The objects of my still life were arranged in front of me… colors bright and cheerful in contrast to the neutral, early awakening spring colors outside my window. There were no fresh flowers blooming at this point in the season, so I had settled with pink silk roses arranged in one of my favorite hand-me-down pitchers and added bright green plastic apples spilling across a borrowed teal tablecloth, all from my still life stash.
I fixed my gaze on the composition I had arranged and let my eye roam from object to object. I wanted to make sure there was a path that kept my eye moving across the canvas… no dead ends. Dead ends are not good… in paintings or in life. So, I stared, adjusted, contemplated, and fixed until I had it right. Sometimes, this process takes a while…
When I paint, I try to think of words that help me develop the “essence” or theme of my work. There are times the word comes immediately, giving me direction and expression, and other times the word takes its time through the application of the elements of art… all in process.
As I began developing the sketch on canvas, applying the underpainting and mixing my colors, I let my mind wander to the events and circumstances of life at present. Our lives have become still in so many ways. Life postponed. The words used in the daily news and in conversation sometimes seemed as dark as the darkest value I strategically placed on my canvas. The painted lines of the fabric on my canvas created roads from one thought to another. My still life was progressing, but my “essence” word search was not.
I began to pick up color with my brush to add over the neutral underpainting. I first applied the dark color values and allowed the colors to lead me across the canvas… quiet in some places and seeming to “pop” in others. I loved seeing how the colors brought life to the objects… the teals and greens and blues of the tablecloth, the bright yellow greens of the apples, the many hues of pinks and reds of the flowers. I found myself in awe of the abundance of beautiful, luscious, hope-filled color against the underpainting… bringing to life new thoughts, excitement, and perspective….
And then…. all of a sudden…. the word… ‘Abundance’… ‘Abundance’… yes… (breakthroughs in painting are so exciting!) an abundance of color, life-giving color, against the backdrop of neutrals and dark values. As I worked, making sure every brush stroke had a purpose, my thoughts began to make applications from my canvas to my life.
My paint brush was moving now in a freer way than before. I was finding the “sweet spot” that always alludes itself… until that moment… much like when each musician’s note in an orchestra or each singer’s voice in a choir come together and fit in such a way that it is all meshed together into a composition that reads and breathes life, hope, and understanding.
Yes, there are fears, worries, uncertainties, and challenges in our world.
But… oh my… on my canvas…. in my life… in all our lives… the abundance of color… the abundance of joy… the abundance of assurance “shouts” out loud against the neutrals and dark values of life’s “still life.”
Abundance is there… not because it can be touched, or seen, or felt, as we sometimes believe, but because there is a promise no matter what, a hope no matter how… it’s there, even when the questions shout louder than the answers… because of what has already been done for each of us, no matter who we are, or in what kind of “still life” we find ourselves. Midst all the darkness, confusion, and unanswered queries, there’s a still, small voice…
“I came that they might have life, and that they might have it more ABUNDANTLY.” (John 10:10)
In all the distraction, the pain, the confusion of what we might feel is lost, or stolen, or destroyed at times in life… there is that still, quiet voice… but… we must hear it, access its power, and then color our world with all the possibilities open for our “still life.”
That word… ABUNDANCE… it “pops.”