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Tag Archives | spiritual art

Along the road less traveled, with a compass.

JN802_Serve, Love, Create

“Serve, Love, Create”

It’s been my experience that most people who aren’t artists look at what we creative types do and think we know something they don’t. There’s an assumption that if something is made into tangible form, it must be true. The artist must have some kind of inside knowledge, luck or talent only bestowed on the select few. A good friend referred to it as the “red cape syndrome”. If someone is wearing a red cape, she must have a superpower!

I’ll let you in on a secret: I do own a red cape. I don’t have a superpower.

The mysterious talent we painters are born with isn’t for painting. It’s for seeing. Observation comes naturally. The painting part I’ve had to learn. And no matter how good my painting skills might be, you wouldn’t care if you didn’t relate to my subject matter. And the only reason you relate to my content is because I am putting in public form what I am learning, struggling with, or otherwise thinking about…which happens to be the same thing you are also currently fascinated with. That’s really what makes an artist. It’s not the big gallery show or the licensing deal (although we like those things too!). It’s the willingness to be transparent and public about our own lives. It’s the need to step out of hiding and share the journey with others in a concrete, public way. It is the courage to begin something knowing we will learn how to do it as we go along. Art is communication at a very soulful level.

So where am I going in 2012? My roadmap allows for surprises and twists. To become what God has in store for me, I have to be open to evolution. But I don’t wander aimlessly. I do bring a compass. Here’s my True North:

• I create work that expresses my faith, honors family and promotes the ideal of peace as a position of strength.

• My art is currency for empowering the lives of women and families, including my own.

• My art tells my story, so that you can tell yours, so we both know we are not alone.

How will this all manifest itself? I’m not entirely sure. Some parts of my dream have concrete actions; some are still in vision stage (always the easier part for me). I may be a creator, but I’m not THE Creator. Guess I’ll have to look back on 2012 and reflect on how far I’ve traveled.

I’ve been playing around with textures and layers on gessoed board! You can purchase this artwork here.

Peace be with You!

Today’s Advent Art Meditation is from Isaiah 2:1-5. (Scroll down to “Friday”.) This is my last post for the Advent 2011 theme, and I have truly enjoyed the journey with those of you who found me here!

JN801 Gift of Peace © Jen Norton

“Gift of Peace”

For my final Advent painting, I am sending you the Gift of Peace! I know it may seem trite. Every beauty pageant contestant wishes for it and it’s so common a sentiment, we make jokes like “Pray for Whirled Peas” out of it. But wouldn’t it be great if we could really have it? No more worrying about crazy people stealing our children, tyrants running our lives, or murderers and thieves profiled on the news. These verses illustrate what Isaiah saw for Jerusalem once they returned to the Lord and away from their wicked ways. God is in charge, with everyone in agreement about it. Nations look to Jerusalem for wisdom, people stop fighting and start working together, never training for war again. All this is still promised to those who walk in the light of the Lord.

The cynical side of me knows it might be a pipe dream. None of us can fully control the world and mandate peace. But we can bring God into our own hearts and our own homes. Way back on my first Advent post of Nov 28, 2011, I mentioned that the most important social structure in God’s eyes is family. The holidays can bring out both the best and the worst in us, especially where family is concerned. I pray that you can find Patience to gracefully endure any hardships, Wisdom to know when someone needs you and when to step back, Forgiveness for any misunderstandings, and practice unconditional Love like God showed to us on Christmas. We can build world peace from the bottom up. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, oh Israel!

And if it’s just not in you this year, serve up some “whirled peas” and smile to yourself.

You can purchase this small painting here.

Tree of Leaf-angelization

Today’s Advent Art Meditation is from Matthew 4:14-16. Scroll down to “Thursday”.

JN800_Autumn Walk Among the Leaves © Jen Norton

“Autumn Walk Among the Leaves”

We have a humongous tree in our front yard. It’s the tallest tree on the block, and I don’t mean slightly taller. It’s literally three times higher than any other tree. I use it as a landmark for people to find my house. When I point out my tall tree to someone in the neighborhood, they usually look up and say, “Wow, I didn’t even notice that!” How could they miss it? But then I think most of us live our lives, nose down, on auto-pilot, thinking about whatever it is we need to think about that day. We forget to look up and notice the foliage.

God knows we’re busy, so in the proper season, he relinquishes the leaves down into our world. My tree drops thousands upon thousands of leaves each fall, and not just on our yard. With the help of the wind it shares them with ALL the neighbors. I’m pretty sure my tree keeps several gardeners employed throughout the winter months. Some immediately clean the leaves away. Some might get really annoyed and wish I’d cut my tree down. But some may relish the leaves that bring the fall mood and change of season. And the children, especially, will rake them up and then revel in jumping into the middle of the pile.

In today’s verse, Jesus has just returned from his temptation episode in the desert to find his cousin John the Baptist  arrested. He leaves Nazareth and moves to Capernaum, fulfilling one of Isaiah’s prophesies about people from those lands living in darkness now seeing the light. Jesus begins his mission to teach people to reform their lives. He gathers his disciples, growing their budding faith. They will later travel like the leaves in the spirited wind to new lands to share the Word. Some who hear will welcome the new season; some will not.

God’s love is like my tree, grounded, providing life, branching out. We are like the leaves. We begin as buds and grow to big green leaves. As the green of youth leaves us, we take on our full colors and eventually ride the winds of our talents to help spread the message of love. Within the seasons, God is always creating and we are part of it, whether we are aware of it or not. I hope as you celebrate Christmas this weekend, wherever the wind blows you, you will be like the children reveling in the “leaves” of your friend and family tree and the mystery of the season. It’s your time to notice.

You can purchase this little illustration here.

God’s Beloved Girls

Today’s Advent meditation is on Ephesians 5:6-14. In this reading, Paul is warning the Christians that the moral norms of Ephesian pop culture go against God’s wishes and not to be swayed. They are now awake in the light and need to act accordingly.

JN790 Beloved Girl © Jen Norton

“Beloved Girl”

 

It would be a easy to write something judgmental here, but I prefer to be inspirational. Upon brainstorming this one, my thoughts went to Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”. If you’ve forgotten it from school, it is about a group of prisoners who have been chained their entire lives inside a cave. The only visual they have are the shadows cast by those outside, so they believe that to be reality. The question becomes, if they could emerge and see reality, would they believe it to be real? Would they rather return to what they know? Or would they grow to understand life in the light and pity those still in the cave.

Plato may have lived 400+ years before Christ, but his musings of ancient Greeks are no less relevant today. Even now, we can easily believe what is sold to us without question. One of my big issues is the damage done to girls and women through pop culture messaging. I grew up with (mostly) sisters, female cousins and have a daughter. I have seen first-hand what happens when a girl considers herself “not good enough” and it’s painful. Not only does she harm herself, but she can deny herself real connection to family and friends…the very people who could pull her from darkness.

In today’s art, I’ve shown the form of a woman filled with words. If you read all the words, including those in the dark areas, you get a sense of some of the insidious lies that girls and women face each and every day. We often blindly believe them to be truths, like the shadows on the cave wall. But if you block out the dark words and only read the light ones, you claim your true message from God…you are loved.

This image is available as a matted art print here or as a 2.5 x 3.5″ ACEO trading card in my Etsy shop. Good for pocket reminders for the girls in your life!

Here are a few other resources I like pertaining to girls and women:
Miss Representation
The Girl Effect
Women for Women International
When a Woman Meets Jesus by Dorothy Valcarcel

How can I keep from singing?

Today’s Advent meditation is from John 12: 35-36 (You’ll have to scroll down a bit. The link isn’t quite connected on that site)

Painted Bluebird Cole Porter Quote © Jen Norton

“Be Like the Bluebird” painted quote

In today’s reading Jesus hints to his followers that he will not always walk with them on earth. Dark days are ahead and they must know the light while they have the chance. A man in darkness cannot find it’s way.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to paint for this passage until I sat down last night to watch a DVD interview I did of my grandparents back in 1988. This taped dialogue by my 22-year-old self has been sitting in a box on VHS for years. My mom recently asked me if I still had it, so I had it copied to DVD and just picked it up a few days ago. Last night was the first time I’d watched it in over 20 years. Wow. If you’ve never taken the time to ask your elders about their lives, I suggest you do it! I have footage about life in the early 1900s with only gas lighting, impressions of San Francisco in the 1950s, and my grandmother’s opinion of the change in women’s roles over the years. Mostly I realized how much of the beliefs and philosophies I hold now were shaped by these people. They no longer walk with me, but I have their light to guide me.

My painting today is of bluebirds, with a quote by American composer Cole Porter. My Grandpa Mac’s favorite bird was the bluebird. He would sit on his porch every afternoon and watch them (Grandma wasn’t so big on their screeching, however). He also loved great musicals and especially after he lost his eyesight, you would often find him in his living room listening to recordings of  Broadway numbers. A self-made man, he always believed in me. Of all my family members, his words run through my head most often.

I tried to include a clip from the video here, but alas, I do not have the skills or technology today. For now, please enjoy the quote from Cole Porter. I know my grandfather would.

Be like the bluebird who never is blue,
For he knows from his upbringing what singing can do
– Cole Porter, Be Like the Bluebird, 1934

The original art is available here.

You can also purchase reproductions here or signed greeting cards here.