Peace on Earth isn’t just for Christmas

“Peace on Earth”…no, I’m not starting to sing Christmas songs already. I’m a strict “not until after Thanksgiving” kind of girl. But in light of recent events there has been a lot of clamoring for peace.

America seems more and more divided lately – republicans vs. democrats, trump supporters vs. never trumpers, black vs. white, standers vs. kneelers. There seems to be no end to the disunity that clutters my newsfeed. Is there no peace to be found?

I want to introduce (or perhaps reacquaint) you with an artist who is famous for his depictions both of war and of peace.

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Peace and War

Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain in 1881. His father was an artist, who happened to like painting pigeons or doves. Picasso’s early paintings were not necessarily political in nature, and he gained quite a following rather quickly. He is frequently referred to as the father of cubism.

Picasso’s approach to art began to change radically in 1937, when he painted one of his most famous paintings:

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“Guernica,” by Pablo Picasso. (1937)

This painting was in direct response to the Italian and German carpet bombing of the Spanish city of Guernica. Picasso began to see his art as more than just a unique decoration. He had a message and wasn’t afraid to speak it through his art.

“What do you think an artist is? …he is a political being, constantly aware of the heart breaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.” Picasso

Guernica came to symbolize the abject horrors of war and was used as a rallying cry for the Peace Movement of the 1940s. Picasso himself became an active participant in the movement and in speaking out against totalitarian regimes.

Peace and Picasso

In 1949, Picasso painted another watershed work.

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“La Colombe” (The Dove) by Picasso, 1949

Entitled simply “La Calombe” (the Dove), the lithograph was featured on posters celebrating the Paris Peace Conference. Picasso’s daughter was born that same year and he gave her the name Paloma, which is the Spanish word for dove. She is in her father’s arms in the family photograph above.

Since then, Picasso’s dove has been modified numerous times and used as personification of peace.

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Lasting Peace

For centuries, many different cultures have used a dove to symbolize peace.  Art and images have great power to shape the way in which we think. Sadly, true and lasting peace will require more than a lovely painting, a change in one’s profile picture, or a serene bird.

The Scriptures speak of a King who is coming who will “speak peace to the nations”. At His very birth, the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” His peace did not come with political unity, but with His brutal death in the place of sinners.

There is a day coming when wars and divisions will cease. There is a time approaching when reports of mass shootings and natural disasters will not grace the news headlines. True peace will reign when our Prince of Peace returns. And oh what a glorious day that will be:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,

and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.

And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,

the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,

the Spirit of counsel and might,

the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,

or decide disputes by what his ears hear,

but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,

and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;

and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,

and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,

and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,

and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,

and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;

and a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze;

their young shall lie down together;

and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,

and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.

They shall not hurt or destroy

in all my holy mountain;

for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD

as the waters cover the sea.

Amen. Come and bring your peace, Lord Jesus.

 

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Who is this mystery man?

Who is this mystery man? I don’t know who he is, I don’t know where he lives, I don’t know his name. But I do know where he came from.

Well let’s just say this, I know where his photo came from.

Late last year, I decided to try to attempt a new medium: oil. I was not terribly pleased with my first oil portrait, which is why you are not seeing it here! But I discovered that I learned a lot.

You see, I am “about” learning. I think learning is incredibly healthy, it develops a vibrancy of the soul and heart. I believe learning incorporates so much more than the mind. For me, learning involves the passionate pursuit of something new, exciting, interesting.

Learning develops courage muscles! Which is why I chose this mystery man’s photograph for my second oil portrait.

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I chose to paint him because his eyes, the shadows, the light on his face–all three of these components intrigued me.

I am constantly amazed at what attracts people to a work of art. Is it the subject–landscape, still life, portraits, interiors, architectural buildings? Maybe the color–mauve, patriot blue, lime green, gorgeous orange? Is it the technique or medium–watercolor, thick, chunky palette knife, acrylic abstract splashes?

I find that sometimes what attracts me to paint something is not what attracts the viewer. Though this is not always the case.

Much to my surprise, this man’s face drew lots of comments!! Everything from, “I love his eyes,” to “he’s just too intense for me,” or “he’s a handsome man,” and even “I don’t like him at all!” Oh dear, I had no idea the range of responses I would get! I just wanted to challenge myself, and I did!

The eyes were tough as you can see in the next picture.

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The nose was tough, and as an added bonus, the beard was a challenge too! What a painting experience he turned out to be. At least in painting, you don’t really discover how much you’ve learned until you’ve started a new painting, or completed it.

Since I didn’t know this man’s name (I got his photo off a free photo site that allows you to paint what’s posted.) I called him “Harry”. Do not ask me why, he looked like a “Harry” to me; and I couldn’t really keep calling him “Mystery Man”. However, if anyone recognizes this gentleman and does know his name, I’d love to see what he thinks of my painting!

Here is the finished portrait, my second one in oil. I hope I conveyed the essence of what I see in him. Harry is one of a kind and so are you!

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We are exceptionally unique and designed in the Creator’s image. Therefore the Creator God must be ever so fascinating as He has so many facets. “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 129:14 ESV Never forget how special you are to Him and remember you are one of His works!

Please send me your comments and thoughts on my no longer a mystery man, “Harry”!

 

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Small but Memorable

Art museums may not be high on your list of places to visit with small children. I can understand that. We’ve heard an annoyed “shhhhh” from more than one art museum docent in our years with small ones in tow. But sometimes, small children and small art museums make for big memories!

We are Bank of America card holders, so we have the opportunity to enjoy a free museum on the first weekend of every month as part of their “Museums on Us” program. Being new to Orlando, we thought this would be a great opportunity to try out a new museum. This month, we selected the Mennello Museum of American Art.

The museum itself is small, only one floor with a few carefully chosen exhibits, both permanent and rotating. However, it sits on a beautiful expanse of land along the shores of Lake Formosa in downtown Orlando. We were also able to wander through its well manicured gardens which are amply supplied with comfy adirondack chairs for lounging, and engaging sculptures to enjoy.

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No small sculptures

Currently, they are featuring the sculptures of Alice Aycock – Waltzing Matilda and Twin Vortexes. These sculptures are anything but small. My daughters were fascinated just by walking around them and noting all the various details. As they viewed the sculptures from different angles, they pointed out different features and had lively discussions about what the sculptor was creating.

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There are a variety of other sculptures to view along the pathways in the garden. My family was particularly delighted with the larger than life crayon sculpture.

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No small impact

Inside the museum, we noticed that we had arrived on the final weekend of the visiting exhibit The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William EgglestonEggleston’s photographs have shaped many in the art world beyond just photographers. American novelist Megan Abbott said, “To me, his photographs evoke entire worlds, not worlds we merely see, but worlds we feel, smell, touch…When you look long enough at his photographs, [like the gorgeous, lonely blue parking lot chosen as one of the exhibit’s central images] you get lost in it. You’re in another place.”

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Art credit: William Eggleston, Untitled, 1973, color photograph. Collection of the University of Mississippi Museum and Historic Houses, gift of Dr. William R. Ferris.

Indeed, even our small children were in another place as they walked slowly and quietly through the exhibit. Ordinary moments in time become extraordinary works of art. In ways that I cannot quite explain, Eggleston’s works were remarkable in their power to capture my attention and my imagination with scenes as pedestrian as laundry hanging on a clothesline.

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Art credit: William Eggleston, Untitled, color photograph. Collection of the University of Mississippi Museum and Historic Houses, gift of Dr. William R. Ferris.

My girls were full of big questions about the photos and why they were so powerful. They began creating whole stories around the snapshot moments captured and displayed on the walls of this small exhibit. Unfortunately, the exhibit has moved on, but I would encourage you to check out the works of this groundbreaking artist.

The Mennello Museum also has permanent exhibits featuring self-taught landscape artist Earl Cunningham, and a fascinating sculpture by Albert Paley, entitled Hector. 

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art credit: Albert Paley (b. Philadelphia, PA 1944), Hector, 1990, steel with red paint. Collection of The Mennello Museum of American Art, purchased by Friends of The Mennello Museum of American Art, 2016, from Paley Studios Archive, Rochester, NY

This towering steel sculpture calls to mind the character of Hector from Homer’s Iliad. My husband has had the pleasure of teaching the Iliad and my daughter has read a children’s version of it as well. We had a rather interesting and engaging discussion about Hector the Greek hero and the sculpture.

No small stories

We spent not quite two hours exploring the Mennello museum, both inside and out. I’m so glad we took the opportunity to visit. I have no doubt that we will return. The museum offers multiple opportunities to engage with the art they celebrate. They offer free docent led tours on the first Friday of every month, a monthly free day for families (where your small ones can create their own art), a monthly documentary movie screening, and even a puppet led story time for toddlers.

I was thrilled to find a museum that was accessible, engaging, and thought provoking to enjoy with my whole family. Even my six year old has asked if we can return! But you don’t have to be small to appreciate the Mennello. My husband and I were grateful for the opportunity to be exposed to some new-to-us artists and look forward to our next visit.

If you’re in the Orlando area, I would encourage you to check out the Mennello Museum. If you’re not, I have a hunch that you have your own small museum in town. Maybe you’ve always overlooked it because of it’s size. You may just find something there you never expected. What’s your favorite small museum you’ve explored? Share your experiences in the comments, I’m always looking for new places to see!

 

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Pure Moments and Visual Speaking

This week, we’re pleased to have a guest blogger with us. Robin McLaurin holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Early Childhood Education from Daemen College, a Master’s degree in Art Education from Texas Women’s University, and an M.F.A. from Vermont College of Fine Art. She has earned numerous distinctions as an artist including winner of the Red Poppy Festival Art Exhibit Grand Prize and being selected as the artist in residence at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. Ms. McLaurin has been an art teacher for over 15 years and has taught at all levels from lower elementary to undergraduate college students. She has taught at Grace Academy in Georgetown, Texas, since 2010 and inspires students to pursue the True, the Good, and the Beautiful as they both enjoy and create art. 

As a photographer I work to capture pure moments.  These pure moments for me are glimpses into heaven here on earth.  To recognize pure moments, I continue to train my eyes to see, my ears to hear and my heart to listen; and to be attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  My days are filled with the expectation of seeing and capturing pure moments.  My hope is to share these captured God moments with those around me.

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photo credit, Robin McLaurin

This past year, these pure moments have come often and when least expected, usually when my camera is not with me.  This has frustrated me.  One such moment was on the highway crossing over a creek sheltered by tall oak trees.  I looked to my right and bam.  What I saw was a beautiful sunset with brilliant oranges and deep yellows glistening off the water.  I began to lament that I did not have my camera with me when it occurred to me that this was such a pure moment that to capture it would decrease the purity and sanctity of it.  God had meant it just for me.  In exposing these pure moments to me I am entrusted with passing on His evidence of His faithfulness.

pure moments
photo credit, Robin McLaurin
Pure moments, pure materials

I transfer these pure moments into my process with the use of pure materials.  My most recent body of work is anthrotypes.  This is a historical photographic practice where chlorophyll is extracted from the petals of flowers.  Once extracted the emulsion (liquid from the petals) is painted onto paper.  The flowers I used to create the emulsion, is the same flower you will see on each photograph.  They are photographs made from plant matter.  The image on the paper is created through photosynthesis.  These images were made while I lived on the Cayman Islands last summer.

pure moments
photo credit, Robin, McLaurin

As we head into Thanksgiving and Christmas, I pray that you will expect to see these pure moments each day.  Pure moments are visual messages from God confirming His love for us. Pure moments serve as affirmation that He is with us always. They are visual messages from God sent specifically to you.

pure moments
photo credit, Robin McLaurin

Enjoying the pure moments,

Robin McLaurin

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