As I read Alma's beautiful analogy of how faith is like a seed planted in our hearts I was overcome with a desire to express the analogy in paint. It was kind of odd for me to feel this way, because really I'm not a painter. I don't even consider myself a real artist. Sure I do cool stuff, and sure I have painted a few little things, but anyone who knows me knows that when I am feeling expressive or creative I am much more likely to write.
The desire didn't leave me though, and I found myself looking at prices of canvas and nearly fainting. A dear friend of mine gave me some small canvases, and I did another painting on one of them, but I knew I needed something big. I didn't know how I was going to afford it, but I knew I needed to paint this painting.
Then I stopped by my favorite thrift store, where one of my favorite people happens to work, and found a 3 x 4 painting in the rack. It had some kind of raised medium on a section of it, which concerned me, but the rest of it was beautifully flat with only a few flaws. I talked with my friend and we devised a plan to incorporate the raised medium so I could use the canvas.
I brought it home, took it out of its frame, and then began the process of staring at it.
Some of you may not know how much staring at the canvas it is part of painting, but it is. First you stare at it and imagine what you want. Then you stare at it and change your plan. Sometimes you sketch, sometimes you do trial paintings on smaller canvases. But me, I just stared, and googled, and looked through old pictures of the oak trees in my yard in North Carolina. I love my tress in North Carolina, they are so beautiful, so elegant, so patient.
During my staring I decided the existing raised medium just wouldn't capture the texture that I wanted. It would never mimic the way the bark is layered and flakes. Somehow (and I don't even know when or how, but it was probably due to the multiple conversations I had with two other friends about my project) I came up with the idea to use fabric dipped in paint and wood glue to create a raised medium of my own for that section.
On May 13, 2013 I filled a Styrofoam plate with white acrylic paint and set to work painting over the old painting (under much protest from my daughter who somehow LIKED the old painting and thought I was committing a crime!)
For those not familiar with Alma, well you should read that chapter, but I will sum it up for you. It talks about faith. He compares our faith to a seed which we plant in our hearts. We know the seed is good because we can feel it start to grow. It is a beautiful analogy about how we need to give that seed of faith nourishment and sunshine constantly if we want it to grow.
I've seen this happen in my own life. If brings tears of gratitude to my eyes to think of how small my seed was once and how strong my tree is now. I am so thankful for my faith and the miracles in my life.
Now I'm going to talk art, and I don't know much about art so this shouldn't take long. The grown tree is in the background layer, but it is also 3D. This is because the grown tree is the last in the analogy, but the state which the soul is at at right now. The sprouted seed is the top layer of the rings, because that is where it starts, with that sprouting in our hearts. Then later we have a seedling, followed by a sapling, and then a young tree. That brings us to the last layer, which I mentioned first, the layer that is today's reality. The space at the top should bring to the mind how infinite the room for growth. The rings were intentionally made to look like tree cross-sections to remind us that the process goes on year after year. The grown tree to the left is so wide to again symbolize the potential for growth. The paintings of the younger trees are left in silhouette, because they are but the shadows of the past.
So, there's my thousand words (nearly) and now here is the mixed media painting "And Now as I Said Concerning Faith":
And if you have read this far, thank you for letting me tell you about my painting. Now I want to tell you what my painting taught me.
If you have been to my homes of the past you probably noted that I didn't have much of my own art work on display. This is because when I looked at my art, all I would see was the flaws, and they haunted me. I wanted my art to be perfect, because I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to be perfect so that I was beyond reproach, so that no one could ever say I wasn't good enough, so that I would not agree with them deep down in my heart when they said it.
Anyone who looks at this painting will see flaws. There are smears, smudges, and drops of paint flung far and wide as I worked with the wet fabric. Those trained in art probably see more flaws than I do, because honestly I know nothing of balance and composition. I mean, you can only learn just so much in one art class and one stagecraft class in high school.
Yet, when I look at this painting, the flaws don't even bother me, and that is where this painting has opened my eyes. I don't care that they are there, in fact I am glad that they are there and that they don't bother me. THEY DON'T BOTHER ME! They are okay because I'M okay. I am beautiful, strong, lovely, talented and worthy the way that I am! I'm happy with me! I've got so far to go, so much growing to do, but I face that reality happily now. At last I carry with me constantly the knowledge of God's unconditional love for me and that he is proud of me. He's proud of me, I'm proud of me, and you know what? I'm proud to say, I painted this!