A meditation of movement
How does the Spirit dwell and move inside me? Through the medium of abstract expressionist painting, this piece begins as a meditation of movement. When poured into worship what does this movement look like? Is there something that this movement wants to tell me? Wants to tell you?
An exercise in faith
As an artist I have practiced many different mediums, though I have never painted. But deep in my core where the gentle whisper of the soul lives, I feel God wanting to work through me, to paint a prayer.
When the noise of the mind creeps in I can feel like an imposter and start to doubt. I think I’m not qualified, skilled, worthy, or the right person for the job. But as Vincent van Gogh said:
“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
So this piece is as much a public exercise in faith as it is a painting.
A work in progress
Like our new building, this piece is a work in progress. Over the next six weeks a series of paintings will be revealed in the video and build progressively upon the last as an homage to the construction process.
The artistic process
This painting has been one of the most spiritually significant things I’ve done in my life. I view it as an exercise in remaining absolutely present to the gentle whisper of the soul, at all moments, with every stroke. Doing whatever necessary, whatever practice required of me, to remain here–right now–listening. It required me preparing and sharing my entire being.
Painting #1 – Joy and Wonder
Starting from a blank canvas and working to an expressive monochromatic picture of what the Spirit had bottled up inside me. A boyish joy and wonder, enraptured with the act of painting itself. This painting truly showcases the ease at which music moves my body into celebration, into form.
Painting #2 – The Unseen Spiritual Life
This painting is a piling on of more movement. Layer over layer of expression. I was full of excitement to paint this one. When I get alone with God my eyes are often closed and that infinite black void is my place of peace. I view this black painting as a beautiful representation of Spirit movement and the working, toiling, and joy of the unseen spiritual life.
Painting #3 – Restore the Ruins
Knowing from the beginning that each painting was going to be painted over, I had already accepted the death of each but painting over “The Unseen Spiritual Life” was the hardest. I was frustrated and I was fighting to be fully present. I showed up empty and exhausted but I just had to start. I had a preplanned progression of color but from the beginning the strokes did not feel right and I didn’t know what it needed. I had to get the energy out and lamented “WHAT DO YOU WANT!?”. I felt an urge to grab a bright red and slap it on the canvas with a paint stick. Somehow it felt great to ruin the plan. It needed out of the box I created. My frustration with the silence of the voice of God, the emotion of the moment, is what made it onto the canvas. Ultimately, I regard this painting as a disaster. A representation of the messiness of life. Unpleasant to experience, ugly to look at, but full of the reality that life will never go according to plan and we just have to keep pushing. The Whisper said “Keep going, my beauty will be revealed. Just keep going.”
Painting #4 – Reckless Abandonment (The dance of David)
By far, this experience was the most intense. I came into it with an emptiness and a frustration that the last painting didn’t go as planned but also a spirit renewal in knowing that I had found what it was asking for even though I didn’t find it aesthetically pleasing. I knew for this painting I had to, at any cost, get present. The central point of this project. A visual prayer. An intercessory prayer for the heart of our city. A prayer that I was not going to contain. I gave myself over with reckless abandonment into everything the Spirit asked for and Love asks for everything. This prayer led me into an internal and external barring of my entire self in expressiveness, into the act of Art.
Painting #5 – Cody’s Prayer
I came into this painting with a deep resonant peace. A sense of movement was stirring within me. Painting #4 was so much work, emotionally and physically, but with ease I began to paint white over it as City Music’s “Your Kingdom” played in the background. This is the one that I will happily call “Cody’s Prayer”. A temporal moment in time that I wish I could have forever but I had to keep going because the Spirit led me to the final piece.
Painting #6 – Worshiper of Yahweh
A week prior to painting this, we asked a group of people to write a prayer on the walls of the new building and a toddler took a pen and scribbled his prayer. As I was scanning the wall, reflecting afterwards, with tears in my eyes I was magnetized to this child’s drawing. I knelt down and stared at it, knowing there was something there. Knowing that I am going to make something out of this and took a picture of it not knowing what that thing would become.
As I continued praying about this project, I opened up the photo and studied it. I turned it upside down and turned it one way and the other. And on the other, the Cosmos opened up and the Worshiper of Yahwah (Obadiah) presented himself to me. Stoic yet exploding with movement. With wild arms of praise and energy flowing out and in. Organic beautiful strokes that feel earthly and other worldly. A smiling joyful face that encapsulates and completes the body of the worshiper. Layered over the culmination of decades of spiritual journeying, this final piece turns into a spirit directed, two year olds prayer, For Our City.