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: