Have you ever worked on a project for five years? Of course you have.
We didn’t get to where we are, wherever that is, without putting in the years. So much of what we do is ongoing. ON GOING can be discouraging. Like feeding kids and pets. You feed them and six or seven hours later they want to eat again! So little of what we do is a done deal. I try not to think about it. Oh, you were trying not to think about it and now- ELEPHANT! – you are thinking about it, too. Sorry.
So, about ten-ish years ago I received a proposal for an art show with the word “liturgical” in the title and my experience (Southern Baptist and Bapticostal) led me to believe liturgical was a flow-y dance form with lots of wanna-be ballet moves. I started researching. A google search was followed by books. (By the way, the word liturgy is summed up as “the work of the people.”)
Scot McKnight’s “Praying with the Church: Following Jesus Daily, Hourly, Today” was the first book I read. Before I finished that book, other books were speeding on the way to my house (I tried to buy local, but they were not available so I slipped back into my addiction and ordered off of Amazon.) Phyllis Tickle’s “The Divine Hours Pocket Edition” quickly followed by her “The Divine Hours” volumes 1 through 3 (Prayers for Summertime:, Springtime, Autumn and Winter) and Christmastide: Prayers for Advent Through Epiphany from The Divine Hours.
This was all new to me. As the set prayers and rhythms became more familiar to me they began to remind me of the relationship my heart had with hymns growing up. We would sing hymns again and again and we never labeled them “rote.” Why did we call prepared prayers rote?
I also noticed that having a prayer written out for me was particularly wonderful when life was particularly hard. Instead of praying “oh, God, oh, God, oh, God HELP!” A beautifully constructed prayer keeps the desperation of the moment in perspective.
Life circumstances become part of the larger picture, not the center of it. This changed my art, my approach to painting and my approach to life.
This became the SUBJECT of my abstract paintings.
Five years ago enter a new 9 x 12 spiral bound Strathmore Visual Journal and Bobby Gross’ “Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God.” This book did not offer prayers for the hours of each day, but four short prayers to be used during bible study and a collection of verses for the week. This was more akin to the traditions of my childhood.
The blank art journal needed a subject and the book was right there so I started doodling the verses for the week. I liked how it turned out (God nursing, plugging into heaven) so I challenged myself to doodle and draw through Advent. A single drawing for each week mashing all the verses together into one image. My goal was to keep up my bible study and prayers and have fun.
A couple weeks into the project my illustrator daughter walked past and challenged me to do an entire year. WHAT?! I had not purposefully ever taken on a project that long and intensive. Challenge accepted AND I FINISHED IT! I was thrilled and relieved until Ruth said, “Make it a book.” GASP! Who raised this slave driver! Oh, yeah-me!
The second challenge was harder than the first so here we are in 2015 and, finally, Liturgical Sketches Journal & Coloring Book is available for purchase.
I set up Liturgical Sketches Facebook page where drawings and insights can be shared.
While I am hoping the book will earn a profit, I do post the week’s drawing each Sunday on the Facebook page along with the verses. Anyone is welcome to print off the drawing and go for it. Some weeks have two drawings. I started again but could not keep up with the new drawings, my painting and getting the book out. Each drawing takes 15 to 20 hours including bible study and research and a tiny nib on the Sharpie Pens. (I don’t like rushing God unless I have to!)
I had a grand time with this project. I utilized a mixture of traditional and contemporary images, a little snark and more than a couple of puns. Finding the connection between verse and image is akin to finding Waldo. I do hope that it is a fun project for everyone.
God and I have a decent relationship. I heard a preacher once say, “God is the kindest person I know.” Well, good for you, Graham. My relationship with God includes lots of heavenly eye rolling followed by a divine sigh.
Hey! Not that different from how my kids roll their eyes and groan, “Mommmaaaa!”
You can find “Liturgical Sketches Journal & Coloring Book” here: http://drawneartogod.com/LiturgicalSketchesBook.asp
It is a bible study. It is a journal. It is a puzzle. It is a coloring book. A way to slow down and wait on God and your heart to sync.
A childhood friend (from my neighborhood and Baptist church) is now a monk and he sent me an article saying coloring has the same benefits as meditation. Cool beans!
I know this is a departure from the paintings, but like my paintings, my life is layered and I wanted to share.
I saw a TED talk about polymaths, read an article about polymaths, heard a radio program about polymaths. I Tend towards polymath. Drawing and doodling has always been part of me since my toddler years. Thank you for all your encouragement and support.