I’ve always been an “artist”. Only recently, though, have I really become an artist. That is to say, for most of my life I’ve participated in different forms of art – drawing, photography, landscape painting. It wasn’t until these past few months, though, that I’ve really found my sweet spot – abstract art.
I’ve created a few works of art now and with each one, I’ve discovered a hidden – even spiritual – meaning.
My first piece, Aqua, was kind of my “I’ve struck oil!” piece. It was this piece that sparked something in me, a desire for freedom of expression. I realized then that I loved abstract art more than anything because I could express anything and everything that was within me to express on the blank canvas before me. My fears, hopes, dreams, desires, memories, they poured themselves out as the piece began to take form.
Like Adam from Love and the Sea and Everything in Between, my most recent novel, I have a thing for the ocean. This exchange between Adam and Liz says it all:
“You have a thing for the ocean, don’t you?”
“Because it’s as vast and endless as I feel.”
Endless. This is the word that echoed within the halls of my heart that day as I sat before the canvas, painting with utter abandon. It was a thing of beauty, a moment of passion, as I lost myself in a world of vibrant color and depth. It wasn’t just a moment of carnal or emotional satisfaction, though – it was spiritual too. I felt the word – endless – deep down in my spirit as if it were a part of me. I don’t remember the experience very well, but I remember the feeling I got inside when the piece was finished.
My second painting was called Oasis. It was during my church’s week of prayer at the beginning of this year that I began to hear this word in my spirit, in the same way one hears Holy Spirit when He speaks. As I sat in the altar of my church one night, when the doors were open for those who wanted to pray to come and do so, I began to meditate on this word and its meaning and the weight of said meaning.
That was when I heard it whispered in the back of my mind: “The wonder after the wandering.” Sure, this isn’t the exact, Oxford definition, but there’s a certain spiritual – even emotional – accuracy to it that cannot be denied.
As I heard this, I began to write in my journal, listening for what further definition might be provided. This is what I wrote:
When we come to an oasis, we’re stepping out of a place of desolation, despair, yearning, ruin, and into this place of exquisite beauty that captivates us with this almost euphoric sense of pleasure, satisfaction, and fulfillment. It’s that place we never want to leave.
It struck me so suddenly and so powerfully and I began to envision in my mind an elaborate, abstract piece to depict this idea. Thus, Oasis was born.
My third and most recent painting is called Exuberance. This one was a sort of “prophetic declaration”* painting that I painted for my parents. Exuberance means: “the quality of being full of energy, excitement, and cheerfulness; ebullience.”
I painted this one specifically for my parents because, as pastors, there’s a lot they deal with on a day-to-day basis. From criticisms, counseling, and church hurt to stress, busy schedules, and family issues, they go through a lot. Sadly, joy and cheer is a hard thing to come by. It takes a lot of work, honestly. So, with this painting, I wanted to embody that feeling of energy, excitement, and enthusiasm.
Admittedly, it didn’t turn out as I’d originally planned, but the more I look at it, the deeper it becomes. It’s one of those pieces that just evokes something inside of you. And that’s what I was going for.
It’s interesting to see the depth of painting when you merge every aspect of your soul together and express the things that live inside you without bounds. Art really is an expression of body, heart, and soul.
*If anyone is interested in what I mean by “prophetic declaration”, feel free to ask in the comments! I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.