I remember the first time I achieved a “likeness” in a portrait. I don’t remember how old I was. I don’t remember who it was. I don’t remember if it was a drawing or a painting. I don’t remember if it was in a class or on my own. I don’t remember any of the details, but I do remember how it felt! I remember becoming so engrossed that time stood still. I remember feeling connected to something “else”, something bigger. Art had always held a kind of peace for me, but this was more intense. At the time I didn’t understand that I was experiencing the Holy Spirit entering with me into the act of creating. All I knew was that this was a way to connect to something deep within me and that it was a unique experience for me.
And I wanted more!
One Sunday many (over 30) years ago, our church commissioned a stained glass window that depicted the creation story. When it was finished and installed the pastor preached a sermon on creation. I sat in the pew as he began to read Genesis one. All I heard that whole sermon was, “in the beginning, God created”. As I gazed at the stained glass something clicked for me. God was a creator and I was a creator. In that moment I understood what I was feeling when I created. I understood that we are made in His image and as such, we are creative! And that I shared that with Him! That was a pivotal moment for me and my art.
Fast forward to today. The thrill of creating a portrait is still there. I love to do portraits from life because the life that you are trying to capture is right in front of you. I feel in communion with God and it feels like holy ground to enter into creating an Imago Dei, or the image of God. An image is a reflection or a mirror. Each time I enter into the process of a portrait, from life or a photo, I am aware that each of us is a walking miracle! I see the stardust that we are all made of. I am reminded of the endless variations of the human form that come together in each individual. I notice the natural gestures that only that one person possesses and I try to capture the essence that is unique to that person. And I marvel in wonder at the Creator and lover of our souls.
This is a sketch I meant to paint from a photo on the sketchy app. I never did get to the painting part. I have lots and lots of unfinished works like this one in various stages of completion. One thing the artist always asks themselves is “is this work finished”. Some of the works of art I like best by other artists are sketches and unfinished works. Sketches help the artist search for what is true about the subject and clarify how they want to give that a voice. I think sketches and unfinished work have a purity that the finished work often doesn’t. I find beauty in the simplicity of the artists concept and the struggle to tell the story. I think this sketch has qualities that give it a voice and make it as finished as it needs to be for me, its creator. I love the lines and I think it stands on its own. I wonder if that’s how God see’s us too? And that’s another subject for another time!
Copyright ©2021 Art and Soul Ministries, All Rights Reserved