My father-in-law has been diagnosed with colon cancer. Our family is doing their best to take care of all the problems coming up before surgery. I will be taking a break from blogging. Thanks for stopping by to check. Your prayers and positive thoughts are truly appreciated.
Christians should be those least threatened of all by new artistic ideas, by experimenta-tion, by taking risks, by looking at and enjoying what the other side has to say. If indeed our feet are solidly rooted on truth itself, we are those who can look the world in the eye with confidence, pleasure, fulfill-ment. - Franky Schaeffer, Addicted to Mediocrity: 20th Century Christians and the Arts.
Experimentation can be scary. I certainly thought so when I was younger and starting out my art career. Experimentation meant I didn't know. It lead to messes and potential disaster. In some areas of my life the fear of experimentation led to a sort of reverse perfectionism. If I couldn't do something perfectly or even well, why even start?
The root of this aversion to experimentation – in art, in life, in meeting God – could be found in my early church experiences as a new believer. I was trained to know. To know scripture (for which I am very grateful), to know about God, to know how to effectively share your faith (any slip ups could send someone straight to hell), to know certain doctrines, to know a particular theology. It was all very cognitive. Any natural leanings I might have had toward a more mystic experience of God were viewed with alarm and dire warnings of emotionalism and being deceived.
Looking back, it's amazing God and I didn't give up on each other. To be honest, I did give up on God for awhile. It would be better expressed to say I gave up on His people and I sort of drifted away from community.
Somewhere along the way, a deep stirring started. No doubt it was stirred by God Himself. I was not going to be satisfied with just knowing about God – I was going to experience Him.
And so, my life of experimentation began. Experimenting in prayer, experimenting in seeing God in every moment, experimenting with books such as Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas to see how other people with different faith walks encountered God.
Now, I'm experimenting in the studio. Today I'm experimenting with a painting process I learned from Julie Quinn (http://www.juliequinnstudio.com/ ). I'm using elements of that process to create works that express fire. Last week I started a couple panels with less than satisfying results. Here's the thing I find interesting. Rather than feeling upset that I'm not getting the results I want, I'm finding the experimentation and discovery are fun.
What a difference a couple of weeks make. Before I took a hiatus from blogging (I hope you enjoy the gallery I created during that time), I wrote a piece about my lack of a place to create. A few days after posting that blog entry, I received a phone message asking if I would be interested in looking at some rental properties for a painting studio.
Why yes, thank you.
Friday found me in a new studio, working on a small piece I call a prayer vessel. I pour prayer into the process as I work and I will keep it in the studio when it is finished. I may possibly put written prayers in it and then at the end of the year see how those prayers were answered. I started this art piece years ago; but, like so many things, I put it aside. As I was moving materials to this new space, I uncovered the project and thought it would be a good way to “get my feet wet” again.
While it wasn't intentional, I started using the studio as Yom Kippur begins. Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. One of the central features of the Friday evening Yom Kippur service is known as the “Yizkor” memorial prayer in which we pray for those who have passed away. My friend Jan passed away exactly a year ago. I was remembering her as I opened my new studio.
One of the things I did to officially kick off this venture was to ask praying friends to stop by throughout the day to consecrate this space. I'm calling it the Donna Kemper Worship Studio – a place to experience God through creativity. I've already experienced His presence as people came to pray and speak blessings over me and over the space.
I've prepared this place and now it's God's responsibility to show up and fill it. I'm looking forward to the partnership. Let the adventure begin!
Promise - Oil on linen - 24" x 30"
True to my word, I have published a gallery of artwork. There are samples of the pastoral series, the vineyard series and portraiture. I have not converted the files of mural work, illustration work nor restoration work. Maybe later. I'm about to embark on a new artistic journey that will be abstract. Once I have a body of work to share, I'll post that as well.
Until then, enjoy!
Donna Kemper put aside her art career to care for a mother she hadn't seen in over a decade. For seven years she followed her mother's journey into dementia, caring for her and putting forgiveness into action.