Do I belong or should I ask that question?

by Wanda Bird
(Virginia)

I am "out of the gate" again at age 53 excitingly pursuing art and trying to get organized. I joined CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts) back in November.

But, when I see my fledgling work surrounded by the "more profound," more experienced work of other artists I cringe a bit. I even entered two calls for art right away just to set some initial goals for myself. I didn't win and was surprised by my reaction, but I grew and realized a lot just by doing those.

Am I the "pinky toe" of the body (ie: all the parts are necessary) or am I just kidding myself? Maybe I don't belong there or maybe I should see it as a learning experience and most of all direction if my Lord wants me there.

I AM SO THANKFUL FOR YOU! I think I need to re-read your book at this point and all the articles on this site! I am going to think of you now as my personal art coach. Can I cry on your shoulder from time to time?

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On Painting Christ's Image
by: Wanda Bird

Hi again Rosie! I re-read your post and don't think I addressed your question specifically on painting the image of Christ. I would encourage you to go to the CIVA website, (Christians in the Visual Arts) and go to network or art images and see all the offerings of work that so many Christian artists are doing and have done. Some of the more well known artists in the group have done many paintings of Jesus. These are art professors and artists working in all kinds of media with recognition in galleries and places all over the world.
For my two cents worth I don't think it's at all a sin to paint images of Christ. True, we do not know what he looked like and yes He is Holy and we will only know for sure when we see him face to face. Many of the great masters painted Him as well.
I just finished utilizing the Biola University Lent project where each day leading up to Easter I receive a devotional with a piece of art, scripture, music and a poem. There were a bunch of classical works as well as contemporary ones that included images of Christ.
It was very worshipful for me.
Then there is the well known art work of Christ (a dark bearded robed Christ) knocking at the door. We know Christ's ethnicity. We know from archeological and scholarly evidence what the clothing looked like from the time period that he walked the earth. He is always with us wherever we are in our walk with Him. I say allow this lady her personal opinion (cause that's where she is with Christ) but don't let it determine yours and where you are in your walk with Christ Jesus and your art making. I look forward to looking up your blog and seeing your contributions!

To Wanda
by: Rosie Foshee

I like your comment our art is our offering to Christ. That is encouraging. I always say and also ask in prayer, enable me in my art to bring glory to You. I feel we are not artists unless the Lord enables us, and we still must practice, practice, practice to build our skills. The reason for that is that the Lord created us, and He wants us to look to Him. He knows how we are made, hands, fingers, arms and all, and none of us are the same, if you notice people's paintings, as we view these paintings, we end up being able to identify those paintings by their artist. I can spot Greg Olsen's paintings without being told it is his work of art. We end up identifying that painting as a Greg Olsen work of art. I feel God is behind this in our art. Each one of us, when we turn our lives over to him, He enables us in our art work, and we have a special gift to offer to Him, a work of art to bring glory to Him, to share with others. Even in creation, He created everything out there. Even if we plant seeds or bulbs for flowers for art, He steps in bringing the sunshine and rain to enable those flowers to spring forth. Even all of creation, whatever we paint, is to be an offering, as you shared, and to bring glory to our Lord. Thank you for sharing with me. Sincerely, Rosie Foshee

You are Painting For Him
by: Wanda Bird

Rosie I just thought I would write a note of encouragement on your post.
The world of art is by nature a critical one. I don't fully understand why yet. When I was in college pursuing my art degree in the '80's we would have in some classes "class critique" where we students would evaluate each other's works and the teacher would chime in as well. I always thought that that was not what I came there for. I wanted to hear from the professional only. But sometimes others thoughts and insights can be a helpful thing I suppose. However since our individual making of art and being creative is highly personal I don't think others opinions come into it. I've always been sensitive to criticism and can easily give up in the wake of it. But I've
learned in my 54 years that my art is my offering to Christ, it is what it is because of where I am at the moment in terms of skill and where my soul and mind meet. I've also learned in studying human nature and psychology that critical people cannot usually be made to stop being just that. Remember that you are painting for Jesus. It is your personal offering to him.
"What can I bring Him poor as I am, if I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb." As far as your dealing with this lady, (and I know you didn't ask for this advice) maybe tell her that you were hurt by her critical spirit or just let her be her critical self and walk in calm assurance that your paintings are your offerings to Christ. He loves whatever we bring him with a spirit of giving! God bless you in your art making!

Am I to Paint Jesus, Or just things from His Creation?
by: Rosie Foshee

When I look at the art of others, I too feel inadequate to paint for Jesus. And feeling inadequate, I finish a painting, and it takes me awhile to get back into painting.

Yet I feel this call upon my life to paint and to write for Him. I blog about the Bible passages that are the inspiration for my art. I felt the call first to write, and in the last few years, this desire to paint.

One day someone wanted to see my work so I took some of my paintings to show this person, and decided to show the ladies in our Sunday School class. So I took some paintings to our Sunday School class one Sunday, and one of the ladies was critical of my paintings of Jesus. She said no one knows what Jesus looked like, and turned her head so as to not look at my paintings.

I explained that I didn't know what Jesus looked like, so I decided one day to sit down in a rocking chair in front of Pop's framed picture on the wall. Pop is my husband of 53 years. And I did a sketch of him, and shocked myself because it looked familiar to him. So I told her I thought, since I don't know what Jesus looked like, I would use a sketch of the man in my house in a painting for Jesus. I just added a dark beard, longer darker hair, darker thicker eyebrows. Pop has never had a beard or long hair. And then I clothed Jesus in robe type clothing. And to this day if I bring a painting of anything into the class, this lady turns her head so she don't look at anything I paint.

I did a painting of a deer in a landscape watercolor painting for Psalm 42. As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. verse 1. About a year or so later, we were studying the passage, so I decided to take the painting to our Sunday School class, and this same lady turned her head and wouldn't look at my painting. Nothing was said between us this time about my painting.

This lady says she is a artist, and was asked to paint Jesus for a painting on the wall of a church she used to go to. And she went off on the man, the same way she did me. I have never seen her art.

So I question is it o.k. to paint Jesus? But yet deep down, I feel this I want to paint Jesus. So much of Jesus in the Old Testament people don't see or understand, and then in the New Testament there is fulfillment of what the Old Testament speaks of Him. And this is what I want to bring out in my paintings.

And another thing it is not easy to paint Jesus. And it takes longer to do those type of paintings. But I feel if I stay with it, I will improve in the skills of painting Him. And I question is this a call upon my life, or is it not? Or should I look for inspiration from Scripture, and just paint things from His creation? These are questions that stay in my mind. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Meant to Be!
by: Wanda

Dear Sara,

Thank you so much for the encouragement to press on and not give up. I have realized that, yes, my unique creativity was meant to be! As you have said the most important thing is to be close to Jesus.

So if I am walking close to Him and I am a creative person gifted by Him,then the natural out flow of that relationship is going to be my unique works of art or creativity.

Maybe I was concentrating too much on pleasing a juror or contest theme or looking for admiration or just afraid of making bad art. All of these could be ploys of the enemy of Christ to destroy my offerings to Jesus.

When a child creates something proudly, with gladness, out of the fullness of their heart and offers it to their parent no one would dare say this is immature or bad art or wrong.

I treasure every scrap of art my children have made over the years, especially those made as gifts for me. When my 15 year old daughter was about 3, she was constantly making something for us that she called "krinkles." They were tiny scraps of paper with a few marks she had made on them and folded with her precious chubby hands. "Wait,I have to make you a krinkle," she would say as one of us was about to walk out the door. One time, a visitor left before my daughter could give her the krinkle and as she watched the person drive away tears came because she didn't get to give them her gift, a piece of herself.

If Jesus loves us then he loves our gifts to Him! I think too he knows it brings us fulfillment to give our unique gifts to Him.

Iron sharpening iron!
by: Sara

Dear Nicole and Linda,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It thrills me to know that you are soldiering on.

I know that encouragement from other brothers and sisters in the Lord is powerful and what we were created for.

Too often we quit too quickly in discouragement feeling like we are in a lonely pursuit.

It is my hope that knowing that we are all together in this journey with the Lord, sharing our mutual passion for art and our love for Him, will keep you working with all your heart.

Remember our labor in the Lord is never in vain:)
Sara

Not uncommon pangs
by: Linda Swanekamp

The temptation to compare and dismiss my work is always in front of my face. I have decided to paint on- not even thinking of putting my work in a frame. I usually don't like what I have done immediately, but after a day, I see it more realistically. Maybe my body of work will get frames and be able to be displayed, but if not, I still have to paint. My paintings look at what God has created and respond to Him in the level of skill and workmanship I currently am able.

thank you!
by: nicole

Dear Sara,

Thank you so much for your response to Wanda, it really helps me too! I'd struggled with the same issues and let everything else get in the way, but I realize now that I'll never be happy until I pursue what God has designed me for.

So I'm going to do it, in His Power and under His inspiration, and I'll see what happens.

Thank you again and may God bless you!

Nicole

Rest assured, you are not kidding yourself!
by: Sara

Dear Wanda,
If I told you that what you've written is not uncommon, would you believe me? Feeling pangs of inadequacy when looking at the works of other artists is achingly familiar. You are not alone. I know exactly what you mean.

Instead of offering a shoulder to cry on, I want to encourage you to pick yourself up and press on. There is no time, nor reason, for tears. With the Holy Spirit as your guide the adventure awaits and it's a good one!


"For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable." Rom 11:29

With each passing day, I grow more sure of this— we each have important roles to play as artists. No one else can accomplish what God has ordained for you. Your love for art is not an accident.

There are no prerequisites for serving Jesus other than a willingness to obey Him. He will empower you and give you the skills you so eagerly yearn for.

Give Him time and stay the course.

May the work of other artists inspire, not intimidate, you. With their consummate skill they cannot do what you are specifically called to do, only you can!

I pray that you will continue dreaming, creating and engaging in the arts in faith and by faith. Don't ever question your belonging - you do! You are His precious child for whom He has specific and wonderful plans!


Your artistic future may seem mysterious and out of reach at the moment, but His plans and purposes will become clearer as you step out in faith.

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