These Cards are Marked!
When I was a kid I remember a TV commercial for M&M candies…the scene was an old western saloon, rough and gruff cowboys playing poker, angry eyes peaking over a fanned out hand of smudged playing cards, the holder of the cards voicing accusations that the dealer was not playing a fair game by “marking” the best cards with a smear of chocolate…”These cards are marked!”,… a fellow player chimes in… “They’re a mess!” …and then a brawl threatens to ensue… the dealer claims it couldn’t be he because his candy(the M&M’s) “melted in his mouth not in his hands”-had to be one of the other players that was marking the deck because they were eating an “ordinary” chocolatey treat and now caught red-handed(or brown in this case) cheating! …I love the creativity of that old ad! And the image of those “Messy… marked… cards…”. The memory of that ad makes me chuckle as I realize that I have been making some messes of my own over the past few months. Using expired gift cards(not playing cards) as my painting tools, I’ve dabbed, scraped, dotted, smushed, pulled, pushed, and grazed the surface of art panels with tints, tones and shades of oil pigments to create a collection of work I’ve titled, “Beauty Marks ! ? . An Exhibition of Simplified Form”.
As I worked on these paintings it was apparent that even-though they have “Beauty” in their name, every mark I made was not “a beauty”, in fact, most of them were quite the opposite-a mess! But, by accepting each mark for what is was-beautiful or messy, leaving each to work with the ones beside it or underneath it, I discovered a spontaneous unity in the diversity of the textures. Not only were the completed images more interesting, but the painting process was so much more freeing and exhilarating! The marks became the beauty in the painting-verb & noun!
The act of painting is a worshipful experience for me and the process reminds me that God is the Ultimate Artist. All of His “marks” (His creations) are beautiful because He creates only good (1 Timothy 4:4; 3 John 1:11) even when all we see is a mess. What this world claims as beautiful is not necessarily in agreement to what He considers to be so. He created you and me (Psalm 139:13-16) and from our beginning “marked” us as wonderfully made. And just like the “Beauty Marks” in these paintings, when we accept ourselves and others as He created us-beautiful messes—and live to glorify Him-we get a glimpse of the beauty of His Kingdom here and now in this messy world.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:13-16
Beauty Marks! ? . An Exhibition of Simplified Form
June 2022 @ The Emporium in Knoxville, TN
Visit my website to view works in this exhibition
(look under the “Beauty Marks” tab in the menu bar:
En Plein Jane
This week I’ve taken on a challenge to create a week long en plein air image. En plein air paintings are commonly completed start to finish in a couple of hours moving quickly through the processes of creating a representation. But we’ve had a week of consistent early morning forecast conditions, and I’ve got daily access to a vista I’ve been longing to capture, so I took the plunge! And the experiment has been just plain fun! I left my easel in the same spot to return to daily to add value in layers to develop my impression of a calm, quiet, early morning lake at peace. Instead of the typical “speed painting” required for painting outdoors, this method allowed each day’s paint application to dry until the next day’s session. But this method also presented its own challenges of trial and error lessons, not only for painting but also for life. The temptation to move ahead of the slow, step by step, day by day process. Mistakes that could not be retouched until the next day or better yet just living with them. The darkness more often than not shapes the light. Reminds me of the humbling Words in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…”. Although I wish I had chosen a different surface for this project and next time I’ll probably do things differently, it was a fun experiment and I learned good lessons. And…It’s plain to see…my weaknesses are covered by His Grace.
Heaven on earth?
I have to admit it! I love chocolate. Embarrassingly, I will also admit uttering the words, “heaven on earth” to describe my delight at the taste of fine bittersweet dark chocolate. This admiration is even affecting my painting subject matter! I have just completed this new painting which is titled, Be Mine. Objectively its an image which depicts a box of assorted chocolates wrapped in thin fluted papers and nestled in a foil tray with individual slots for each confection. I enjoyed consuming these “art models” after the photos were completed, but this canvas has also “consumed” me over the past weeks. In the process of the color mixing, layering, and applying paint I had an epiphany that there might be a biblical lesson for me, for you, for us in this image. Subjectively there might be something deeper.
Differently similar... Notice that the candies are all the same in that they are all some sort of chocolate. Yet isn’t it interesting how each of the varieties of candy has its own personality, its own unique shape, color, decoration and flavor. Almost as if each is a portrait. They even take up the space in their wrappers differently, but each one is special, desirable, usable, purposeful. By themselves, they would still be wonderful, but not nearly as exciting or complete as the whole box filled with the assortment.
Whole... The box is made whole with the coming together of the differently similar individual pieces. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities but in the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
Who knew (except Forrest Gump) that a box of chocolates could be a beautiful picture of God’s plan all along—the differently similar coming together for the common good of the whole? Heaven on earth!
Be Mine; 36” x 36” Acrylic on Canvas
Daily Glory Glimpses Blog
And The Beat Goes On...
"Oh Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things!" Psalm 98:1
In bible study each week this summer we have been discussing a different theme found in the scriptures. This past week our theme was, "The Song". As we discovered through brainstorming the word song, reading verses & readings about song, and praying, meditating & sharing about song, we discovered that "The Song" is God. "The Song" is Jesus. "The Song" is the Holy Spirit. "The Song" is you.
He sings His Song over you and through you. He longs to hear you sing your song(which is His Song). Your Song is yours alone. Unique. The wonderful thing we discovered about our individually, unique Songs is that they are not meant for us alone. He gifts them to us for the benefit of Glorifying Himself to others. So what is your Song? Music? Singing? Of Course! But HIS Song in you goes beyond the obvious. Dancing, painting, drawing, cooking, cleaning, sewing, nursing, fishing, swimming, exercising, biking, walking, running, reading, writing, speaking, preaching, listening, care-giving, acting, experimenting, creating, solving, marketing, communicating, designing, animal advocating, teaching, ... ! I could go on and on because HIS Song that He is singing through you is whatever He has gifted to you to further His Kingdom here on earth for His Glory. Your Song is what comes naturally to you, makes you most excited, fulfilled, purposeful, passionate. But, as one of the women in our group shared during our discussion, "Our individual Songs, are like notes in a piece of music. There are vast numbers of notes in any given musical arrangement that together create the harmony and sound the composer imagines. Each of us is a note in God's Grand Composition. If we do not "sing our note" (our Song), there is something missing in the Grand Song." Are you singing your Song? Get out there and Sing people! And don't miss a beat.
Daily Glory Glimpses Blog
This little guy, for me, is a fitting metaphor for the times we are in the midst of. His title is, “Unemployed”. He is and has been patiently and obediently waiting for the time when he can once again be put back to work. Only, when that time comes, the return will be with more enthusiasm?, energy?, excitement?, or even a whole new job and usefulness altogether?. We shall see what is to be. Soon.
“This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. …” Jeremiah 18:1-6
Daily Glory Glimpses Blog
"And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus." Luke 24:2-3
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"In Lock Down?"
These days of “lock down” during the COVID19 pandemic seem like someone has “locked the door and thrown away the key”! Days and weeks going by for what “seems an eternity” with no official end in sight. And that predicament is reality at this time in our world, but it is not Truth for True Eternity.
Today is Good Friday. And because of what we remember happening on this day over 2000 years ago, we are not locked out! Christ Jesus, the Son in the Holy Trinity, was crucified in our place. The Door opened Eternity. The Gate is unlocked. His sacrificial Act was the Key that opened the Lock. Now the Gatekeeper opens the gate to anyone who accepts His offer to enter and enjoy His Sweet Pastures. Its indescribably beautiful on His side of the Gate! Are you longing to follow the sheep that are grazing there? What are you waiting for?!
“But he who enters by the Door is the Shepherd of the sheep. To Him the Gatekeeper opens. … I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and go in and find pasture. … I lay down My Life for the sheep. …” John 10: 2-3, 9, 15
Daily Glory Glimpses
Trash or Treasure?
I am on an adventure to seek-out Glimpses of God’s Glory in a 30 day/30 paintings challenge. It is joyful anticipation to find a subject to paint on a small canvas each day. Some of the “scenes” so far have been obviously beautifully inspiring like: clay flowerpots kissed by the rays of the warm spring sunrise, or photos taken last Mother’s Day of table centerpieces of red roses and pink tulips in green glass mason jars, or my neighbors abandoned, rusty, vine covered, metal mailbox. Some days it has been more challenging to find subjects to paint though, due to the many everyday housekeeping tasks that beckon outside of what I have come to refer to as my “Pandemic Confinement Therapy Painting”. But believe it or not, even drudgery tasks like dishes, laundry and trash can make for some interesting subjects to capture on canvas.
I recently posted 3 of these daily paintings on Facebook just for fun with the hope of bringing some giggles and lightening the air a bit. A close friend commented that “…you can take laundry and garbage and make it beautiful with light, now there is a devotional.” She speaks Truth!
These everyday tasks (as well as being quarantined in our homes for extended periods of time) can be anything but beautiful when they are viewed or experienced in darkness, or drabness. It can all weigh us down. But catch a glimpse of sunlight streaming in through a window falling across a laundry basket piled with soiled clothes and instantly they are worthy of capturing with oil paint. Likewise, when we seek God in the midst of things that aren’t so pretty, even ugly sometimes, He will always show us something beautiful and it is as if He has shined a bright Light on the grayness. Bestselling christian author and motivational speaker, Ann Voskamp, puts it this way, “The secret Joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.” (One Thousand Gifts, 2010)
The “secret Joy” can be that laundry means your children are safe at home, dishes can mean you had enough to eat, and taking out the trash could mean your chores are completed for the day.
Seek His Light in all things and He will be faithful to Shine even in the darkest places.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5
Rock n' Roll
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. Matthew 7:25
This surreal situation we find ourselves in due to the worldwide pandemic of the novel Coronavirus offers all of us the opportunity to slow down and reflect on the Ground we stand on. If we are actually doing what we have been asked to do, and staying at home to work, school, and exist, we have a lot of time on our hands that we are unaccustomed to. We can find that boring, frustrating and anxiety ridden, or we can embrace it and take advantage of the opportunity to spend the extra time doing chores that have been put on the back burner of procrastination, embark on a new activity or hobby we never had time for before, and best of all catch up on reading, including God's Word which will keep our feet firmly planted. The Scriptures are packed full of of reassuring verses that have stood the test of tribulation since time began.
Many of us are really struggling with anxiety about the unknowns of the coming weeks: "Will I catch the virus?", "Will a loved one catch the virus?", "I've been laid off or have lost my job because of the virus, what does the future hold?". Lots of questions and not many answers because this is an arena that our country has not faced before, "unknown stomping grounds". But, if you have built your life (your foundation) on trusting that the Lord will provide, and He will never leave you or forsake you, you can experience Peace during this time, so that you don't feel like you are being drug under by the quicksand.
In addition to the pandemic, here in the south, we have also experienced much rain, flooding, and even Tornadoes. But we have witnessed testimony of those who experienced the most devastation proclaim that their foundation was the Rock. The Rock Who is immovable in any situation. "On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand!". I'm striving to put my trust in the Rock, so I can keep on rollin'.
Easy breezy lemon squeezy...
I always ask for lemon with my sweet tea. It adds a bit of sour to the sweetness and the combination is pretty satisfying. But to get the zesty citrus flavor into the drink the fruit has to be pressed and squeezed. I imagine it is uncomfortable for the lemon wedge, but it changes the beverage experience into something beyond average.
Have you ever heard the quote by Theodore Roosevelt, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life.” I have come to know Truth in these words. The more difficult a project or task, the more fulfilled I am upon its completion. I think the same is true when we are asked to endure difficult circumstances and tragedy. The way we choose to let the situation affect us can define our joy or our misery. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” (Elbert Hubbard ) When we are faced with adversity and misfortune it can sour us or we can choose to endure by His Grace and sweeten the journey. Oswald Chambers said it this way, “The burden God places squeezes the grapes and out comes the wine.” I choose lemonade, wine & sweet tea with lemon:)
“Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you…” Psalm 55:22
The photo above is just a portion of the painting titled "Sweet Tea with Lemon". To see it in its entirety visit my website www.janefnewman.com or stop by In Town Gallery.
Daily Glory Glimpses Blog