Thursday, October 14, 2010

What is "Real?"

I am crazy, head-over-heals in love with sculpting.  It's absolutely, by far, my most favorite medium to work in.  I have a love/hate relationship with drawing and painting.  There aren't many days that I feel I can accurately convey or portray all that is in my mind on paper or canvas, but clay is altogether different. When I'm working in 3-D it's almost as if I can create something more real, more believable. 

So far I'm quite happy with the way this piece is turning out.  This figurine is about as tall as an espresso cup and lightly textured.  Rather than glazing after the bisque firing I'll either use a stain or watercolor to enhance his features.

Are you familiar with the story of The Velveteen Rabbit who wanted more than anything to be real?  Maybe today is a good day to reread the story and share the message with someone in your life who's needing to feel real, to be loved.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Debts & Debtors

While we were hiking in Idaho a few weeks ago a butterfly landed on the trail before us.  After about 5 tries to get a picture of the butterfly with wings down (which wouldn't have been a problem except that I was holding up everyone else on the trail), I finally got a decent photo to use as a reference.  I painted this butterfly in watercolor and covered it with a glossy varnish, cut it out and painted two small pieces of wire with black acrylics after adding a drop of glue to the end of each for antennae.  The "stick" is a rolled piece of paper from a magazine.  The background will be this 19th c. encyclopedia page with the top reference being Debtors-Debts.  I plan to add some leaves painted in watercolor and varnished and maybe a bit of sand or... ?  The reason or theme behind this mixed medial collage will be Environment/Creation and our responsibility to it care for it. 

Politics and politicians irritate me.  Political polarization irritates me, especially when Christians are involved.  Liberals claim to believe in the concept of the need for maximum individual freedom.  Seriously?  How on earth does that work when a liberal government wants to take over everything?  Hello?  Big government = less freedom.  And how is it that this "freedom" just seems to be more and more about being free from anything moral?  My liberal Christian friends- freedom from morality isn't freedom at all.  Regardless of any other name you give it, sin is still sin.  And Christian Conservatives... what exactly are you conserving?  Conserve and preserve our resources as well as your morals!  Your actions affect everyone around you.  Stop wasting resources!  That's immoral!  Stop trashing the world.  If Jesus tarries I don't want my great-grandkids living in a garbage heap with few natural resources left.  Be responsible.  Some people are environmentalists because they believe our earth is suffering from global warming or climate change.  I'm not one of them.  I'm an environmentalist because I believe Christians should be good stewards.  We're all related, all interconnected.  Our survival is dependent upon this habitat- that we all share. 

Okay. *sigh*  Is anyone still there?  I hope I haven't offended and alienated everyone.  Tomorrow's blog will be full of happy, cute and cuddly things. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Making and Breaking Bread

A few weeks ago I decided it was time to brush up on my bread-making skills.  It had been more than a decade (a reminder of my advancing age...sobering) since I had made fresh bread.  Disappointingly, I couldn't find my favorite recipe which calls for several different grains including rye, barley, and oat as well as molasses for sweetener.  If I happen upon it again I'll be sure to post the recipe and mouth-watering pictures.  The recipe I used this time was a run-of-the-mill whole wheat.  Just the same, I don't think anything smells as good as fresh bread.  It's almost worth the work to have that aroma linger for a day or two.  (Remember those scratch-n-sniff stickers?  Too bad you can't do that with a computer monitor...)

The 24th chapter of Luke is full of incredible accounts of people seeing Jesus after His resurrection, but what I find most amazing are the verses that involve food.  The two on the road to Emmaus are clueless as to the identity of their newest companion as they walk 7 miles with Him.  It isn't until He breaks bread and blesses it that they figure out it's Jesus.  Again, as He appears to the eleven where they are gathered in Jerusalem, He shows them His hands and feet and tells them to look Him over from head to toe.  His true identity still didn't register with them until He asked for food and ate it.

What is it about the food?  Was it the way He blessed it?  The way He ate?  The fact that He used food and wine to institute and commemorate Communion surely can't be overlooked. 

Food is the one thing that we all have in common and we partake of daily.  We may not like the same kind of foods but we all have to eat.  It's a bonding ritual.  An opportunity to share something.  A space, a time, an experience, a conversation.  Seems to me there may be something almost spiritual about eating with someone else...  Time for lunch. :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Confessions of a Fanatical Trekkie

Okay, maybe not fanatical.  I don't get home and dress up like a Klingon or Bejoran every evening and I absolutely wouldn't have agreed to a Betazoid wedding. Uh uh, no way, not on your life.  But I do love Star Trek: TNG, Voyager, DS9, Enterprise, the movies, you name it.  I spent several days visiting and revisiting Star Trek Experience that once graced the Las Vegas Hilton.  I just couldn't get enough.  What's more captivating than a huge model of the Enterprise hanging above Quark's Bar where one could order such items as a "Warp Core Breach" or more surprising than bumping into a live Klingon or Borg drone?  Doesn't get much better than that!  Not to mention the Star Trek Museum replete with time-line and original costumes and props!  (Last I had heard, most of these items were sold in an auction at Christy's.)

And so, my creativity was unleashed yesterday, awash with such admiration for Gene Roddenberry's genius and one of the best Star Trek characters of all time.  Live long and prosper.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Image & Belonging

In order to keep pushing myself creatively I'm taking a sculpting class at the university this quarter.  Sculpting grants me an opportunity to try my hand and creativity in a new dimension (but I suppose that's obvious).  Our assignment was to make 3 separate busts, each with exaggerated characteristics.  I didn't really have anyone in mind when creating this guy.  He seems to be a cross between Teddy Roosevelt, Colonel Sanders and Santa Claus who's done really well on the South Beach Diet.  I have a some ideas for the next two busts but I'll keep you in suspense until tomorrow.

Devotions took me through the final two chapters in Esther and Luke 19, today.  You'll be happy to know the Jews overcame their enemies who sought to kill them (Esther 9-10) and dedicated a day of rest and festivities; Purim (, which is still celebrated yearly.  Chapter 19 in the book of Luke begins with the somewhat infamous Zacchaeus.  I'm guessing his name was probably one people attached nasty adjectives to.  I had a tough time just reading the story without getting distracted and singing the song I learned about "Wee Little" Zacchaeus in Sunday School.  What I found that both of these stories had in common were image and belonging.  Esther and her people belonged to God and had His favor.  Because the king exalted Mordicai to such a high place in his kingdom, Mordicai's image and that of his people, was restored.  Jesus said of Zacchaeus, "he, too, is a son of Abraham."  Zacchaeus was detested as a tax collector but Jesus gave him belonging, as a son of Abraham (this ancestral descent was essential to a Jew), and restored his image.  Why are image and belonging important?

People will do anything to belong.  If they don't find acceptance and belonging at home they'll look elsewhere. A young girl will give herself to a guy to belong, to be loved.  Children and young adults will join gangs to belong and have an "image" that others fear.  A husband or wife might have an extramarital affair with someone who "accepts" them more than their spouse seems to. Hollywood tells us image is everything...unfortunately, the image they portray as everything betrays and perverts all that God desires our images to reflect.  

I read an amazing blog this morning- about acceptance, belonging, and image.  How we treat our children and others will affect their personal image, sometimes for life. I hope you'll take the time to read it, too.
Praying that God will speak to your heart today, letting you know He loves and accepts you, is recreating you into His image, and lets you know, without a doubt, you belong.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Simple" Things That Are and Aren't

As mentioned in my last blog, I've spent the last few weeks working on projects for WWU's Campus Ministries.  This week is Week of Worship and the theme is "Simple 'cos Life Isn't."  (Isn't that the truth!)  I painted these panels on 4x6 wooden sheets with regular latex house paint. 

As a few of my readers may know, I suffer from a severe hearing loss.  Maybe "suffer" isn't always the word that would best describe it, but there are days the emotional stress I go through feels like suffering.  Some days I'm angry about it... other days I have pity parties and cry.  I miss out on more than 75% of what people are saying directly to me in most situations (unless I'm out of doors where it's completely quiet, or in a room where there are no other auditory distractions).  I hear some people better than others such as adults with lower voices that speak and enunciate clearly.  Understanding what children say to me, on the other hand, is just about out of the question - which is extremely unfortunate because I miss working with children.  Any music played above the "G" above middle "C" is gone.  It's as though it doesn't exist to me.  It wasn't always this way.  I played the flute in junior high.  Now I can't hear it.

Simple things that most people take for granted, such as having a conversation on the phone, aren't simple for me.  They're downright impossible. Going through a checkout line in a store (WalMart, with its overhead blowers, is the worst) is frustrating and embarrassing.  I always hope the cashier won't say anything to me because who knows if I'll respond correctly.

My devotions this morning led me part way through the book of Esther, and the 18th chapter of the book of Luke.  I noticed the running theme was "mercy."  The sinner praying in the Temple (Luke 18:13,14), the blind man on the outskirts of Jericho (Luke 18:35-43), and Esther (who experienced mercy- both from her king and through the divine deliverance of her people).  Mercy: divine tenderness (as a mother would comfort her hurting child), compassion (God becoming a man to experience our sorrows with us), reconciliation (God doing everything possible to meet us where we are, to shower us with His acceptance and grace and to restore us in every way to what He created us to be).

In spite of my physical, spiritual and emotional shortcomings, God has shown me mercy, as well.  Though I'm losing my hearing at a rapid rate, He has blessed me with the gift of sight and the love of visual arts.  I may not be able to hear the soprano in an opera or the piccolos and flutes in Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor, but God has created a visual symphony of beauty that speaks in tones and volumes I can understand.  He has granted that I may see better than I hear, and that my sight is keener than it might be if my hearing were not failing.  God's grace is sufficient and His mercy says, in quite simple terms, "I love you, Caprice."