Thursday, April 25, 2013

In the Art Studio: The Insides of a Heart

heartsong {etsy}

Something strange has been happening at my art table lately.  Strange, but good.

It goes something like this:

I pine for my art-making, miss it deeply.  And then -- surprise!  My sweet son surprises me with the gift of a nap, and I run for the art table.

I sit.  I stand up, procrastinate, sit again.  I shuffle things about.

what is this place? {art journal page}

And then -- I begin.  I dip my brush into paint or water and begin.

It feels awkward.  I paint anyway.

All of a sudden, I am overcome by emotion.  I want to lay my head and heart down against the painting and press my skin, my self, against it and into it.  I want to cry.  I do cry.

I keep painting.

in progress
peace {in progress}

Something special is born on the canvas, something unexpected.  The pieces, they feel raw and tender and bittersweet.

They are, I think, a picture of the insides of my heart.

I don't know how this is happening.  But I am so glad that it is.  It is a gift.  Thank you, God.

you are not too much {etsy}

I try not to hold this gift too tightly, because won't it stop being a gift if I expect it, demand something of it?  I try and hold it as I would a bird, all earth-colored feathers, light and trembling and soft.

I don't know who I'm becoming.  What my art is becoming.  Everything feels broken today and these days.

What is this new thing?

I have no answers, hear no reply.  So I keep painting, when I can, as I can.

after the storm
after the storm {etsy}

What is this new thing?

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Creating Mixed Media Backgrounds with Gel Prints (Video Tutorial)

Gel Plate Tutorial

This week I have a special art treat for you -- a video tutorial!  Yay!  I have been wanting to do a full-on tutorial for a while, and last week finally found some time to share how to make mixed media backgrounds for your art pieces using a gel printing plate.  The first video is the full tutorial, which is about fifteen minutes long, and the second is a quick bonus video without talking.  If you aren't quite sure what I'm talking about, you can learn more about what a gel plate is here, and how to use it here.  Enjoy! 

Would you like to see more video art tutorials?  If so, what topics most intrigue you?

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

When Boston Grieves and Texas Burns

fire - onlookers
photo by Dave Morris via Creative Commons

I woke this morning to a new story of horror and pain.  As I fed my son in our bed, I cried and cried out -- why?  How are we to live in a world where such things happen so often?

And of course there is no answer.

There is no answering for devastating explosions, accidental or cruelly planned.  For lives ended or irrevocably altered in the space of a single breath. 

But when I heard of the fertilizer plant explosion in western Texas, when I imagined what those afflicted and their families and the rescue workers are going through, I got a picture in my head.

And when I say that, please know that I am not saying that God put a picture in my head, that he gave me any sort of vision.  I don't know where it came from -- probably the depths of my own brain.  But this picture, it is true of his heart, I think, and that is very real.

Here is what I saw, and what I felt: God there, in Waco, striding amidst the aftermath, gathering the hurting to himself, large in the chaos.  The integral words are striding and large, for he is an active God and so very, very big -- and caring.

God cares, my friends.  Even when it feels impossible that a kind and loving God could ever exist in the face of so much evil and destruction and pain.  He cares.

He hurts with you, people of Waco.

He hurts with you, people of Boston.

He is with you, and he is for you.  

This is what I know about God.  Take heart, my friends, for he has overcome this world of pain and grief and terrible beauty that somehow exists only in the midst of the unimaginable.

Praying for God's presence to loom large in the hearts of the hurting today and tomorrow and always .  . .

"Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.”

~ Deuteronomy 31:6, NLT

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I Want You to Know

turquoise notebook

Someone asked me today,

What is it that keeps you up at night? What could you talk about every single day for the rest of your life? 

My first thought was -- myself.  

And the next thought -- I need to shut this narcissistic blog down, if that's what's at the heart of it all. Immediately.  No one needs to read my self-centered tripe.


Then my brain wheels got to clicking and I realized that, while I do write largely about myself here, that's not what drives me.

Because if all I wanted to talk about was myself, there would be a lot more whining.  Trust me, people.  A lot more.  I am a champion whiner.

But there's not really a whole lot of whine going on around here.  Vulnerability?  Raw truths?  Yes, and yes.

And I begin to realize, perhaps for the first time with my conscious mind, what it is that keeps me up at night, that runs electric through my veins and begs to be told.

It is a story of redemption that I'm telling here.  My story, yes, but also yours.  Redemption for all of us.

I write because I want you to know some things.  To know that there's more for you than the pain and grief and disappointment and depression and illness and accidents that you've been dealt.  To know that there's more for you than the hell that you may find yourself living in.

To know that you are more than your mistakes, more than the slurs and compliments that you've been handed.

To know that you have a voice, that you have a story, and that the telling of it has the power to heal both your heart and others'.

To know that you have great value, both on this earth and in God's heart bleeding out mercy and extravagant, embarrassing love for you.  To know that you are intrinsically lovely in a way that has nothing to do with your waist or accomplishments or awards.

To know that healing is possible.  That healing is coming, to you.  That it may even be on its way right now.  

I have walked in darkness, and hope survives.  I want that for you, also, my friends.  For all the world.

And so I write.  So I loose words on the page and paint upon canvas and pray that God would guide and use and breathe Life into it for us all.

And you, friends?  What could you talk about every single day of your life and have it never grow stale?

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Exciting things have been happening in my art studio -- out of nowhere, energy and time have emerged.  And from that, new paints have been born.  Pieces that are, I think, a picture of the inside of my heart.  They are available as prints in the shop.  It is a blessing to be able to share them with you:

After the Storm 4x6 watermark Heartsong watermark

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What I Mean When I Say, “My Daughter Was Stillborn”

I don’t think that most people understand me when I say that my daughter was stillborn.

That phrasing makes it sound passive, like it was something that just happened to me, externally.

 But that’s not what a stillbirth is, and I imagine that’s not what a miscarriage is either.

A stillbirth isn’t something that happened to me, or my daughter, or my family.

It’s something that happened inside me. That I was forced to participate in . . . .

Today I am writing over at Still Standing Magazine!  

Friday, April 12, 2013

In Which I Tremble and Tell the Truth


You know those times when everything is a battle that you've got no energy left to fight, and the little things are what threaten to push you over the edge?

That's where I'm living these days.

For the past two weeks, our sweet son has not slept more than a [small] handful of hours a night, with a few exceptions.  He is tired, and I am tired.

And then silly things happen, like this blog post disappearing after it was half written, and I just want to throw myself a nice little temper tantrum.

Let's just say that I'm learning how to let go.

And it's hard.  But good, and so needed.

Because I don't want my son to remember a mama who shamed him for spurting most of his newly introduced solid foods all over the kitchen and his high chair and himself.  Who was quick to snap a snarky comeback, or heap criticism upon criticism.

I want him to remember love.  I want him to remember a beautiful mess embraced.  I want him to remember his mistakes released and discipline that is fair and wise instead of destructive and demeaning.  I want him to remember the sanctity of his skin respected and the contents of his mind validated and grace upon grace upon grace.

Because that is what is right, and what he has a right to.  Because that is what preserves dignity and identity and a sense of self-worth.  Because that is what my True Parent has given me. 

And because I know what it feels like to live after twenty years of you are not good enough, you are bad, you are wrong messages, both spoken and implied.  Of the sacrificing of my fragile heart and God-made self at the altars of control and saving face.  Of the blows that I was told were tough love, deserved spankings, blows that were anything but. 

That photo is wrong.  I am not empty.  I am exhausted, yes, but not empty.  I am full -- of purpose, of determination to write a better story for my son than the one I lived.  Of trust that God will mend the gaps that I leave in my son's heart (may they be few and small).  Of hope that maybe He is sewing up the jagged wounds of my heart, too, stitch by stitch.

This is my truth, and my tired heart begs the telling of it.  And so I do.  Perhaps fatigue has made me brave.

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Today Jennifer over at Studio JRU is giving away one of my art prints (winner's choice) AND a copy of my artistic healing workbook, Life After Eating Disorder.  Enter here!
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