ is Risen! Alleluia!!
Textured Landscapes will be on the walls at the Carrot Coffee House on 118 Ave for the month of April, 2017! This is the first time I have showcased my paintings on handmade paper together. In the past, I have only showed one or two at a time with a themed show.
Open: April 5, 2017
Location: 9351 – 118 Avenue
Textured Landscapes: Paintings on Handmade Paper
From sweeping vistas to detailed florals as subject matter, I explored the versatility of my handmade paper and the mediums by which I could best capture them. Watercolor and mixed media on the handmade paper have a greater depth than other papers give.
The creation of specific pulps to create the texture or color I was trying to achieve is as much a part of the process as the painting itself, creating just one more layer in the process. I have experimented with different supports as well: Birch panels, watercolor paper and canvas. All of them adding a layer to the process.
Finally finished! I started this one before Christmas. Some ideas just take longer.
This painting is another one of Plitvice Lakes National Park. The theme is again of Saturation. There is so much water everywhere that the gnarly roots spread wide and far before dipping below the surface. The water was clear. The trees bowed, and turned and spread their branches wide showing off their adornment in shades of green. It was glorious and I wanted to capture all of that.
I was experimenting with putting my handmade paper on the canvas again. This time I wanted the paper to be the land and trees in foreground on top of the cliff where the water pools before falling over the edges. I used different papers for the different parts of the landscape. I used an onion skin paper for the middle ground on the left and some of the tree trunks on the right. The center clump of trees and ground was a paper with hints of peach fabric and thistle. The tree on the left and the one on the right edge are from a thin, light gray paper with red and blue threads. The foreground corners and bottom edge are from a pink paper made with poplar seed, red, bue and purple and white threads. The leaves are from a yellow and green cottonwood seed paper.
I painted acrylic on the canvas as the background and the water. I painted watercolor and watercolor crayon on the handmade paper.
Has it really been so long since I wrote to you last? I had some health and home issues that apparently sapped me of some of my creative energy – more than I realized. It is disappointing to find myself without inspiration and energy. Just enough to keep me going but not more. I was trying to get a video about the art and faith retreat done as well as finish a painting I had been working on since December.
I was talking with my spiritual last week, sharing with her where I was at and about the past month. I could feel the weight of everything. My spiritual director asked me to take a minute and just listen to what God said about it all. And I heard “grace;” to give myself grace. Life happens – it was stressful, even if it wasn’t huge.
We had our Enneagram class on Thursday night. One of the types we were covering that evening was the “3,” which is my type. I shared a lot, including where I go in stress. There is a high side and a low side to the type where I go under stress. The low side (in a nutshell) is that I can feel a failure and just give up, quit. The high side is to rest, take care of myself, and for me, it is also to spend time with God, resting.
Two mornings later, as I was thinking it all through again, it clicked for me. I needed to give myself grace. I had been taking care of myself and resting, leaning into God. I hadn’t given up. It took much longer than I wanted, to get the things done. The video is below. The painting I am working on is still a work in progress. I can give myself grace. God loves me for who I am not what I accomplish.
This reminds me of the story of Elijah I read this month. (1 Kings 17-19) Here is a prophet who walks closely with God. For seven years of drought, God is providing for his needs. With God, he confronts and battles the 400 false prophets of Baal in an altar competition with God providing the consuming fire on a drenched offering. But when he is threatened with death by Jezebel, he runs away in fear and discouragement to Mount Horeb to talk to God. And God gives him grace and rest. God informs him that he is not the only one left who follows God. God has more work for him but provides him with an assistant that he will eventually pass on the work to.
Abiding in God, in Jesus, isn’t always going to go as we wish it to. It can be hard. We can feel discouragement and fear. I do not always handle it well. I am thankful that I did this time. Are you like me? Do you need to give yourself grace and space?
How do you respond to the feelings? Where do you go under stress?
Do you need to take a rest, give yourself grace? Consider a retreat to refresh your soul...
I have a morning routine…I take my breakfast and pot of tea and go sit in my comfy chair in our living room. Currently, it faces the room and I can rest my eyes on the paintings hanging there. I do change up my paintings every few months, so I can see different ones. You see, the paintings tell me a story. Some tell it more loudly than others. Sometimes they remind me of places I have been, students I have taught and places that have tugged on my heart.
In my home group, we have been reading through Brad Jersak’s book "Can You Hear Me?" One chapter spoke of a meeting place that you can go in your mind and meet with Jesus. We did a tuning in exercise where we were to think of favorite spots where you “enjoy walking or sitting with the Lord” and could I “go there in my mind” and meet with Jesus. As I sat there I realized, how many places I could go – and that is what some of my paintings are for me.
Some of my paintings were born out of a moment that I spent meeting with God. For these paintings, there is a scripture and even a meditation that lingers with it. As I gaze on these paintings the truths that God has shown me come back to me, they become a meeting place for me to walk with God and rest in his presence and linger on the topic he has for me.
Most recently I finished this painting/drawing, "Lead Me Home", (which also has a song to go with it). I received this as a vision back in 2009 while walking and meditating in a prayer labyrinth. Jesus wanted me to “let the passion out” and I responded with being scared to do so. And the image of the little girl holding Jesus hand appeared before me. I don’t have to do things on my own, be the best or live up to these huge expectations in my own mind. Jesus wants me to take his hand, as a little girl, and trust him with all of me. From March 2009 until December 2016, it has been a process to understand what it means – to let out the passion and take hold of Jesus’ hand. It has not been easy. He has shown me other things along the way, but we have often come back to this one.
As part of this theme, in December, I also painted this one for my granddaughter with a blessing for her to walk with Jesus and know his love for her, just as I have been walking and learning this myself.
“Tuning in Exercise for you to try:
(Brad Jersak, "Can You Hear Me?" p.140)
The drawing, "Lead Me Home", and the song are part of the newly revised and expanded devotional "God is my Refuge". In this tenth anniversary edition, there are eighteen full color paintings, with meditations and scripture reflecting on the six Hebrew words that we translate as “refuge.” Included is a study guide on the six Hebrew words.
It is going to the printer in February. The cost of the book will be $22.00 (CAD) each. Pre-order your copy until Feb 28 at a discounted rate of $19.00(+GST).
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.