From Discipline to Delight, Prayer and Fasting

From Discipline to Delight, Prayer and Fasting

From discipline to delight in prayer and fasting, Matthew 6:5-18.

Today I’m sharing my first spontaneous drawing completed using my tablet. I drew this using Autodesk Sketchbook and Photoshop.

I invite you to absorb today’s verses and then allow the art to speak to you as it chooses.

God wants you affection, not your duty. One’s proximity to God is not measured by visible devotion but by their proximity to their neighbor’s need.

For God and Country

Once again, we enter into the home stretch of an election year, bracing for an overload of partisan propaganda and wild rumors of certain Armageddon scenarios if particular candidates are elected. Today opens the ballot boxes for early voting in some states, marking the beginning of the end for this chaos. Looking over the brainstorming notes for future series ideas this summer, a four word phrase coinciding with this season demanded my attention; For God and Country. Despite not having any guarantee this will become a series of messages and drawings, the idea took root and creating this piece became inescapable.

I am a huge Marvel comics fan, Stan Lee’s creations inspired much of my early work. Combine that with enjoying the occasional Colbert Report and the phrase, “God and country” immediately brings Captain America’s shield to mind. The summer’s release of ‘The Avengers’ and resulting influx of Marvel paraphernalia in toys aisles across the country have, once again, defined this symbol as an indisputable icon of heroism and American patriotism.

Exciting as the initial surge of patriotic adrenaline may be, let’s step back and listen for what this piece is saying.

The first panel of this piece is a sheet of plywood with a smooth, finished face. This is the start of creation, smooth and untainted. As the image moves toward you, the first layer is segments of this original material, cut into smaller panels. Subsequent layers mimic this panel appearance, but are constructed of lower-quality OSB board. As the piece progresses toward you, it regresses in material quality. This tainting of the materials represents our working relationship with creation. We take the raw materials God invented for our use and destroy them, then reassemble the fragments into something that mimics the original design in an attempt to make the original better. Often this process of re-creation will benefit society, but the materials I chose are an example of the opposite reaction. The imagery here is God’s original creation and our use of that creation to build life as we know it. Just as the materials lose their quality as they are layered, the more effort we spend elevating ourselves, the more fragile our creation becomes.

The icon of the Captain America shield is what stands out on this piece. Each layer contains the full shape of the shield, covered by the next layer then spray painted back on.  Painting the shield on to the original, smooth panel create the highest quality and most aesthetically pleasing image. As I added the layers of smaller panels and re-applied the shield, the original image lost its crisp quality due to over-spray. We have parts of our original design in sight, we can even discern the full image when we step back and look at the whole picture, but the panels (our efforts to re-define creation) disrupt the image. This distracts us from seeing the big picture, only focusing on a piece or two at one time. As the old adage goes, we can’t see the forest for the trees.

The piece hangs on the wall in an awkward position in relation to the floor. Artwork is normally hung in a position that is perpendicular to the floor. This irregular display will drive some viewers crazy, at least, that is my goal.

The angled display and fuzzy background layers of this piece communicate to most minds that something is off. Many will want to intervene and repair what they see off, to make sense of the image and settle the uneasiness its imperfection creates in their conscience.

Take action to mend what you see broken, redirect what is misguided, cultivate what you find neglected. Be the difference you long to see.

Own your responsibility. 

For God and country.

Jonah 4: Pride

Jonah chapter 4 brings the story back to a place where we see Jonah’s heart and realize his experience has been more about refining his spirit than redeeming Nineveh’s. After Nineveh repents and God aborts destroying the city, instead of celebrating that victory, Jonah’s thirst for vengeance brings him to anger and bitterness. How could God take such horrid, violent people at their word? He should smite them to teach the rest of the world a lesson! This anger reveals the true state of Jonah’s spirit. He is no better than his enemy, he hates what he cannot forget of their past and longs to see it brought back to them ten fold; but that is not how God works.

The image depicts Jonah’s head in much the same ashamed, reluctant position it was in for chapter two’s drawing, after it took three days of exile in the ocean for him to accept his mission to Nineveh. In contrast of chapter 2, the surrounding background is white, cleansed by Nineveh’s repentance. The darkest part of the drawing is the growing cloud within Jonah’s mind, the spirit of bitterness towards Nineveh’s new-found salvation without immediate tangible consequences for their past. What Jonah has yet to realize is this growing attitude is what created Ninevah’s world view, an attitude based on selfishness and pride. Jonah is at a point now, if he does not acknowledge and repent of his own faults, he risks being by the darkness growing in his mind.