Friday, March 27, 2009

"My Times Are In Your Hand"

Most of the time, I make art because I have something on my mind, or in my spirit (both really), and I have to express it. The things that are the deepest tend to percolate for a long time, and then bubble up at the appropriate moment. This artwork expresses a combination of celebration and grief. The topic: life in the womb and the loss of that life.

As images go, this is a simple composite with easy symbolism, at least to me. The child's silhouette is the key to interpreting this image. (It's my oldest grandson~ who is now 5~ when he was first toddling around, looking out at the rain through the door in the den). I probably had more emotion as I created this artwork than I have had with many others put together. Perhaps this comes through, but it's impossible for me to discern, as I will always feel the feelings when I look at it from now on.

It usually happens (when I make art) that I'm feeling first, then groping to express artistically what I feel. The thinking is intuitive as I gravitate to photos I've taken or licensed that I keep archived for just such an "emergency". As I made this, the Scripture verse I quoted in the title above ran through my mind. I was struggling to find comfort for a loss~ someone else's loss of a baby by miscarriage~ that seemed to trigger something in me I couldn't explain. Grief welled up in me and threatened to bring on depression if I didn't deal with it. Art's good therapy, especially if we let the Spirit of God be involved, which of course I do.

I'm not going to go into a big discussion of what's on my mind, as this is an art blog, meant for interpretation (although I do get teachy and preachy here, I just can't help myself sometimes). But I am sure I will pursue the topic more in depth on "Fireberries" when I have time. For now, just let me say that my understanding of the preciousness of life has deepened over my lifetime, and it is a compelling force behind my artwork.

No matter what people think in this day and age, every life that is conceived in the womb is created by God. He breathes life into that tiny embryo, and it is a living person with a spirit. No child, born or unborn, goes unnoticed by Him or is unknown to Him. Whether they are miscarried or aborted they go to be with Him. I learned this when I miscarried my first pregnancy so many years ago. I will tell that story sometime when I blog all this out.

I actually titled this piece "Revelation #16" and included it in my series (as I felt it had universal revelation in it and worked visually with the rest). The background is an outer space image from the Hubble telescope, and this particular photo is of the Crab Nebula. Its appearance was perfect for my artwork with the glowing, womblike section that holds the child. I love working with these public domain space images (I've been invited to submit some of my artworks using their Hubble images for one of their official websites, I just haven't gotten up the nerve to go for it-- fear of rejection you know).

When I look at the small version of this artwork, I see angels circling the womb. The "angels" are actually dogwood blossoms, which of course you can see when you look up close. But I like the feeling of the womb being protected here, and I believe this is God's heart and action: to protect the life that is carried within.

Although death has not yet been "laid at Jesus feet", I believe it has been defeated by Him via the cross and resurrection. It is one of my great burdens that we begin to get a hold of this revelation. The dogwood traditionally represents the cross and passion of Christ. I think it is fitting here, for He "tasted death for every one". "He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," so He also knows how to comfort us in our losses and grieving. He always gives us hope and courage to help us keep on living life with joy and thankfulness.

In this artwork, the womb is portrayed as a vehicle, a "space ship", for the journey of growth and development that takes place for 9 months. It's spiritual counterpart is the concept of "the hand of God", which never lets go of this infant no matter what happens. The new life (each an eternal spiritual being), here, is being escorted to the heavenly realm: if the fetus is born a baby in the world, then God's hand is ever-present to guide him into the heavenly realm, by the Spirit, as the child grows naturally.

There's a white heart of light/love around the baby, which is God's heart of love, always present no matter what the circumstance. I like how the patterns made by the nebula and the flowering branches created an umbilical cord. Natural life is drawn from God through the birth-mother, and spiritual life is drawn from God through the spiritual mother, the Church (Body of Christ). As you can see, there is a deeper, more spiritual meaning to this artwork. We are to nurture all lives that are given into our care, for they all belong to God and derive life from Him.

Textures were overlaid in this artwork, one of rain through a curtained window during a violent tropical storm, signifying grief and a "veil" of oppression that keeps us from seeing the purposes of God when things look dark. Laid over that is another texture: a peaceful beach scene with gentle waves at sunrise, after a storm. This signifies the natural birth by water, and the spiritual birth represented by baptism. Life overcomes death, and light overcomes darkness. Underneath all of this is a texture made from a photo of light shining through a chalcedony stone, which is blue like the sky. To me this says the light of the third heaven breaks through the second and first heavens with the Truth of God, colouring everything we see, whether we know it or not.

I hope you've gained some insight and inspiration from this artwork and from my explanation. Thanks for reading! Be blessed.

Psalm 31:15 (whole Psalm recommended)
Psalm 22: 9-11
Hosea 13:14
Romans 8:38-39
Hebrews 2:9
Isaiah 53: 3-4; 61:2
II Corinthians 1: 3-4

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Gift

As I mentioned on my Flickr stream when I originally posted this piece on New Year's 2008, "this was my first artwork of the year". Actually, it was the last one of 2007, and is signed such. Here we are, making headway into 2009 and I'm just getting onto blogging this! I have so many pieces to write about! I chose this one today, just because. . . I suppose it is an "artist's statement" in itself, a kind of visual creed. So I will try to interpret it into English the best I can.

There is so much in this piece, and in many of the others, that I sometimes feel daunted with the task of describing their meanings. It always seems to turn into a major Bible study. I just have to deal with laziness and a need for good time management. In 2008, I posted a blog on 360 that describes some of why I write about my artwork. It's titled "A Clear Trumpet" (here's the link):

Sometimes I forget that it's out of obedience to the Lord that I do it, not because I think someone will read or like what I write. So again I am reminded by the Spirit to be diligent.

This composite was created mainly for my husband, who likes it very much (maybe because it includes photos I took of and him and me). It graced his laptop for a long while, until I made him one for his birthday, which he liked even better! So, I guess at first glance, love and romance would be the main theme.

If you've read anything else in this blog, you've discovered that the husband-wife relationship, as well as the preparation of the Bride of Christ, is a major theme in my artwork. With this theme, one could see a story of a lover who has given his Beloved a gift of beautiful jewelry. Perhaps it is a bridal gift, as it is pure and white (the photo is of a necklace I made myself of natural rock crystal and pearls, along with Swarovski crystals. Since then, I have learned to clean any crystal obsessively before photographing-- haha!!). The roses also remind me of a floral bouquet a bride might carry.

Sgs 4:9
You have ravished my heart, My sister, [my] spouse; You have ravished my heart With one [look] of your eyes, With one link of your necklace.

To me, the main subject of this artwork is creativity. So much was going on in my spirit while I was making this! I was meditating on the image of God in us as humans. God put His stamp or signature in us as His creations. We are made "in His likeness and in His image". The ability to create is part of that image. It is "the gift" to which the title refers.

Gen 1:27
So God created man in His [own] image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Gen 1:26
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

One of God's first commands to His creation was to "be fruitful and multiply." The grapes in the picture are partly a reference to this. It can also remind us of the "fruits of the Spirit". . .love, joy, peace, etc.

Gen 1:22
And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth."

As natural beings, we take this first to mean "procreate". We so take for granted our ability to conceive and bear children, in our "image and likeness, after our own kind"!

Gen 5:3
And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.

It is such a privilege and awesome responsibility that we have been given. What terrible things the fallen human race has done to trample, desecrate and pervert the image of God that is to reflect and glorify God! I'm sure that was one of satan's primary designs in seducing mankind. Perhaps he was jealous of our ability to engage in sex and reproduce! Perhaps he was jealous of our special relationship to God.

Conceiving, birthing and raising offspring is a mark of our true godlikeness. In fallen humanity, it has brought about much heartache, but God's plan of redemption makes a way to turn the damage of generations around for His purposes and good pleasure. Indeed, raising children with His help is a wonderful experience, and continues to be as the young ones grow into adulthood and themselves bring new people into the world.

It takes a more ridiculous kind of faith than I could ever have to believe everything came about by some random act of the universe!!! I'm in awe of a God who has so much life in Himself that He could breathe it into a creation and have it continue and expand, as does the universe itself (the background contains a space image from the Hubble).

Another theme in the artwork is Eden: the fallen and the redeemed. I have already made reference to Adam and Eve in the creation and commissioning of mankind. There is a waterfall in the picture that is a special place my husband and I like to go. It calls to mind the four rivers in the garden of Eden, that represent living water:

Gen 2:10
Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads.

Jhn 7:38
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."

The overall image gives us a picture of an idyllic sort of place that optimizes love, contentment and intimacy. A "secret garden" is another of my favourite themes, reminding me of passages in the Psalms and Song of Songs. The word "Eden" comes from a primitive root meaning "take pleasure in, delight in, to luxuriate, be soft and pliable."

Psa 37:4
Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

The tree in the picture poses a question: which tree is it? Is it the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, or is it the Tree of Life? To me this tree says we have a choice, to choose God's way, or to reject what is God's for what might seem "good" yet comes from the other tree. A good reference for this understanding is Rick Joyner's book "There Were Two Trees in the Garden." Part of the message of this artwork is "choose life":

Deu 30:19
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;

The choice to conceive, carry and give birth to life is ours. Not only are we called to be fruitful in our bodies, but also in our minds and hearts. This brings us to a deeper illumination of what this work is about: the function of the God-given ability to conceive things in our imagination and to bring them to life. I think the imagination is a function of the mind and spirit working together: this is our heart. Real creativity-- whether artistic or musical or scientific or whatever-- flows out of our heart.

Psa 45:1
To the Chief Musician. Set to "The Lilies." A Contemplation of the sons of Korah. A Song of Love. My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue [is] the pen of a ready writer.

Pro 18:21
Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

I don't have a clear revelation on how this coincides with the revelation about "speaking with other tongues" and getting interpretation. I do know the Scriptures are clear about the power of the spoken word. I truly do not know how much life is in a piece of art, or how much life can be in an artwork, or in instrumental music, or a mathematical formula, for instance.

I think there is more life in my artwork now than there used to be. I think there is death in some artworks, don't you? Could it be like seeds, that when planted, might have truth in it that could grow when given life in the heart? I don't know yet. You can seek the Lord along with me for revelation on that. I do know we are in training to have the power to create with our words. We are people made in God's image, and our destiny is to be creative like our Father. What will we create in eternity? I don't know. I look forward to finding out.

So far, I have used the images of winged horses, unicorns and fairies to depict the realm of the imagination. Children need to be trained to develop their imaginations, not have them fed full of stuff of doubtful value while blocking their ability to imagine for themselves. Creative play and a peaceful environment are essential for healthy development, and that need continues throughout life. At the heart of all creativity should be a strong foundation of truth. Without an anchor of truth, light, life and love (all attributes of God), our imaginations become darkened and we bring forth destructive things.

1Pe 1:13
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest [your] hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

The "loins of your mind" is the procreation power of our imagination. The more revelation of Christ we have and the more we are free from lies, the more powerful our imagination is, and the more life we can bring forth. This type of conception and birth belongs to men as well as women, for it is spiritual:

Jer 30:4
Now these [are] the words that the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah.
Jer 30:5
"For thus says the LORD: 'We have heard a voice of trembling, Of fear, and not of peace.
Jer 30:6
Ask now, and see, Whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man [with] his hands on his loins Like a woman in labor, And all faces turned pale?
Jer 30:7
Alas! For that day [is] great, So that none [is] like it; And it [is] the time of Jacob's trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.
Jer 30:8
'For it shall come to pass in that day,' Says the LORD of hosts, '[That] I will break his yoke from your neck, And will burst your bonds; Foreigners shall no more enslave them.

The presence of the lion in my artwork is representative of Jesus, the Lion of Judah (Judah means "praise"). He seems to have a serious and authoritative look in this picture. It's almost like there's a spotlight on Him, and I believe the word He is about to speak is in the music lyrics that are in the artwork, taken from Handel's Messiah (they are from Scripture):

Mat 11:29
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Christ came that we might be set free from slavery to sin, and to deliver us from captivity to the world, the flesh and the devil. As long as we are in bondage to other "gods", we are not free to be the creators we are meant to be, and our works will not produce His life. Being yoked to Him is the greatest freedom we can know. He then begins to train us to be containers of His glory, and to bring forth works worthy of the King.

P.S. In regards to the Bride, I have said before that I don't believe we are married yet, we are betrothed. I had big questions for the Lord about how we could conceive anything, considering the marriage has yet to be "consummated". He then reminded me of the Virgin birth: how she received the Word of God and gave birth to the Son of Man, who was also the Son of God. This pertains to His Church, His Body, His Bride. A mystery perhaps, but something He will give us more understanding on if we seek Him for it.