Joyful Dancers

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In my living room, I have a large canvas of African dancers. I call the painting, “Joy.” This painting in my living room encourages me every single day. It reminds me to ponder all my blessings, and the one true God who gives those blessings. I can so easily get sidetracked by my daily concerns, my cancer, my oxygen tubing and its limitations, and so many other little details of my life. Then, there hangs that painting, preaching a sermon of encouragement to my anxious heart. I find myself letting go of my cares as I soak in the colors and movement.

Raise your voices;
make a beautiful noise to the Eternal, all the earth.
Serve the Eternal gladly;
enter into His presence singing songs of joy!
Know this: the Eternal One Himself is the True God.
He is the One who made us;
we have not made ourselves;
we are His people, like sheep grazing in His fields.
Go through His gates, giving thanks;
walk through His courts, giving praise.
Offer Him your gratitude and praise His holy name.
Because the Eternal is good,
His loyal love and mercy will never end,
and His truth will last throughout all generations. Psalm 100, The Voice version.

How did the painting come about? Well, when I was in Cameroon helping women to share their stories using art, as the stories were being told and each woman received prayer, the Cameroonian women would break out in joyful singing and dancing. It was an amazing experience to be a part of, and my soul still “sings” when I think of those days of joy. I came home and painted this painting!

So, when I feel down about fighting stage four cancer, when I ache all over and struggle to feed myself, huffing and puffing from the effort, I remember the joy of those women through my painting. I reach out for that joy.  And, I offer God praise for His goodness and mercy in my life. It might be just a moment in my day. However, there it is – a bit of redemption right at that moment, and God is glorified.

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Saving The Light

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My latest set of museum quality prints have been made from my original, watercolor and wax resist painting. They just arrived from my printer in Seattle. My printer, Carl at Color1Photo, makes giclee reproductions using inks rather than water-based materials, on German etching paper. The prints just sing with color very true to my original work. I slept for 4 days while the prints were made and delivered.

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The watercolor, wax resist process is tricky, and the process has taught me a life lesson. Hot wax is painted on areas of delicate rice paper, where one does not want any further paint to be laid down. So, if you want white or light-filled areas, you have to protect them by coating them with the hot wax. The wax cools quickly, those areas are protected, and further layers of color are then painted on the rice paper. I have to remember where I want light, and cover it with the wax.

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The light on pottery vases, on windows, and on the freshly hung wash, is eventually revealed when the cooled wax is ironed away. In the end, the piece of art has to be ironed repeatedly between pieces of newsprint so the wax is removed from the rice paper. At last, after much ironing, the light is seen in stark contrast to the darks that were laid down after the lights.

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And what is my lesson? Well, I am in the biggest fight for my life with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. It looks grim, dark, colorless, and gray on many of my days. I have little strength. However, I have life and light in my heart, soul and mind that I don’t want stolen by the darks. What is my “hot wax” I use to protect the light in my life? I “protect” or save that light by carefully remembering goodness, beauty and where my hope is in my life. I keep the dark layers from covering the lights through prayer, making beautiful art, listening to restorative music, receiving get well cards, talking with friends and family who love me, making myself see “grace sightings” or good that happens THAT day and being thankful, and by reading God’s light-filled words of truth and hope, even on the darkest days. I save the light. And, really, the light saves me.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

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Here are a couple of pages from my art journal. On the right, you can see the scene, in Lucca, Italia, from which my painting is derived.