Mixed Media Collage Art
by Laraine E Centineo

The mixed media collage art of Laraine caught my attention because of the fresh spontaneity of her expression. This Christian artist passionately pursues her calling and was generous enough to share her work and her story. Laraine's art is sumptuous in color and texture, possessing a depth because of who she is in Christ. Here is her story as she tells it.

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Solomon's Temple
Mixed Media Collage

"In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites had come out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel,... he began to build the temple of the LORD." 1 Kings:6:1

TRAVELING ONE WAY

A driving mistake showed me my life was headed down the wrong road.

We lived in a suburban area near a large city. I had never driven in the city until I enrolled my daughter in ballet classes there.

On the day of my daughter's first ballet class, we bravely ventured toward the city and its bustling streets shadowed by towering skyscrapers. I gripped the steering wheel until my knuckles turned white as I tried to keep pace with the traffic, bumping over potholes like a cowboy riding a bronco.

"Mommy, can we go home?" my daughter asked, her voice trembling.

"Shh, not yet," I replied, beads of perspiration breaking out from my forehead.

I glanced at the directions I had taped to my dashboard, and looked up to scan my surroundings. "Whoa! That's the street." My body jerked sideways as I zigzagged a right turn onto a small side street. Ahead, I spotted a sprawling intersection. "Look!" I exclaimed as I recognized the next street in the driving directions. "We're almost there!"

When I reached the intersection, I turned onto an oddly empty avenue and drove half a block down the street. Then suddenly she shrieked, "Mommy, what's that noise?"

The wail of a siren blared louder behind me. My heart pounded wildly as I looked in my rear-view mirror. A police car with blue flashing lights rushed toward me, and an officer, his face flushed and his eyes bulging, motioned for me to pull over.

I pulled off the road. My body shook, and I felt as though someone had dropped a lead ball into my stomach.

"Lady," the policeman shouted as he jumped out of his car and charged toward me, "just what do you think you're doing?"

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Green Pastures
Mixed Media Collage

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” Psalm 23:1-2

"Officer, please," I said. "what did I do?"

"What did you do?" he asked as the veins bulged on his forehead. "You're kidding!" He pointed and said, "Lady, can't you see you're driving down a one-way street—in the wrong direction?"

I looked ahead. In shock, I saw the oncoming traffic.

"Officer, I'm sorry. I didn't know. The street was clear." My eyes welled with tears. "It seemed right. I have never driven in the city before...and my daughter's ballet lessons...."

The officer bent over and looked at my daughter, whose big brown eyes stared back at him in fear.

"Ballet lessons?" he said. The flush drained from his face, and his bulging eyes receded into his head. "Listen, lady, I shouldn't do this... I'm not going to give you a ticket! But this is serious—if I hadn't stopped you, you could have gotten killed! Do you understand?"

"Now turn your car around and get going!" he ordered.

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Beyond the Door
Mixed Media Collage

“Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in….” Revelation 3:20

Later, as I thought about my experience, I recalled a time when I traveled another road—in the wrong direction. I call the road "Busyness Avenue."

As a Christian, I spent years traveling this crowded highway, caught up in the busy traffic of life. Under pressure, I planned, studied, worked, raised a family, volunteered, chauffeured and socialized. I met deadlines and made decisions. The way seemed right.

Now I realize it wasn't the right way. Overworked and overwrought, my attitude toward others lacked love. Besides that, I had neither peace nor joy.

Mixed media collage artClick to enlarge.

You are the Branches
Mixed Media Collage

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

John 15:4 says, "No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." I wasn't relying on the Lord to guide my life. Instead, I had been making my own decisions.

Jesus didn't intend that I control my life. In Philippians 2:13 we read, "For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." Jesus longed to lead me, but He waited patiently on a quiet side street for me to ask for His guidance.

There, the Lord wanted to reveal His plan for my life, a plan that suited my talents and my temperament and encouraged love for others—one that brought me peace and joy, one that glorified God.

I wanted my life to glorify Him. "Lord," I cried one morning, "Where have I gone wrong?" Between raising my family, cooking, cleaning, working and all else that I had been doing, I felt like I had crashed head-on into a Mack truck. "Please," I pleaded in desperation, "show me Your way."

Gradually, God showed me a new way of living. As I prayed and meditated on His Word, He spoke to me. Often I wordlessly heard this question whispered into my heart, "Why do you push yourself, Laraine?"

"Lord, I don't know," I answered.

Gently He told me why.

I had felt pressure to fulfill others' expectations. When holidays came, I played hostess. When asked to chair committees, I agreed. When requested to work overtime, I stayed late. My need for approval set up a roadblock, turning away God's plan for my life.

Finally, I understood the truth, and my heart filled with sorrow.

However, the Lord encouraged me. I read one morning in Jeremiah 29:11, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

I prayed, "Lord, give me the wisdom and courage to make new choices."

Changing direction wasn't easy, but with God's help, I bypassed the intersection of "Approval Street" and Busyness Avenue."

As I began to say "no," I had more free time. At first the Lord led me to care for my health. In the mornings, after my family left for the day, I started walking outdoors. I began preparing and eating healthy meals instead of junk food on the run. I stopped working an extra night. Instead I read in the evenings, and eventually, at the Lord's prompting, I began to write.

Other changes took place, too. Soon I noticed a sense of joy and peace welling up inside of me. As a result, I felt more love for God and others. How patient the Lord was with me! How much better His way than mine! How much I praise Him for what he has done in my life! I pray, "Let my life continually glorify you, oh Lord."

POSTSCRIPT: Since the publication of “Traveling One Way” in “Journey—A Woman’s Guide to Intimacy with God,” in 2002, Laraine marvels at where the Lord has led her to today.

Although continuing to write, she eventually began creating mixed media collage greeting cards for fun. “As I tore decorative papers, applied paint, glued wire, broken jewelry and fabric onto the surface of my creations,” she shares, “I felt God’s presence. Lord,” I prayed, “use this gift to glorify you.”

God answered her prayer. Soon, Laraine began to create larger pieces of mixed media collage and experimental art that she framed and named after scripture. Her hope was to encourage viewers of her work to read the Bible—to discover Jesus and his love for all people within it’s pages.

Eventually Laraine had several solo shows, exhibited her mixed media collage artwork at local art leagues, and in New Zealand’s “International Collage “Exhibition and Exchange.” Presently she teaches “Tiny Treasures Collage Artwork and Cards“, and “Paper Mania and Collage” workshops in New Jersey and Sanibel, Florida. Laraine also exhibits and speaks at women’s functions.

She continues to ask the Lord to guide her, and to use her mixed media collage artwork to bring praise to Him.

“But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in You; may those who love your salvation always say, ‘The Lord be exalted!’” —Psalm 40:16

To enjoy more of Laraine’s mixed media collage art check out her website.



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