"Make Known In The Morning," a 16 x 40" commissioned work, now has pride of place in the client's master bath. You know your art is beloved when it's not just for showing off, it's for bringing joy to everyday moments. Art where you brush your teeth? Nothing finer.
The brief was to create a piece this size favoring a warm autumn palette and the theme of spiritual strength that comes from trusting God. I started with cool undertones, building layer upon layer of texture with brushes, stamping, hand prints, and pieces of "palette trash." Brilliant gold Fall foliage was a guiding image, as was hands-the-air-shout-for-joy movement. Gold foil, but of course.
Working on a piece for a specific person gives you time to think about them, pray for them, imagine how the piece will bring pleasure. This wonderful client loves God, makes him the center of life, and trusts God boldly in any circumstance. The title is drawn from Psalm 143 which includes beautiful language about trusting God in the worst of times.
King David wrote Psalm 143 when on the run for his life. He was hiding, waiting, frustrated. He expresses his discouragement in verse 4, "my spirit faints within me". There are times when our spirits faint even without armed soldiers stalking us. We can be crushed by broken relationships, life struggles, diagnoses, dreams that seem like they will never be realized. David doesn't wallow; he turns to the Lord. "I meditate on all you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like parched land" (v 5, 6). Focusing on God instead of the problem changes everything. David knows God is more than able to rescue him because of what God has already done-- creating the universe, freeing the slaves from Egypt, blessing himself in the defeat of Goliath-- to name a few.
The part of this Psalm that makes my heart sing is how David expresses his trust in verse 8: "Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul." The title "Make Known In The Morning" refers to God making known his unfailing love to us, making known his direction for our lives, and that when we lift up our souls to him we are making known our trust and praise. All this I pray for the client.
Thanks to the happy kittens at Kapwing, a buncha humble photos are now a montage. Watch my basic process on a 6 x 6" mosaic.
Working non-objectively is freeing-- subject to no, er, subject. Like the abstract expressionists of the last century (Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell), my decisions flow organically and the outcome is more a record of the action than a fulfillment of a plan. I am influenced and inspired by what I observe visually and conceptually but it rarely show it it more tangibly than a juxtaposition of colors or a suggestion of a form. When I do work to a plan it is enjoyable and stretches me. The painting below, "Coloratura," reflects something in between planned and unplanned, non-objective and representational.
After a few months of building up this 3 x 3 ft mosaic, there was a period when it became a bit of a chore. It swallowed up endless strips of paint with little impact. But then a poem I wrote for my mother gave me a new perspective on it, and a clear point of view for finishing it.
He paces on the porch
cocking his head left and right,
straining to see her through the window.
In a flash of feathered finery
he retreats to the crepe myrtle,
more brilliant than the blossoms to come.
She takes up her perch
scanning porch and garden,
searching for him through the window.
In a streak of red flirtation
he gives her his famous fly by,
more blessing for the day to come.
True story! Cardinals have a thing for my mother. I don't believe cardinals are passed loved ones; heaven wouldn't be heaven if we looked back. Angels? Nah. In the Bible they appear as seeeriously buff men. But the point is, after observing the phenomenon for years, I think cardinals have a thing for my mother. Keeping pace with her on walks, fly bys galore, and, on one lovely day in June, looking for her through the window by her favorite chair. When I see a cardinal my heart leaps and I think of my beautiful mother. The day after the cardinal paced in front of the window and gave her the fly by, I wrote the poem above in minutes. Then Mom and I talked once more of cardinals and angels and blessings. Within a couple days I hit the studio to bring this mosaic to the birds. A tiny cardinal is tucked in safe, hints of birds filling the skies as they have since Creation, their morning chorale coming from all directions. Singers seen and unseen, full of color and decorating the air with extravagant music. Coloratura.
The goal to create 50 works in 50 days accomplished more than expected. First of all, it was a blast. Going for quantity freed me from being too precious about working, freed me to experiment. Since my mosaic technique with "palette trash" and glue is pretty clean, I worked even when traveling. Art was produced in four states, two airbnbs, my best friend's kitchen, and almost every room of my home. Thanks to an online writing group during the month of May, I also wrote a great deal in the same spirit of simply producing.
There were days I made multiple works in rapid succession, days I rested, and days I approached every endeavor as a work of art. The compound effect was in full display: creative initiative overflowed. My basement received a complete makeover, including a fairy bed in time for a visit from Mom. I took on an enormous landscaping project I've been dreading. I might be more proud of that project, conquering bamboo, than any other. I even cooked more than I have in years. My other goals- prayer, Scripture study, and long walks provided additional focus and creative impeti. The fifth goal of 50 blog posts...not so much. But if something had to give, that was the one.
The total acts pf creation -- works of visual art, writing, plus furniture/home/landscaping makeovers -- completed between April 21 and June 9 is a whopping 78. Here are my favorites.
Above: This 12 x 12" mosaic may be my all time favorite of the bunch. "Spring Wind" is delightfully cool, stirring tender new branches and scattering blossoms. It demonstrates how my style developed during the intense production period, allowing more of the painted under layers to show and the addition of open, organic shapes. Below: A slideshow of additional favs not yet posted including poems.
These mini mosaics (# 21 and 22 in the press for 50 works by June 9) and several others are officially for sale online.
Yup. On their way. I finally finished the one inspired by Grandpa's love of yellow. And of course I had to make a little something in red for you, Kay. Enjoy. Top: "Red + Flowers + A Little Bit of Every Color," 4 inches square. Bottom: "Sunshine Over Riverbed," 14 inches square.
For anyone counting, these were #23 and #24.
#16 through 19 above are 4 inches square. #20, below, is a whopping 6 inches square. By next Friday, they will be for sale online. Deets on the way.
"Mulder, are you producing?" I hear this question in my mind frequently, posed by art professor William Wolfram every time I saw him after college. Great work doesn't happen in isolation; it flows or emerges from working consistently. I hear "Wolf's" question today as I confess, um, take stock of progress on the whole "Converging on Fifty" pledge I made about 20 days ago.
Five commitments for 50 days was admittedly ambitious. #1: Study appearances of Jesus post-resurrection plus study the book of Acts >>setting aside time is a challenge. Not sure if/how thinking on the texts will show up in artistic expression but Pentecost will be all the more meaningful. #2: Pray for 5 additional people daily >> acing that one. #3 Complete 50 works of art >> Producing! 15 works in 20 days. #4: walk 5 miles 5x a week >> uh...counting steps I've topped out at 4.5 miles a few times a week. And finally, #5: Post 50x on this blog>> as my nephew is fond of saying...not even close. I can decide that it"s okay to fall short or publish a flurry of posts to catch up. Apologies in advance to subscribers if I do the latter. Okay, sorry, Mom.
Art works #6 - 11, minis all.
Art works #12, "Be glad and Rejoice" and #13 "The Joy of the Lord is My Strength". #12 is the biggest mosaic with "palette trash" to date.
And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, works #14 and #15. They are the direct result of faithful producing. Breakthroughs emerge from consistent work. These two represent a big jump from working not just for the pleasure of creating but to the power of expressing other aspects of my life. Deets on Gallery page.
Completed Tuesday evening at the delightful Airbnb Content. On the left, "Pass Through" from Isaiah 43:2. "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." And on the right, "Stronghold" from Psalm 18:2. "The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, / my God, my rock, / in whom I take refuge, / my shield, and the horn of my salvation, / my stronghold."
Both were gifted along with #3, Well-watered," to Mary's Place by the Sea, a retreat house for women during/post cancer treatment. I spent Wednesday at the retreat house recharging with prayer, massage, expressive writing, gourmet vegan fare, and most importantly...the company of amazing women.