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Tag Archives | art

Lay down your burdens…It’s a Good Friday.

Lay Down Your Burdens © Jen Norton

“Lay Down Your Burdens,” Polymer Clay and Acrylic on Plywood. $250

 

Do you ever hold on to fears, hurts and pains like they’re precious jewels? Catch yourself telling your troubles to friends who’ve heard it all before? Or think you’re not worthy of something better? Do you carry your worries around day after day, piling them up like a monumental wall to hide behind? Have you forgotten what it’s like to live without all that weight?

Aren’t those stones getting awfully heavy?

Don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s part of the human condition, an addiction that first took hold probably in your early teens, just as your ego was developing. But God came in human form to make sure we knew that wasn’t the end of the story. We are more than those stones. There was a time before we picked them up. With a little bravery, we can put them down and be free again.

It’s good to stand among those dark, cold stones and acknowledge their presence. But maybe we can begin to see that the there are cracks and spaces and imperfections between them. And maybe if we view those cracks from just the right spot, we’ll witness a new perspective. Maybe we’ll see the light of early dawn streaming through the cracks.

Set down your stones on the dark, wet grass and trust that they will stay put. For now, just enjoy the light. Soak it in, let it disperse through you, let all the colors of the rainbow scatter forth from your soul and see what grows where there once was only darkness.

Today is Good Friday, the day the flesh was broken and the stones were piled high. But in a few days, everything will change and the Light will come.

Happy Easter.

Contact me to purchase this original artwork.

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If I weren’t an introvert, I might not be a painter.

Yesterday I went to my daughter’s school to help with a teacher appreciation lunch. It’s the end of the year, and all the kids were gathered in the central lawn with a photographer to take the official group picture. It’s a pretty large school, so that’s about 700-800 kids. My daughter is quite popular and lots of her friends stop in at our home after school, so they know me too. So as I’m walking by this enormous group of teens I hear “Jen!”, “Hey Jen” over and over. I just started waving like a celebrity…but inside I’m thinking, “Boy, what a difference 30 years can make to your middle school fame!” I was such a painfully shy child at that age. To make things worse, we moved to a different state between my 7th and 8th grade years and I remember well-meaning friends telling me that this was my chance to “reinvent myself” at a new place. I think someone even gave me a book! Oh, if only I could pass on the wisdom of age to the children I know now and tell them they will find their way. They don’t need to change. It will all be OK. I do tell them, but you know how we humans are. We’ve got to live it for ourselves before we believe.

I spent years trying to overcome my shyness, but even in my most talkative moments, someone will invariably come up to me and tell me how quiet I am. More than once someone (who later became a friend) told me their first impression of me was of someone who was aloof or scary. Guess I’ll never be one of those people who cheerfully tell prospective employers they’re “a people person.”. Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace my introversion. Without it, I would not be a painter…a job that requires hours alone in my own mind pondering life, connecting to God applying layers upon layers of paint to express myself. I wouldn’t be able to soak in the wisdom of books, listen attentively to a friend in need or find deep joy in pondering patterns in nature. It is who I am, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Are you a fellow introvert? Take comfort…I found this great Ted talk by Susan Cain (Author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking”)

And I do step out of my shell once in a while. If you’re in the San Jose area this weekend, I’ll be exhibiting and selling work at the San Jose Made event in San Pedro Square. Here’s the scoop: www.sanjosemade.com

This Little Lighthouse of Mine

The reference for today’s Advent Art Mediation is John 1: 6-9

Santa Cruz Lighthouse Art © Jen Norton

This Little Lighthouse of Mine

John is introduced as a man sent from God to bear witness to the light that was coming into the world. It is clarified that he is not the actual light, but merely here to testify. If we continue on past verse 9, we see that not all recognize “the Light”, but those that do are empowered to become children of God.

I have to admit, there have been points in my life where I wasn’t so sure about the light thing. Maybe Jesus was just a great social revolutionary. Maybe he’s just one iteration of many times God has become man. Other indigenous cultures have similar mythology, after all. I’m a painter…I work in shades of gray and alternate possibilities. But then I look at stories of men and women that really walked the earth (in recorded time) and historical narratives that tie together. The bible was compiled over a long period of time by a variety of people. It would be awfully hard to tie up all those loose ends and fulfill hundreds of prophesies without some form of divine intervention, not to mention stand the test of time under the scrutiny of scholars. And then there was that death and resurrection thing, with eye-witnesses. So I choose to believe.

Stronger proof for me has been in the moments when I’ve actually felt God’s presence. The occasion that comes to mind today happened about 15 years ago. We were trying to have children and coming to the realization that it wasn’t going to happen with out the miracles of modern science. I was really down and really worried.

One day, after work, I was “called” to go stand along West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, near the Lighthouse that houses the surfing museum. Called is a weird thing to try to describe (or believe) in an internet blog post. I can only say that I had this intense desire to drive 1/2 hour in the opposite direction from my house, over a mountain, to go stand on the cliff of the sea for no known reason. This wasn’t the first time I’d experienced this phenomenon, so I didn’t question. I just went. I stood by the ocean in the wind with my eyes closed. After a moment, all human sounds around me left and all I heard was the wind in my ears. In the wind, I heard a voice that instantly told me exactly what needed to happen and to not be afraid. It wasn’t an audible voice…it was more like the words were placed inside me.

You may be thinking I’m a bit crazy. That’s OK…I’m an artist, so your crazy might just be my normal. I only know that the feeling I left with that day carried me through the years it took to get my beautiful daughter, born on Christmas Eve. Near the lighthouse, I caught a glimmer of light to come.

This tiny Lighthouse art is available here.

The Heart of a Servant

“Preparation” by Jen Norton

“Preparation”, Acrylic on Canvas, 24 x 24"

I’ve been busy putting together my Open Studio show for this weekend, which is much like putting together a big banquet. Each piece must find it’s spot, hung in agreement with the work next to it. Loose artwork must be framed or varnished, dressed up and ready for the party. I want patrons to feel they’ve arrived someplace special and we’re happy they’re here! With the theme of table-setting in mind, I thought I’d share my painting “Preparation” with you today. This piece is all about doing everyday, mundane tasks with a spirit of service. It’s about the unseen workers who put their heart and soul into their work so others can experience something new and wonderful. It doesn’t matter if it’s a concert, a product launch, a benefit event or a simple dinner for your family. To make something out of nothing, someone had to put in time and effort to make it happen. And if they did it with love, they just might create something bigger and better than anyone expected. In my perfect world, we would all strive to approach life from the point of view of a servant.

 

Brown Bread for a Green Day

Irish Brown Bread Painting by Jen Norton

Arán Donn (Brown Bread), 30 x 30, Acrylic on canvas

 

We were treated to some warm, delicious home-baked Irish Brown Bread upon returning from a long, drizzly day of sight-seeing while visiting our good friends in Ireland a while ago. Topped with cream cheese and smoked salmon, or just plain butter, it’s quite a treat. I had to paint the recipe of “Arán Donn”, complete with locally-grown apples and the magpies you often see along the road. There’s an old superstition about the meanings behind the number of magpies you see together. Two is for Joy! Beannachtaí na féile Pádraig…Or, if you’re not up to speed on your Irish, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Want to try it for yourself…here’s the recipe:

6 oz / 175g  whole wheatl flour
2 oz / 50g plain white flour
2 oz / 50g   steel cut oatmeal
1 oz / 25g   wheatgerm
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg
10 fl oz / 275ml buttermilk

mix dry stuff in big bowl
whisk egg in the buttermilk
mix dry and wet stuff
put into buttered bread tin
make a deep cross on top and prick the four corners to let the fairies out! (very important, I hear)

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375F for 50-60mins

Let me know what you think!

PS: You can purchase prints of this piece here. Contact me directly to inquire about the original.