Invitation to the light – Cold Wax painting

Invitation to the light – Cold Wax painting

Finally, I no longer want to hide the paintings that are now on display at the exhibition in Wels. As it says in the invitation for the opening, they are very personal – they reflect certain mile stones of my personal journey with Jesus, which is a journey of healing from deep hurts to freedom and wholeness.

Light on the Path
Light on the Path

Come, dare to walk the way with me

God’s light falls on our path and we are challenged to decide, whether we accept the invitation or not. Will we continue on our way, following the others, the masses? Or do we dare to break out? It is a risk, since we don’t know what exactly it means to be ‘en route’ with God.

At least that’s how I experienced it: as an 18 year old atheist I suddenly realized that God does exist and that I am not in harmony with him. I knew without any human explanation that if I died today, I would not be with God but somewhere else – far away. The light fell onto my way. I stood a the crossing and could not know whether I will get another chance. My thoughts went back and forth. What should I do? This was no longer a question whether God existed. I also understood where I would end up if I continued as before. It was more the questions: what it entailed, what God would expect, what are my motives, would it be an egoistic motive? My reflection did not get me anywhere. My thought where quite confused.

In the end I decided that I could know the answers to my questions, unless I tried it out. And so I dared to accept the risk – I invited Jesus to take over the leadership of my life and lead me on this new way to the light – back to God. Since then I am ‘en route’ with Jesus and I have never regretted it.

Liberation Dance – Acrylic & Oil Painting

Liberation Dance – Acrylic & Oil Painting

This mixed media painting is part of the series “Dance of the Trees”. It shows a tree which is half tree, half dancer emerging from the tree trunk. Some of the branches still try to hold onto the dancer. The facial expression is patterned after Edvard Munch‘s “The Scream“. The background has the color palette of a beautiful sunrise. Maybe this means it is the morning of a new and liberated life?

The background is painted with acrylic paint, while the tree and the dancer are painted with oil paint.

Liberation Dance - Acrylic & Oil Painting
Liberation Dance – Acrylic & Oil Painting

This painting is presently on display at the Atrium, Bad Schallerbach, Upper Austria, and is for sale after the exhibition (at the end of October). Contact me if you are interested in buying the original. If you want to buy canvas prints, posters and greeting cards, go here.

Consuming Fire – Acrylic Painting

Consuming Fire – Acrylic Painting

This is my second large-scale painting. It is the same size as the last one – 120 x 100 cm (48 x 40 in) on a deep edge canvas.

Two rows of poplar tress draw our eyes toward a very bright light in the middle that turns out to be a fire. Those trees that are closest to the fire are burning, but are not consumed. In the light of the fire the skyline of a city is visible and seems to float above the ground. It is the skyline of Jerusalem. Or maybe it is the heavenly Jerusalem?

One description of Yahweh, the God of the Bible, is “Consuming Fire”:

For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Deut 4:24

This is also the title of the painting. In God’s presence there is no room for anything that is sinful. God’s fire consumes anything that is not holy. On the other hand, when God appears to Moses in the desert, the flames of fire seem to burn in a thorn bush but without consuming it. (Ex 3)

Consuming Fire Large scale acrylic painting
Consuming Fire – Acrylic Painting

This painting is presently exhibited at the Atrium in Bad Schallerbach. Once the exhibition is over at the end of October the painting is for sale. Contact me if you are interested. You can buy canvas prints, posters and greetings cards here.

Rooted – Acrylic Painting

Rooted – Acrylic Painting

This acrylic painting was some time in the making. I started it during the art conference at the beginning of August, but was not satisfied with the background. This week I finally finished it, only two days before the opening of my exhibition. The day before the exhibition I still needed to frame it, and while I was still struggling to lock the back cover of the frame, I tore my back. Ouch! Not a good thing on the day you want to hang the 40+ paintings for an exhibition. Fortunately, I had help from friends and together we were able to put all paintings up, ready for the opening.

The painting shows a vine with leaves and bunches of grapes, sitting on and rooted in a big red cross that lies on the ground in between tufts of grass. The background is full of light like during a sunrise.

Verwurzelt Acryl Malerei
Verwurzelt Acryl Malerei

Different people have different roots, different foundations, different priorities. My priority is to be deeply rooted in the person who is symbolized by the cross and calls himself the “true vine” – Jesus:

I am the vine; you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me and I in him,
he it is that bears much fruit,
for apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5

His presence in my life caused the healing, liberation and inspiration that I have experienced and that enabled me to be an artist.

Safe Spot – Gouache Painting

Safe Spot under the Willow – Gouache Painting

Here is another painting with a willow tree, but this time in symbolism style. Would you not enjoy sitting on this bench under a willow tree that seems to glow and radiate light while at the same time protecting from the darkness around, and watching the peaceful stream amble by. It’s a place of rest and security. This is how I picture my safe spot, where I can listen to God’s voice and experience his comforting presence.

Save Spot - Gouache Painting
Save Spot – Gouache Painting

This painting will be part of my exhibition. You can buy art prints, posters and greeting cards here.

Eyes to See

Eyes to See

An African proverb says: “The eyes of the foreigner are big but he does not see a thing.” It’s so true – you have to learn to see things in another culture. Otherwise you can look straight at things and you don’t have a clue what you are seeing.

The following paragraphs are the introduction to an interesting book review but I was even more fascinated by the personal examples in the introduction:

In college, I took a class with Toni Morrison based upon a collection of her essays called Playing in the Dark. The premise of the essays, and of the class itself, was that American literature has been shaped from the beginning by the unsettling presence of “American Africanism.” There is no need to get into the nuances of her argument here. I mention it only because after I took Morrison’s class, I read books differently. I was attuned to marginal figures. I noticed how black people were portrayed, or how their presence was avoided. I noticed motifs of darkness and light. I watched movies differently too, attending to the way certain racial groups were used as props instead of being presented as real characters. That class taught me to see differently.

Having a child with Down syndrome is also teaching me to see differently.

I think, for example, of the time when I attended a conference at a monastery in South Carolina. Our first night at the conference, we gathered for a short Bible reading and blessing before supper. An elderly man, one of the brothers in the monastery, held the responsibility of reading and praying for us. He walked unevenly to the podium, with his head tilted to the side. He stood behind the Bible, flipping through the pages, back and forth, with a puzzled expression. Finally, he looked to another brother and said, “I can’t find Genesis 1.” The other brother gently turned to the beginning of the Bible, and the first brother began to read. His speech was imperfect. He stumbled through the words and they came out somewhat garbled.

A few years earlier, before our daughter Penny was born, I would have been filled with impatience and cynicism. I would have been thinking, why can’t they find someone who can read, who at least knows where the first book in the Bible is located? But that night, I stood with rapt attention, grateful that I could receive the Word of God from this man. I was able to see him as a fellow Christian, offering a blessing on my behalf. I was able to see him as a messenger of hope, a vision of a community in Christ that might one day include my daughter, and even include her as one who could read God’s Word publicly, who could offer a collective prayer. Read the whole book review here.

I was touched by her examples of how we can learn to see things differently and then notice things that we did not see before, come to conclusions that we would not have thought possible before. Living in another culture challenges me to do this. My interest in anthropology certainly helps me, too. It is amazing how we can interpret things differently when when see them through another person’s eyes.

I experienced a similar eye opener through reading one of the conversations between Mack and Sarayu in “The Shack“: (pp 134-136)

“When something happens to you, how do you determine whether it is good or evil?”
Mack thought about it for a moment before answering. “Well, I have not really thought about that. I guess I would say something is good when I like it – when it makes me feel good or gives me a sense of security. Conversely, I’d call something evil that causes me pain or costs me something I want.”
“So it is pretty subjective then?”
“I guess it is.”
“And how confident are you in your ability to discern what indeed is good for you, and what is evil?”
“To be honest,” said Mack, “I tend to sound justifiably angry when somebody is threatening my ‘good,’ you know, what I think I deserve. But I’m not really sure I have any logical ground for deciding what is actually good and evil, except how something or someone affects me.” […] “All seems quite self-serving and self-centered, I suppose. […]”

He hesitated before finishing the thought, but Sarayu interrupted, “Then it is you who determines good and evil. You become the judge. And to make things more confusing, that which you determine to be good will change over time and circumstances. And then beyond that and even worse, there are billions of you each determining what is good and what is evil. So your good and evil clashes with your neighbor’s fights and arguments ensue and even wars break out.”
“I can see now,” confessed Mack, “that I spend most of my time and energy trying to acquire what I have determined to be good, whether it’s financial security or health or retirement or whatever. And I spend a huge amount of energy and worry fearing what I’ve determined to be evil.”
“Wow,” Mack exclaimed, […] “It could mean that …”
Sarayu interrupted his sentence again, “… that in one instance, the good may be the presence of cancer or the loss of income – or even a life.”

Ever since reading this conversation some time ago, I started to look at things differently. What is good and what is bad for me? How often do I judge things from a very subjective perspective? Actually, I can think of a few things in my own life, that I judged to be bad but now start to see that they really might have been part of God’s perfect and loving plan for me. As painful as the situation was, there was good in it. This is not always easy to admit.

[There are other interesting aspects in this conversion that I left out for the moment but hope to address in a future post.]

Have you experienced this kind of learning to see things with new eyes?