An apple is probably the most drawn object in art classes. For beginners it is the perfect object for learning sketching, contouring, massing, and value. After these initial lessons have been practiced I often let the students eat the apple leaving the core for our final drawing for the day. The core is for me the most interesting exercise because all of a sudden what was a smooth, shiny, "perfect" object now has a character all its own with interesting shape, texture, contour, value and sometimes even deep within the "heart" of it you can see the seed exposed. You can finally see what the object is made of. There is an allegory in this somewhere...the discovery of what lies beneath the surface can reveal a Glimpse of His Glory:)
"...Did not he who made the outside make the inside also?"Luke 11:40
"Established artists are always seeking beginner minds." This quote from Leonardo DaVinci is one my favorites. I share it with beginning drawing students to congratulate them for pursuing something new and for being willing to expand they minds into another realm of Creation. We should never be too "advanced" to learn something new and if we are always seeking with the mind of a beginner there will always be something new to discover. Drawing classes introduce artists to simple, basic forms to practice drawing skills. No matter your skill level, these "pure" shapes are not only valuable practice, but there is always something that can be learned anew if we are open to learning it. Just like the lessons we can learn from rereading a biblical verse or passage over time. They hold a new meaning depending on where we are on our journey or what situation we find ourselves in. A Glimpse of His Glory peaks through each word revealing the pure & simple that we are longing for.
"Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk,..." 1 Peter 2:2
Its easy for me to see a Glimpse of His Glory when the rising sun peaks through the windows and bathes any object in its path with its golden Light. My soul wishes to drop everything and and grab a paint brush to attempt capturing the moment. Every painting inspiration comes from the Light kissing objects and defining their form. Maybe that is true for us as well? When the Light envelopes us, our true nature is revealed.
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. Isaiah 60:1
If you want to be absolutely overtaken by a Glimpse of God's Glory, take a short drive out Ooltewah Georgetown Road. Over the next week or so there is a field of sunflowers blooming in all its magnificence! It is mesmerizing, like you are in the Land of Oz surreal. I am overtaken with the majesty and splendor of the artwork of our Creator!
"The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,..." Psalm 24:1
"...Let the sun shine in, face it with a grin; smilers never loose & frowners never win! So let the sun shine in, face it with a grin; open up your heart and let the sun shine in!" (Stuart Hamblen)
When I graduated from kindergarten we sang this song at our graduation. I'm not going to discuss how long ago that was, but just know that I am amazed that I can remember it so well. Must be the message it shares that it has stuck in my head(&heart) so deeply. I long to live out this tune's refrain and pray that my grin will be a glimpse of His Glory for someone today.
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26
A fun teacher I experienced at a workshop not long ago advised that to become a better artist we must "draw something everyday". Just like the age old advise, "practice makes perfect". Since that workshop I have tried to carry a sketchbook with me everywhere I go. I use it for everything from taking notes in meetings, to sketching the sermon in pictures on Sunday mornings. And the more I doodle, the more comfortable I feel about rendering our world on paper. I guess it should be no different with our call to serve. The more we practice answering the call and saying yes, the better disciples we become. When we do answer, maybe we are a Glimpse of His Glory.
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8
One of my favorite objects to use as subject matter to teach basic 2 point perspective in beginning drawing classes is a brown paper bag. Plain. Simple. Ordinary. Yet familiar. And if it has a few wrinkles and the opening is closed & then folded down and it bulges slightly from its hidden contents, it can make a lovely little sketch. And it is a perfect object for practicing perspective drawing since its basic form is the cube(or slice of the cube). It always amazes me how I find Glimpses of His Glory in these most "Plain Jane" objects, and for me, this particular one has a beautiful lesson to share beyond drawing. If we slow down in our fast paced world to take the time to meet and get to know plain, simple, ordinary folks, we discover lovely people. Some may have a few wrinkles from age or a tough life. Some may be the quiet ones who need time before opening up. But if we get the opportunity to see who they are on the inside, just like the paper bag, treasures can be found that might be the nourishment all of us need. Strangers become friends.
"...He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him." Isaiah 53:2b
This is a quick, on location, watercolor sketch of the church I described in yesterday's post. It does not do justice to how lovely the setting really was. Just being in the vicinity of this Holy place was inspiring. You could feel the presence of others who had been there before. Worshipping. Praying. As Henri Nouwen wrote in his book, Discernment, "...the very chapel where I prayed had been prepared by the faithful ones who had prayed there before me." Wandering down the stone paths that encircled this little chapel and being overcome by His Presence all around was this day's Glimpse of His Glory. And as I strolled I was reminded of and sang to myself a song my children sang in elementary school, "I sing a song of the Saints of God, Patient and Brave and True. Who toiled and fought and lived and died For the Lord they loved and knew. And one was a doctor, and one was a queen, and one was a shepherdess on the green: They were all of them saints of God--and I mean, God helping, to be one too...They lived not only in ages past, There are hundreds and thousands still, The world is bright with joyous saints Who love to do Jesus' will. You can meet them in school, or lanes, or at sea, In church, or on trains, or in shops, or at tea, For the saints of God are just folk like me, And I mean to be one too." (Lesbia Scott, 1929).
"Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name." Psalm 30:4
On a recent trip to the Great Smoky Mountains we passed a beautiful little stone church. While my husband was occupied in a meeting I longed to use the opportunity to fill a painting void and ventured out to investigate the little church "up close and personal". As I wondered around the exterior I found myself in a prayer garden behind the church with stone paths, mature rose bushes and benches to pause and take it all in. I felt His presence all around me in this place. as if the prayers of many had sunk into the very foundation. I discovered a set of stone steps that led up to a little patio area from the rectory next door. The sunlight was peaking through tree branches and leaves dotting the stones of various shades of gray and brown and I knew immediately what I would attempt to paint plein air that morning. (Plein air is what painting on location outdoors is called). A church member was there and asked, "Out of all the places you could choose to paint in the Great Smoky Mountains, I'm surprised you would pick this as your subject?" I explained that it was there that I had spotted a Glimpse of His Glory!
“And there you shall build an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones.” Deuteronomy 27:5
When beginning to draw something, it always works best to begin with basic forms and in a way working from the inside out. During a private drawing lesson with a student who has been practicing for several months, I was made aware of Glimpses of His Glory as I recalled Psalm 139:13-15 while working on a rendering of a tea cup and saucer,
"For You formed my inward parts: You knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth..."
We worked from the inner measurements outward, creating the actual contours of the cup and saucer on the "frame" of the basic forms. As we wrestled with attempting to recreate these mad-made objects I was once again awed by the creation of THE Creator and have no words.