Today’s guest post comes from Shanda Scherdin, a sister in Nashville, TN. She has her own beautiful blog called Over the Brim, and we strongly encourage you to check it out. Thanks, Shanda!
“Expect God evenly in all things.” – Meister Eckhart
When I was a little girl, I often talked about being an artist when I grew up. I dreamed of rooms filled with every color of paper, paint, and pencil known to man. I was in love with ALL the colors and I constantly filled sheets of paper with rainbows or patterns in rainbow colors. At a young age, I had the opportunity to learn how to oil paint. I stuck with it for a few important years, but eventually I set it aside. I knew I would return to it one day, and I finally have.
There’s not an area of our lives that God doesn’t touch, care for, and want to dwell in with us. I’ve learned this truth over and over again as the Lord works it out deep within me, so as I felt drawn back into creating art, I knew it would be a place of fellowship with Jesus and expression of His Life in me. He is The Creator, and the author of creativity. My creativity is really just a little tiny portion of His.
I pay a lot of attention to the sky. I’m always in awe of its constantly changing nature. Clouds are not rushed, but they are never still. Storms bring glorious colors and textures. Sunrises and sunsets are filled with hope and promise and a beauty that will never grow old. I knew I wanted to explore these things in paintings.
I decided to begin my re-entry into art by exploring some abstract skies and then an idea came to me: “Sister skies.” My first 30 paintings would be little tiny skyscapes, inspired by my sisters in the Lord. I would spend some time beholding Christ in a sister, thinking about how His life is expressed through them. Colors would come to mind that felt like the person felt to me and I would simply begin to explore with a paint brush. As I painted, the Lord would show me things about that sister: her gentleness, her welcoming spirit, her endurance, her patience, her depth… I learned to love them with His love and see them with His eyes.
I really had no idea what I was doing. I’d never painted this way before. I had learned to paint more realistically, from a photograph. Jesus and my sisters helped me to discover my new artistic voice. Looking back at those first paintings now, a year and some months later, there are many things I would do differently (with a bit more clarity of vision and skill), but it’s not really about that. It’s about the process, the experience, the growth, and the embracing of a moment.
I experience the Lord as I thin down paints and smear those first strokes on a raw white canvas. I think about newness andpotential and simple beauty. As I build up layers and textures and colors, lots of colors, the Lord reminds me of his depth and riches and fullness and vastness.
With almost every painting there is a moment, or several, in which I feel certain I’ve ruined everything and that I should just throw in the towel. But slowly, sometimes quickly, the Lord draws me out of myself and further into the process. I remember that mistakes and unexpected directions are a part of discovering truth and beauty. I recognize that it is possible the painting will, in fact, be horrible and that’s actually fine, and not a waste. It also may turn out beautifully, and surprising. So I dig for the treasure. I paint and I wipe off paint and I add more and I sit and stare and wonder… I decide to smooth out some rough spots because the Lord does that in me, slowly and patiently and in the proper time. I decide to leave some of those rough spots and raw brush strokes because they are evidence of me, and true to my real unfinished life. I think about how every artist leaves their mark. I think about Christ’s mark – everywhere.
I love the endless potential of what paint can do. It points me to Jesus. I love that every color appears differently, depending on what colors it is placed next to. It reminds me of The Body.
I know the desire to create is one He placed in me. I know it pleases Him when I take time to enjoy Him in it.
You may know nothing about oil paints and you may not care to, but I guarantee that in some form or fashion the Lord has placed a piece of His creativity in you. Maybe it’s sewing, gardening, writing short stories or poems, playing soccer, writing software, taking photos, or building swing-sets. Whatever it is, expect to meet Him in it. He is in all things, after all. He is Creativity, and He has placed those desires and skills in you to enjoy with Him.
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