It’s all about love

Well, this month had the official day in the calendar to be thinking about love, so I have been doing just that.

I have a bit of a ‘heart’ thing. I’ve a LOT of heart shaped objects in my house….. I’m sure I’m not the only one. I like the many things they symbolize about the importance of love and what is going on in the deep places of who we are. Love for family and friends, strangers and places. To know love, to feel it, and to act upon it when we don’t feel like it at all. This really is my favourite never ending theme, so no doubt it’ll reoccur in other posts…

Just a few of my vast collection!

People have asked me if I paint to feel good or whether I am in a good frame of mind first. Generally it’s the latter but I distinctly remember one time many years ago when I painted from a place of anger and frustration. Let me explain.

I had a dream of a heart shaped raging fire. There was immense energy behind it,  full of living colour and powerfully raging… but most beautiful and loving at the same time. When I awoke I sketched it in my notebook.

A week or so later I found myself in a situation that made me extremely frustrated. I wanted to help a couple financially but wasn’t in a position to be able to. So I decided to start painting and sell the work, giving them the proceeds. (Actually, this was the start of my journey of producing more paintings and getting work ‘out there’.)  I couldn’t afford to buy more canvases but I could start by painting over a couple old ones.  I decided to paint that raging heart I’d seen in my dream.  Energetically I slapped the paint on with a large brush, not taking much notice of what I was doing,  just letting my frustrated thoughts come out. When I’d finally exhausted myself I looked at what I’d done.

Peace and Reassurance

How could this happen… I’d produced a painting that looked the complete opposite of how I’d felt! It looked as if it had been calmly and gently created. I could see love staring back at me in the form of peace and reassurance and it deeply ministered to my heart.

From this peace filled place I proceeded to go ahead and paint the picture I’d originally intended from my dream. (And a friend generously donated some money for materials so I could follow through with producing more paintings!)

Raging Love

Love shows itself in different forms. Sometimes love is raging and burns within us, a furious love if you like. Much emotion is attached. For example, it cries out at injustice and can be a powerful force that moves us to action.

Love is barely recognisable until it’s communicated with actions as well as words.

There is also love that doesn’t depend on emotions and feelings to be active. Let me share some of the story behind another painting.

In my mind’s eye I saw a picture of a heart shaped pebble dropping into water with ripples coming out which were also heart shaped. Although this wouldn’t actually happen in real life, this is what I saw. The image was rich with symbolism. It spoke of the importance of what is going on in the centre of who we are. How we can get busy doing things out there in one of the ripples but actually, what’s going on in the heart is the true source effecting the shapes coming out. Motives come from our centre. We can’t see everything that goes on in our heart but it is an important place that can be hurt and calloused due to life experiences. So this is also the place where inner healing and transformation occur.

Agapé – Selfless Love

I called this painting Agapé, a Greek word meaning selfless love. The Greek language is much richer than ours and has a variety of words describing different types of love. Agapé is the highest form of love, not determined by feelings but rather, a determined act of the will. It is unconditional and self-sacrificing, giving out like the ripples. It is the word used in the scriptures to describe the very nature of God Himself, who is love, not just who loves. The God of the bible most clearly demonstrated this love through his son Jesus dying on the cross for all mankind.

Agapé can of course also involve our feelings and emotions but it isn’t dependent on them to be active –  it is motivated by purer love.  An act of will motivated by anything other than love at it’s source however, understandably makes it less sustainable in the longer term, leaving one prone to disappointment and burnout. Personally speaking I’m very aware I continually need more agapé love filling my heart!!!

Whilst I tend to title my paintings and have my own story with them, I am of course aware that the image isn’t limited to where my thoughts started. In a sense, as soon as someone else sees the work it’s given away for the viewer to engage in their own way.

And that’s exactly what I’d like to do – give it away.

So if you’d like to receive a free print of this painting (31cm x 41cm) just comment below with the words Agapé – selfless love. You needn’t say anything else but of course it would be great to hear some of your own comments if you wish.  At the end of next week on Saturday 7th March I will randomly select someone, contact you for your address and post it out.

I look forward to hearing from you.  Be blessed and go live out the love – the ripple effects are far reaching. 🙂

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Freedom to Be

I’ve been thinking about ‘freedom’ as I ponder the year before me. Hopes and expectations whirl around at this time of year. Which ones will be welcome travel companions? Am I merely continuing with habitual expectations of myself… and other people’s expectations of me. I notice the ease at which I could slip into a familiar place I don’t necessarily want to be. So I am pausing and listening rather than racing on. I must confess, I was surprised to find this more of a challenge than first anticipated!

It can take quite a lot of effort to be free.

Freedom comes with a willingness to look, a realization, a choice and subsequent choices as a result. Being outside helps me to think. When I go for a walk and look at the natural world around me I’m able to get a clearer perspective as I’m reminded of the bigger picture. I love to look out across the sea and appreciate the ‘ahhh’ moment that comes with the beauty of the light on the water. This breathes a freedom into my soul.

Freedom Blue

I recently listened to a speaker who travelled down from Manchester. He was struck by this beautiful coastal city and said how wonderful it was to see a horizon line. It dawned on him that he doesn’t see one at all in the inner city where he lives!

Metaphorically speaking, it does us good to look out across the horizon. Deciding to get away from what’s built up around us, reminding ourselves there is more. Busyness, habit and familiarity all play their part in influencing how we see and make choices. I have found this to be a good time of year for checking up on what is motivating my thoughts and actions, and think about whether I need to make a few adjustments. How about you?

Freedom to Be

I’m very fortunate to live in an area where I can appreciate the rolling hills of the Westcountry as well as the coast. I like it when I see the trees silhouetted against a vast sky. With this painting ‘Freedom to Be’ I was drawn to the way one tree seemed to stick up differently from the others around it. No oughts or blending. Almost defiantly being itself, against a backdrop of glory celebrating it’s uniqueness. I like that!

So as you venture out into the year ahead, may you also listen to the whisperings of your soul and enter more fully into the freedom of being yourself, taking time to do the things that make you come alive. Heaven and earth are cheering you on as you travel with hope and authenticity.

Whisperings

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” –  Nelson Mandela

The Ultimate Gift

Well here we are, Christmas Eve already – where did the time go? This is such a special, albeit busy time of year. Choosing gifts for family and friends to demonstrate a small token of our love for them. I do love Christmas but it also stirs up a mixture of emotions for me, having tragically lost both of my parents a number of years ago. I’m sad that they’ve missed out on my children’s lives and wonder what they would have thought of them. We just never know what’s around the corner do we, as life is full of such joy and sorrow. It’s good to be thankful for the friends and family we have, choosing to see the best not the lack when our emotions are challenged in this area for what ever reason! The greatest gift we can give and receive really is the gift of love, rather than stuff. And don’t get me wrong I thoroughly enjoy stuff too, but it’s the relationship and love behind it that lasts isn’t it…

So as I sit here with my cuppa, reflecting on all the recent Christmas activities and remind myself what it’s reeeally all about tomorrow, it seemed apt to share some of the thoughts behind this sculpture I made called ‘The Gift’.

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’  John 3:16

When thinking about this very well known verse I wanted to create the Christ child, through the eyes of a mother especially, as well as through the powerful message communicated in this scripture. The possibility of carrying a baby connects women in a unique way, spanning time and culture. I wondered what was in the Mother Mary’s mind when she knew she would be giving birth to the Son of God! She would have known this child was born for a purpose beyond her understanding. But for now, she was gifted with this precious baby that needed her. The more I entered into this thought, the more powerful the message of love became.

I depicted Christ in this vulnerable pose which isn’t usually associated with images of Him. This was to evoke emotions of love, care and protection in us whatever our gender and whether or not we have children. The slow process of creating the sculpture was loving and tender, which I hope comes across in the final piece.

The sculpture portrays the gift of new life and death at the same time, hence the gift tag poignantly tied around the toe symbolic of a mortuary tag.

Whilst making this, I was struck by the immense love I have for my own two children. I was aware that only a greater love than this, could be the motivation for intentionally creating a perfect baby who would grow up to be a man willing to die in exchange for my imperfect life. But why? So God could have a relationship with us now and forever.

I would think it wasn’t worth it… but His love for us all says it was.

That’s outrageous love!

I will leave you with the link to this fabulous version of the touching Christmas song ‘Mary did you know’ sung by Pentatonix. It’s well worth a listen and beautifully portrays the message of this amazing Gift.

Be blessed and have a wonderful Christmas. x

 

 

 

‘Redeemed Vessels’ – Transforming what might be discarded…

These vessels are slowly and lovingly created from recycled paper, before being transformed with texture, ethereal painted surfaces, script and gold leaf.

‘Let your light shine into all the world’

The Japanese have an old tradition of mending broken pottery with gold. I’ve sought to personify this tradition as part of the inspiration for the theme ‘Redeemed Vessels’.

The gold is actually stronger and of higher value than the pottery itself, so I’d say the final piece has become all the more precious on every level because of the mending. What might have been discarded, has instead had care and attention poured into it whilst being uniquely transformed and made whole – a new creation in fact. I like the reminder that a precious strength and beauty can come out of the broken places in our lives. Each of us carry rich experiences of joy and sorrow, and allowing our true selves to be seen as well as sharing the restorative journey, reveals an authentic shining glory we can all connect with.

I often use gold in my work representing the presence of God’s Love, so I’m really flowing with this theme as I’ve received so much inner healing and transformation in my own life. I think it’s amazing that nothing in our lives is wasted when put into the Creator’s hands… then we truly are redeemed vessels!

‘We hold great treasure in brokenness’

‘Strength and beauty in the broken places’