I participated in a women’s event at Imago Dei Community last Friday evening. It was entitled ‘Seen.’ Artists were given the task of creating a piece that displayed how they believe God sees them.
I didn’t have a set idea of what I wanted to paint, but knew that I wanted it to contain a figure representative of me. It’s been a while since I painted a studio piece of a figure. I’ve always said that figures are the most difficult and the most rewarding subjects for me to draw. I would still say that. I procrastinated painting this piece until 2 days before it was due and turned it in 15 minutes before the deadline. I wasn’t exactly sure if I had completed the assigned task, but it was done and I handed it in. I knew that I would have to share the story behind the piece at the event, but I didn’t feel compelled to write anything down. I decided to wing it, which is very odd for me.
At the event we were asked to stand next to our artwork and share with the women attending why we painted what we did. Artists rarely have to do this and we awkwardly hovered near our pieces grasping cups of tea while waiting to be approached. The first few interactions felt strange, but as the evening continued, something really unique happened. Each conversation that occurred and each question posed revealed glimpses into the meaning behind my image. Not just for the other women, but for me as well. I have had this experience in the past. I paint an image first and then ask God to reveal Himself to me through what I have created. It is an experience like no other as an artist. This time, however, instead of being alone in the process, I was in community. The encouragement and presence of the women that night gave me the opportunity to share my story, but more than that, it invited others to speak into that story and to share theirs as well.
The next day I received a message of thanks from one of the women I met that night. She also sent me a video of a worship song that she said reminded her of my painting. I had never heard it before, but it was as if I had commissioned these lyrics to accompany my piece. It is called ‘In over my head’ by Jenn Johnson, from Bethel music, and you can listen to it here. It beautifully describes in words what I tried to convey with watercolor paint and an ink pen.