Art Day

Oil PastelRecently I hosted an art day….one of my most favorite things to do. Ordinarily I pack an art suitcase along with my regular bag, schlep everything to an airport, navigate a particular airport’s version of security, and fly to a distant destination. But last Saturday the art day was at my home. Twelve lovely women surrounded the prepared tables and we made art from ten to five that were creative expressions of their lives and faith. And I forgot to take pictures!

But, because I did, I’m going to describe our art day so that you too imagine what you would have created if you had joined us.

As a rule, most art teachers provide a sample of the art activity being introduced, so the images in this post were those that I shared with the art makers present. Of course, their work was often much better, surprisingly personal, and therefore, more profound. The art day had an intentional spiritual focus of making art as an expression of faith. The first activity was an oil pastel with baby oil coupled with an invitation to create an image of praise, perhaps based on a psalm or favorite Scripture. We used either Strathmore Bristol board (available at an art and crafts supply stores)  or  Wausau Exact Bristol semi smooth card stock (available at office supply stores), CrayPas oil pastels, baby oil and 3M’s Edge-Lock masking tape (it has a low-medium tack – most masking tapes have a medium tack and tear the surface of Bristol board when removed). This photo gallery illustrates the step by step process.

Broken PotThe second art activity of the late morning slipping into lunch time was the “Broken Pot,” a highly metaphoric process addressing issues of brokenness, healing and transformation. The art makers smashed their pots with hammers inside a brown paper bag, spilled shattered pieces out on a paper plate, and began “rebuilding their pots as the pots wanted to be built” using Elmer’s glue. There is intentional frustration built into the activity because I provide a glue that takes a long time to set up. It isn’t long before someone begins to complain. That provides an opportunity to talk about how we all want a quick fix for our brokenness, but that time, perseverance, and creativity are often necessary for healing to take place.

Our third project was based on prayers of laments Called “Dark Thoughts/Bright Hopes,” each art maker created a watercolor image of hope. While that dried, they wrote on black paper with pencils their hurts, angers, fears, frustrations, etc…..their dark thoughts. The Psalms have a number of laments, but typically the psalm eventually shifts tone, often with transitional words like yet, however, nevertheless. The transition begins to focus on the power and goodness of God. Two themes are woven together – dark thoughts and bright hopes. So we created woven pieces cutting the watercolor pieces one direction, and the black writing pieces the other, and then weaving them together. What tends to emerge as the more predominate images are those of hope, even if it’s only glowing color.Wordweave

“Stepping into the Gap” was our final art activity of the day. Two circles were overlapped creating a Venn diagram called a mandorla, the Italian word for almond. Based on Frederick Buechner’s quote “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet,” each woman filled in the first crescent of the mandorla with images or symbols that represented her life – family, where she lived, education, work, interests, aptitudes, etc. The central almond shape was to be filled with words identifying giftedness and abilities. The first two segments represent the aspects and essence of “deep gladness.” The second crescent was the population each was drawn to – that place where each individual’s “deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger.”

Stepping Into the Gap

The day and our hearts were full to overflowing by the time we shared from the deep places of our lives through what was created in each person’s art work.

I hope that you might choose to create some of these activities, if only in your imagination. What would an image of praise look like for you? How might your broken pot want to be rebuilt? What would you create for an image of bright hope? What dark thoughts would you weave into it? How about your “deep gladness?” The “world’s deep hunger?”

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