possibility

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Paint stained, memory stained, tear stained shirt is her heart inside out in the only room where she is right side in. Blank canvases hang limply on the wall waiting for her touch. “What do you see?” they ask. “What do you make of us?”

Tall windows testify to a world outside that is no more complete than the bleached fibres her fingers slowly make their way across. “What can I give to you?” she asks.

A shape, an image, a dream rasps softly against the surface. Possibility.

Her colours come out, the only ones she has. Tubes half empty, worn at the edges, shaped from years of use. And then the edges, the tools to mix and shape. Her tools. The ones that feel at home in her hands. She holds them like old friends and trusts them to work with her like so many times before. Her arms remember the movements even when storms of grief strip away her shoreline.

Colours dry for days, for weeks, no changes. She returns.

Paint stained, memory stained, tear stained shirt is her heart inside out in the only room where she is right side in. Colour carved canvases hang limply on the wall waiting for her touch. “What do you see?” they ask. “What do you make of us?”

Tall windows testify to a world outside that is no more complete than the stained fibres her fingers slowly make their way across. “What can I give to you?” she asks.

A shape, an image, a dream rasps softly against the surface. Possibility.

walk around like the good work of art you are

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Imagine a world where art took in a breath and came to life. Imagine it walking through the streets stirring up questions about existence, about purpose, about possibilities. It would congregate where shadows gather, lighting up dark allies that strike fear.

Fear begins to pitch its tent in the streets around me. It sells its fortune-telling trinkets from stalls glittering in dark omens on every street corner, computer and smart phone. Fight, flight or freeze – natural responses, normal responses, survival responses.

But I want to respond differently. I don’t want to be afraid. It muddies the waters and stifles out life. It steals away joy and cauterizes contentment. I want to be beauty. I want to be art. I want to speak to these streets and shout, “It doesn’t have to be this way!”

In the beginning God created a sculpture from the earth, a work of art intended to live. I don’t particularly care about the techniques he used or how long it took him. The result was beautiful. And then he breathed into it. And it lived, perfectly, for a while until diluting the breath of God with toxic pride.

Fear came. Death came. Hatred came.

That is what we were made to be. Living works of art with the breath of God in us. We still can be, but it’s a little harder than before. We have to seek out his life in us. We have to pull down the bricks we’ve built around our hearts to keep us safe and let love in. Love will change us. It will pull back our shoulders and set our spines straight. It will clear our muddied thoughts and replace them with wisdom. It will seek and destroy lesions of bitterness that are slowly killing us.

We have a choice, this choice: stand at the stalls of fear, hide in self-preservation or light up the darkness. We cannot do more than one. Want to go on a walk with me?

I want to add to the beauty to tell a better story. I want to shine with the light that’s burning up inside. And this is grace, an invitation to be beautiful. ~ Sara Groves

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exercising creativity

IMG_4954Most of us look at aspects of our lives and world, wishing they could be different in some way. It feels impossible that it could ever get better. We need creativity. We need to think uniquely and usefully so we stop doing the same thing in the same way, getting the same results over and over again.

According to people who study these sorts of things, ‘creativity’ is a relatively new addition to conversation. For the purpose of study and measurement, it is commonly defined as something that is both unique and useful. Creative thinkers help us tease out new solutions and new futures in the midst of existing problems. They inspire us to see the world differently than before. For me, I am increasingly convinced about the importance of providing an environment that encourages the development of creativity in communities. For creativity to have an impact, I am realising two incredibly important pillars that need to be in place.

The opportunity to think differently. We’re not talking about a pseudo individuality here. This is the genuine appreciation for difference. Giving people the opportunity to think differently means that my way might not be the best (or right) way. It is the opposite of conformity of thought and action. It is not limited to one alternate, but many. For someone who sews, creativity is exercised in anything from choosing the colours for a project, to creating a whole new pattern, to sewing a zipper in with a different method. Creativity won’t make sense if you haven’t been given the opportunity to think differently. If you haven’t been given that opportunity in a very long time, you can give it a workout, like a muscle. Go back to the colouring books and, instead of painting the sky blue, change the colours of your whole picture to look a little less realistic. Pick up an object and try to come up with 20 different uses for it other than what it is intended for. Take an autumn leaf off the ground and take a minute to run your fingers over the top, edges and bottom. Look at it up close. Look at it from a distance. See it differently than you have before. Feel it differently than you have before. Visit an artist or an art museum and try to see through their eyes. Let wonder and curiousity back into your life.

The opportunity for skill development. Language is one of the first things we learn as children. Babies experiment with sounds, playing with them as they roll off the tongue until they form into words, sentences and stories. Spoken language becomes a skill that is accessible by the majority of people in the world. Is it any wonder that music, poetry and storytelling are found in every culture in the world? Language and its development shapes the way we view and interpret the world around us. As language changes, we change. As we change, language changes. Language is our first and foremost skill to use creatively. What new ways can we use it to bring meaning to our lives? To become someone who sews (clothes, blankets, curtains, cushions, tents …) there are a few necessary requirements: knowledge of fabric and its care, a needle, thread and knowledge of construction technique. Of course, you also have to have fabric to learn with, not just the knowledge of it. Without these, you will never be able to exercise creativity with fabric. You will only be a dreamer who imagines possibilities. This is the difference between thinking uniquely and thinking creatively. With only skill development, you will create the same thing over and over again. This is the difference between being skilled and being creative.

I like to start where I am, with what I have in my hands. What opportunities have I been given already with the knowledge and materials I have in my hands? Then I begin to think about the many different ways I could use them. Most of my ideas are really rubbish and need to be disregarded. This isn’t failure; this is pruning. Eventually, I will stumble upon something really good that helps me create something beautiful.

We need creative people. We need them in our businesses, in our governments, in our schools, in our communities, in our churches and in our homes.

How can you think differently today? What angles haven’t you considered? What opportunities for skill development are available to you? How can you give courage to someone to think differently today? What skill can you pass on to them? Let’s be creative people together.

the edge of childhood

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Painting by Joy Watts

What do you think is in the forest? …

I think that’s where all my missing footballs are.

I’d say there are dragons with great big blue wings.

Not dragons. There is a village of foxes that make a plan every day how to get our chickens.

Or a trail that leads to a magic waterfall that, when you swim in it, takes you to a palace in the mountains.

Woof

Don’t be stupid. It’s just a bunch of trees.


How could you say that? You’ve still never been in there.

Do you think that anything would happen to me if I looked for my footballs?

The dragons would help you, they are nice dragons.

The foxes are probably using them to practice sneaking.

Maybe they fell into the waterfall. Oh! Can I go look for you?

Woof woof

That isn’t even realistic. You’d just get scratches all over you, and for what? Nothing.


Who cares if it’s realistic. Can’t you remember how to just have fun anymore?

Maybe we should send her in to look for them. If she comes out alive then it’s safe.

I think I just saw one! Did you see that bit of blue? Look!

I missed it. Think that the foxes and the dragons are friends?

Probably, I don’t see how they could be anything but friends when they drink such delicious magic water.

Woof

You are all crazy. I don’t know why I even bother with you. You are so immature.


Maybe you just can’t see from there. Why don’t you climb the fence like us?

There could be anything in there. Climb up! Tell me what you can see.

My dragons might even like you enough to let us see them again.

Your dragons? If they are your dragons then the foxes are mine.

Climb up with us. You used to love this. Remember the birds that used to sing their songs just for us?

Woof woof

… well … maybe … just this one last time.

*This writing was in response to the painting above for Space/Place A Visual and Literary Art Exhibition for Core Art @ St. Catherine’s, June 2015.

the art heart in me

Somewhere deep in the microscopic world of you and me there are secrets about the world that haven’t been told. Spiritual residue sits in wait for a trigger to release a new creation of imagination – stories of what is here and what is yet to come.

It is the art heart. It is that image of God perfection that gives flesh to the questions. It is possibility and reality muddied into an undefinable colour. It speaks a truth not yet understood. With the first exhale there is a cry: “Creator!”

Subdued it finds its proper place of style and expression. Released but tamed it finds an outlet. All the while it knows this world is not its home. We are strangers here wading through foreign objects to our soul. Channel inspiration. Give it substance. But still it beats … there must … be more … there is … much more.

Creator. That is what we have become, living as impressionists of the first. His breath gave it life. The artist, the prophet, the mystic – describe to us what we cannot see. Tell us what could be.

This. This is the art heart in me.

the art heart