Project 3, Post 1: Melted Crayons & Smothered Light

Project 3, Post 1: Melted Crayons & Smothered Light

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Introduction & Artistic Process:

A few months back, I found an unfinished painting behind my wardrobe. It was a picture of a leafless tree against the backdrop of vibrant yellow and red (shown above). I decided to finish the piece. It was to be a bumpy road… one which I am now going back and reflecting upon.

I love experimenting. In 2015, I created a painting of dandelions using acrylic paint and melted crayons (pictured below). I had been somewhat disappointed with the finished project, but – as with many of my pieces that I feel are flops – others adored my dandelion creation. It had long, arduous, and sometimes frustrating endeavor, but the piece became a fan favorite!

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So, gazing upon my leaf-barren tree, I decided to experiment with melting crayons once again…. Yet, I was about to reminded that not every experiment turns out well.

I began by cutting and then gluing tiny fragments crayons onto the grass areas of my piece. Next, I used a hair dryer to melt the crayons, holding the canvas at a tilt so that the liquefied, colored wax would run upward like shoots of grass. Hmmm… I thought to myself. That doesn’t look right…

Undeterred, or oblivious to the gravity of my mistake, I made things even worse. I added bits of crayon to the branches of my tree, melting the colored wax into what turned out looking like a dark blob with sporadic offshoots like fingers. Ahhhhh! What have I done??? My tree looked like a “swamp thing.” At once I realized that I had destructively altered a painting. It had been full of bright light, but I had smothered that light. The painting was now heavy and dark and seemed as if it had entered a state of madness. The few areas of light remaining had lost their vibrancy and seemed completely at odds with the dark and heavy wax now covering so much of my piece. The light seemed almost as if was now locked in battle with the swamp thing itself.

 

What had started with a small number of tiny crayon fragments, scattered around the base of my tree, had grown into weeds, casting shadow upon and overtaking the grass below. I could have stopped this invasive species right then and there. Instead, I allowed it to spread… I participated in its invasion upward. It only took a few minuscule flecks of crayon, settling in among the branches of its intended victim, to ultimately blanket the poor tree on a thick coat darkness. The weeds had spread and shut out the light.

“A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough.” ~Galatians 5:9

Reflection:

What had been done to my tree is not dissimilar to what is being done to our churches and to the body of Christ. Weeds live amongst the scattered grasses in every area of the world. These weeds have even taken root in most of the branches of Christianity the world over. It is their constant desire for and their coveting of others’ nutrients to drain that compels the spread of the weeds, just like kudzu, the plant that ate the South.

Subversives are as old as time… “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

The Christian church has always been under attack. Christian themselves come under attack from the very moment they devote themselves to Christ; a fact of which, unfortunately, many Christians are never warned. Perhaps, though, one of the most tragic aspect of Satan’s slow march toward church destruction and Christian enslavement is that so many of us actually aid the enemy himself. Our precious nutrients are what Satan and his servants rob from us and consume. Courage, conscience, certainty, trust, faith, conviction, foresight, clarity, honesty, kindness, generosity, chastity, and reason are just a few of our nutrients upon which the subversives feed upon in service to their master.

“This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.”     ~Galatians 2:4

Confronting our own participation – whether accidental, passive, or purposeful – in Satan’s schemes is essential. Just as I was forced to contend with what I had done to my poor painting, we Christians must contend with the darkness we have allowed to progressively blanket our churches in darkness under our watch.

In my next post, I will cover my first steps toward saving my painting, and, God willing, I will discuss the issues we must contend with and the steps that we must take to renew the Body of Christ and our churches. Remember: God is our savior, our everything! The road won’t be easy and I am sure to receive some unwanted attention from the dark realms. I ask you to join me in this journey, and to please pray for my protection and for your protection as, together with God, we delve into this pressing matter.

Project 1, Post 7: A Little Elbow Grease

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Reflection:

Holding a hard-bristled dish brush in one hand, I stared at my painting contemplating what I was about to do to it, to inflict upon it. I took one last deep breath and then began scrubbing my painting with ferocity and determination. I scrubbed – and I scrubbed – and I scrubbed – chipping away at the very paint I had purposefully laid upon that canvas. I chiseled away parts of the blue flower petals that I had so carefully composed.

I was on a mission to expose flecks of the aluminum foil squares that I had used as the foundation beneath my painting. It was actually working! It sure was not easy though. Actually, the entire scrubbing process required far more elbow grease than I had anticipated. It also took some time. Nevertheless, I began to be filled with more and more pleasure as the fruit of my labor began to be seen.

As I continued, switching off between arms after one became tired from scrubbing, I remembered a brief verse in the book of Genesis.

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis, 2:15)

Wait… Adam had to work when he was living in the Garden of Eden? Yes, he sure did. We (humans) were designed by God to toil, to work (in many different forms of course). Even in Eden, life for Adam and Eve was not without effort.

Sometimes we can become discouraged at our constant toils, wishing life were an endless vacation. However, hard work is often a blessing in disguise. Work gives us pleasure and satisfaction in seeing the products of our labor. Work gives us purpose and a sense of self-worth. Work allows us to find a sense of value and pride in ourselves, often when we need it the most.

So, whatever you do each day – whether it is sowing a field, filing paperwork, waking repeatedly in the night to feed a crying baby, turning wrenches, raising children, flipping burgers, etc. – do it heartily. The fruits of your labor might not be seen right away, but in time you shall be blessed.

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)

Artistic Process:

You have probably seen old buildings with paintings on the side. Although weathering and age have stripped pieces of those paintings away you can still see the integrity of the images. That was my goal in scrubbing my painting in order to allow the aluminum to peak through. I didn’t want to demolish my work, but instead allow small flecks of foil to add depth, texture and character to the piece.

Project 1, Post 6: To Pee or Not to Pee… It’s Complicated

Project 1, Post 6: To Pee or Not To Pee… It’s Complicated

Preface to Reflection:

In my last post I described my intention to paint “simplistic” blue flowers, as well as the fact that simplicity isn’t one of my innate artistic abilities. Well, my blue flowers have now turned out more complicated than I intended for them to be. Yes, my three, blue flowers are still somewhat simple, but far more complicated than I had imagined in my mind. This is often the case with my artwork.

Note: In my next post, I will test my original hypothesis and will try to UNCOVER the aluminum foil that I laid underneath my painting. I shall see if it actually works! Gosh, I sure hope that it does!!!

(Read the Artistic Process below the Reflection.)

Reflection:

It’s complicated…

In life, there are few issues that are simple, black and white, and straight forward. Most of life’s journey leads us down complicated paths and requires us to make decisions regarding complicated choices, complicated issues. …Such is true for the North Carolina “Bathroom Bill.”

Celebrities, sports organizations, large companies, politicians, etc. have decried North Carolina’s law requiring people use the restroom that coincides with the sex on their birth certified, which in almost all cases is one’s biological sex.

It’s discrimination! It’s bigotry! It’s hate!  –  Or is it?

There are several key elements/points one must examine to determine the answer to this question:

  • North Carolina state law was already in place prohibiting localities from enacting their own anti-discrimination rules. Thus, the city of Charlotte broke state law by doing so. The only reason the state legislature even acted on this matter was a direct response to a municipality disregarding state policy. This, the state has attempted to restore uniformity.
  • Why is it important for municipalities to align with the state? As a human development professional, it is easy for me to understand why. Humans being flourish and society too flourishes when there is a clear set of rules and expectations, called boundaries. *These are the good kind of boundaries that are vital for our well-being, children and adults alike. In government, the state sets a particular set of boundaries. It is important for municipalities to work with those assigned boundaries to prevent chaos within the state itself, ensuring civic/government functionality. For example, a state citizen may move from one city to another already knowing the rules. Sally won’t have to fear possible fines or jail time for breaking a law that she never knew existed simply by changing her address. Johnny won’t be able to move from one city to the other just so he can purposefully commit an offense that was illegal in his original city of dwelling. So, this uniformity guarantees accountability for all citizens and it also guarantees protections for all citizens within the state.
  • Subjective ideas driving laws ignores factual evidence, thus creating laws that were formed with little higher-level, critical thinking or considerations. Case in point, human beings are prone to taking full advantage of situations entirely for their own benefit.

Two examples:

  1. At a restaurant when I was 11 years old, I can remember my mother “identifying” me to the waiter as being 10 years old in order to pay the discounted meal cost for children “10 and under.” Did she forget that I was 11? I doubt it.
  2. At an event a couple of years later, I can remember my father “identifying” me to the Doorman as being 13 years old so that he and I could attend the event which prohibited children twelve years and under. At the time, I was 12. Had my dad mistakenly aged me up by one year? I doubt it.

These harmless examples show how every day, good, normally honest people will sometimes be dishonest for their own gain. Do you know anyone who used a fake ID in high school or college?

*The point is that it is foolish to presume anything contrary to the absolute, concrete fact that there would most definitely be people jumping at the chance to “identify” as one sex in order to gain access to the restroom used by people of the other sex simply for perverse, personal gain.

  • Privacy and Safety for All State Citizens: Fact- Men and women are physically different. Men are naturally stronger, even those who possess a slight, unassuming, physical stature. Fact- Bathrooms are closed, secluded spaces usually consisting of only 1 exit. It is entirely reasonable for women to feel uncomfortable and fearful at the idea of being alone in confined, isolated spaces with men who are strangers. Women are taken advantage of by men every day in this country, often in spaces incompatible with the ability for an easy escape.
  •  Fact- People like privacy. Apple refused to unlock a terrorist’s iPhone for privacy’s sake. Fact- Gender and sexual orientation do not always match. Many transsexuals are still attracted to people of the opposite sex, to the people of the very sex the transsexuals are trying to become. Thus, simply because a man is living as a woman does not mean he is not still very much “straight,” attracted to women. Given these facts, for the average person, changing in front of a transsexual still renders the same level of emotional discomfort, fear, and feelings of complete exposure as would changing in front of the opposite sex. So, would it have been acceptable for the state government to force modest citizens into humility and strip them of their integrity and privacy by requiring them to undress in the presence of the opposite sex? Should we all hand over our phones and most intimate moments to the government to put on public display? Of course not. Acting to protect the physical privacy and integrity of citizens should be understood as a highly valued virtue of any government.
  • Emotional Suffering from Both Sides: Transsexual individuals say they would feel uncomfortable using the restroom of their biological sex. I understand that. If a man were living as a women, I can easily see that using the men’s bathroom would cause someone fear and emotional distress. Yet, the same is true for the general population. Would it be wise for the government to demoralize the masses to appease a few? Is that just law? More importantly, is that a characteristic of a genuinely representative government, one that disenfranchises almost all of its citizens? Would a representative government only extend its empathy to a few?

Would a representative government rank and determine the innate value of its citizens by the amount of corporate money it receives? Does Apple determine your personal worth? Of course not.

  • Is granting special privileges based on subjective ideals about someone’s identify the only way to accommodate this small segment of society? No.

 

This is a complicated issue that has little, if any link to acceptance and discrimination- the black and white clarity that some would prefer us to believe. As a minister I feel it is my duty to point out the truths that are often hidden beneath the emotional hysteria of public outrage.

In conclusion, when considering – and I mean honestly considering – the above points I believe it is extremely difficult to deny the evidence that North Carolina in no way acted in a discriminatory, bigoted or hateful fashion. Instead, I argue that the state should be commended for its common sense, critically composed and conceptualized policy: a policy that far more adequately represents its own citizens than any pretend-policy that may possibly be proposed by the “vocabulary-stone” throwing, loud mouths attempting to degrade the very human worth of all who oppose their subjective, ever-evolving views.

I pray that the leaders in North Carolina will be given the strength needed to stay the course and that those so filled with anger and misinformation find the peace and openness of mind to consider the truths of some views contrary to their own. I also pray that all of us are able to understand and consider just how complicating some issues are and that we seek that information in order to be informed citizens. Amen!

The Artistic Process:

To add depth, I used bright, light blue and white to define the outer edges of the petals, especially where the petals overlap. To further accentuate this, I used deep, dark blue directly next to the bright blues and whites, giving the illusion of shadow upon the lower petals. To add a pinch of color variation, I used my fingers to smear yellow paint onto the petals in small areas. Later, in keeping with a contemporary-impressionistic approach, I used solid black to outline the flowers, adding a few black flecks upon the petals where desired. *Note: If you have difficulty with placing lights and darks, just reference a picture of a flower and focus on the shadows and brightest points on each petal.

In the background, I added tall reeds using long, smooth strokes. I brought in the yellow from the petals by creating the illusion of wheat/cat tails. Using quick, rapid, “conscience—free” strokes of the paint brush, I striped/flicked on the paint to create the feathering bristles of tall wheat grass.