Creativity, Art, and God

monet-painting-in-his-garden-at-argenteuil-1873I believe that when I see film or read books, on Michelangelo and his ceiling in Rome or figure of David, or see a Renoir portrait or Van Gogh’s landscape of the poppy field, in essence they are divine.  Divine is of God.  It lets us come into a realm that otherwise we might not see.  Whether by a painting, writing or whatever, the artist through his creative process, sees something that the rest of you do not.  It may be a revelation, if they are Christian, or just his own inner soul, but, that being and soul belongs to God.

I’ve seen since a young girl, loving music and art, that the artist is a true servant, for God gave him all his talents.  And did you know also, that Van Gogh, who cut off his ear in his mania, was also bi-polar disorder?  But, Christian or unchristian, God gave them their talent.  An artist has the capacity to delve deeper and see what others do not, even in visions.

There are many Christians who want to write stories or paint, or write music or even go into acting, and many churches or other Christians attempt to condemn and thwart that creative process.  There are many Christians without any talent, and many un-Christians with an abundance of talents.  God is no respecter of persons, and this is something  we seem reluctant to face.  God chooses His artists without any qualifications as He chooses His saints.  If we live by revelation as Christians, then we must be careful not to type-cast and be rigid to others or accept that condemnation, ourselves.  Yes, God raises up a lot of folks that have shown no talents before they come to the Lord, but, there are some churches that are so rigid they deter and condemn creative abilities ramming that person their way instead of God’s, thereby discouraging.

Writers want to be published (as I did) and the painter hopes that someone likes the finished canvass (as I sold and gave many away).  Yet, there are those that don’t want anything from a particular person.  Van Gogh was denied any of his work being bought in his lifetime.  What a terrible burden and disappointment for one’s whole life.  The composer needs his music to be heard.  They are all a part of communication, so we all underestimate the importance.  When we read a book we are not desensitized and like a sponge as we are watching tv.  We are reading along with the writer, and our minds absorb and the creative process lets our imagination grow.  It’s so important that a young child be taught to read and appreciate art, even if just looking at pictures.  A child shouldn’t be in technology all the time, but have a balance that includes enrichment, and to learn an appreciation of talents.

Even musicians communicate by their music.  Maybe it is a purer art form afterall.  But, when we get into Heaven its going to be filled with music and our joy and that will be our communication, not through language or words.  However, I love the English language, and I think our limited use of vocabulary here in the US has degraded so in the last several decades, that even lawyers, forget the profound use of the English word.  Instead we have replaced our language with slang, swearing, or gutturals that go hand in hand with the violence we live in, therefore vocabulary is lost.  Gone are the days, my schoolmates took elocution lessons, or we relish4ed in public debate clubs.  No wonder today, children can’t read, and just sit through a book…it’s all technology, videos, texting, emails.  And while technology and the vision of what it can do for our future is great, there is again, no balance, and kids have lost a valuable asset.  The written English word!  How can we expect them to excel in college, or understand the written word of the Bible, if they cannot read a simple book?  Now, kids want everything fast.

Look at Adam and Eve in Paradise.  How wonderful in Genesis, and beautiful the world in the garden must have looked to them.  The beautiful sunrise, the color of the sky, all the trees and animals and life all untouched by man.  All the stars, and listening to the grass growing even.  How beautiful and lovely before corruption.  That’s what the artist tries to do for the most part, is look beyond that corruption and create.  Its sad for children to be brought up entirely with instruction, Christian or otherwise; and not let a child explore their imagination.  It inhibits us and the fullness of life and imagination looses its’ meaning.  I saw nothing wrong reading Hans Christian Anderson’s tales to my children, and later C.S. Lewis.  But, Dickens and Jane Austin too, sparked our vividness for seeing how they lived in our mines.   We could picture the characters in our minds and envision as the book progressed.  Perhaps as an only child, my solitude kept me far more in touch with this world of imagination and my BJ as well, for he was an only child in every sense.  I was a voracious reader, young and still try hard to find the time.

Christians sometimes have missed the mark in this, and released a confused piety, and except for the Christian gospel, have contributed absolutely nothing to the arts.  I still enjoy watching a Shakespeare play or movie, or Dickens, or Jane Austin on PBS, or movie, or watching the Opera, and loved the three tenors.  I enjoy good jazz yet and watching a deep play, and until recently, in pain, went to the art galleries, and museums.  I enjoy beauty.  Beauty in nature as God created, and beauty through HIS artists.  Not everything is pornographic, objectionable and “not for us Christians”.  There again, discernment.  But, we have lost our way. If I feel joy and see beauty and love in something, then as far as I’m concerned, whether Christian or not, my God created it; through the artist, musician, writer, etc. (including the secular Jewish Barbra Streisand, who once I loved to listen to.

The artist at work (as I am now, and all of you other bloggers) is less bound by time and space than in ordinary life.  And we have to be less restricted in ordinary life than we are.  We cannot be limited or trapped. I’ve been writing today since about 8:30 am this morning, and it is now nearly 12am.  Sometimes I’ve written my books in 10 hour days. If I still have what is in my heart to put down, I can’t stop, and my friends sometimes don’t understand that I cannot just pick and choose my time and go right back where I left off.  Does anyone else feel that way?  It doesn’t work that way for me, perhaps now my age, too and losing my train of thoughts?  But it doesn’t work that way when I paint either.  There is a need to finish the project and see the end result.  God is constantly creating through us, with us, and to co-create with Gods direction is a calling that is very misunderstood by churches.  When I’m working, unless I have advanced meals prepared, I pick at peanut butter sandwiches, because I won’t take the time.  I can’t.  Creating is almost like a baby birthing inside of us.  That baby cries to come out and be heard.  Well, so does the painting and the book and music to the artist.  Billie Joel dreams music, I dream colors and get visions when God births a new painting in me.  Since a child, colors drew me in.  I love colors.  Even in stores I gravitated to the colors on a rack or a particular print.  I love my lavenders, purples, magenta, sages, and reds..brick red..pale yellows and gold…I love colors still.

Ecclesiastes 7:3 “Sorrow better than laughter, for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.  Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; (Hebrew, an ancient 6 string guitar)  upon they harp with a solemn sound.  For thou Lord, hast made me glad through THY work; I will triumph in the works of my hands”.  Psalm 92:3-4  God gives us our talents, which he wants us to use.

Madeleine L’Engle wrote the following excerpts in “Walking on Water”, Reflections on Faith and Art”.   “We are to be children of the light, and we are meant to walk in the light, and we have been groping along in the darkness.  The creative act helps us to emerge into the light, that awful light which the disciples saw on the Mount of Transfiguration, and which the Hebrew children saw on the face of Moses when he had been talking with God on Mt. Sinai.  Even Jesus disciples wanted to trap Jesus, Elijah and Moses in the tabernacles, tame them, pigeonhole and label them, as all of us have continued to do ever since.  If my religion is true, it will stand up to all my questioning, there is no need to fear.  But, if it is not true, if it is man imposing strictures on God” (as in Galileo’s day and Pelosi’s left on abortion now) “then I want to be open to God not, to what man (or woman) says about God, playing at BEING God.  I want to be open to revelation, to new life, to new birth, to new light.”

“The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover.  If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.”  I agree with this implicitly.  “The artist is someone who is full of questions, who cries them in great angst, who discovers rainbow answers in the darkness, then rushes to canvas or paper.  An artist is someone who cannot rest, who can never rest as long as there is suffering and that is divine.  The creative act is an escape from the power of time and ascent to the divine.  Most artists are aware that during the deepest moments of that creation they are out on the other side of themselves…and so are free from time, with the same joyousness that comes in the greatest moments of prayer.”

When I was physically able, I enjoyed tremendously contributing my paintings in art shows here locally, and meeting with other artists.  I discovered that there is an abundance of talented people out there, who give from their heart and donate fine beauty to businesses,  galleries, and even churches.  Unfortunately, the first place schools cut back is the arts.  However, somehow, art and the rich talents of artists have survived and always will as long as God puts His light in our hearts.

So, through my desolation and the pain of my son’s death 10 years ago, and on my road to restoration, I have come out of the wilderness that God placed me and birthed my creativity.  “The wilderness and the solitary place be glad for them and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.”  Isaiah 35:1  Madeleine said, “We do not judge great art, it judges us.”
*From my  book, “Restoration Road” copyright 2004 Morris Publishing

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