Art as Something Deeper

“Morning, Monarch Lake”
Oil on Panel
9×12″
2007
I think that sometimes I get a little bit too cerebral about whether or not I’m doing what I’m supposed be doing with my life, or whether I’m doing enough or having enough purpose. I picked up a book last weekend that made me look at things a bit differently, and gave me a sense of peace that I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing right now, just by being who I am. It helped connect the dots between my passion for art and nature with my faith, and I thought I’d share it for anyone who might find it useful. The book is called “Wide Open Spaces”, and in it, Author Jim Palmer says the following:

“I met a woman who enjoys photography. She said to me, “I meet God at the end of my lens.” She uses the lens of her camera as a reminder to become “more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him.” Her love for God is expressed as her love for photography. I hope you feel the freedom in that. God’s purpose is not fulfilled by doing a lot of religious things you may or may not want to do. The things you love doing, what you are most passionate about, are the most significant avenues through which God wants you to know him. You have a love for these things because God placed it within you. David wrote in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord for he will give you the desires of your heart.” In other words, as you experience the joy and satisfaction of knowing God, follow your desires because God will be in them.”

I love it when he says, “I hope you feel the freedom in that,” because I do. I’ve always been able to feel the presence of God in nature, and it’s a strong component of my faith that extends into the subject matter that I paint. I love that I’m being reminded here that my art isn’t just about making pretty pictures, but that it’s a bigger part of who I am.

How do your beliefs shape your art?

Out to Prove Something

I wonder sometimes how many artists are occasionally motivated by the desire to prove other people wrong in their notions about what a career in the arts is all about.

I know I am, but sometimes I think that’s because I’m constantly surrounded by people who don’t take art very seriously.

I work full time as an engineer, and engineers (and perhaps accountants) should be placed at the very top of the list of people who think that art is not a practical career choice. The people I work with think it’s just plain odd that I paint – they don’t really know what to make of it. Apparently it’s unheard of for someone to be an engineer and into anything remotely artsy.

Because I went to an engineering school for college, most of my friends are also engineer types. When I tell people I plan to eventually drop engineering and paint full time, I get replies that fall into one of two categories. The first includes jokes ranging from, “Glad your husband has a good job,” to the oh-so-polite, “Well, there’s a reason they call them starving artists.” The second is the more positive response category, which includes any response that implies that a person approves of the idea of quitting what you tolerate to do what you love.

More and more, I find myself judging my friends by which of these categories their responses fall into. I’m very defensive – if someone who I consider a friend makes a snide comment about the money-making potential of art, I seem to unconsciously check them off of my list of allies.

Apparently this art stuff is really important to me. After all, you could make degrading comments about engineering all day and I would laugh along with you. I have no such lenience about art!

I’ve met plenty of artists who make a decent living and are able to support their families with their art. It’s damn hard work, and it takes some sacrifice, but it’s possible. And everytime somebody makes me feel like it’s not, it’s just more fuel for me to prove to them that it is.

It might take me a while to get there, but I’m working on it. I’m always up for a good challenge!

Out to Prove Something

I wonder sometimes how many artists are occasionally motivated by the desire to prove other people wrong in their notions about what a career in the arts is all about.

I know I am, but sometimes I think that’s because I’m constantly surrounded by people who don’t take art very seriously.

I work full time as an engineer, and engineers (and perhaps accountants) should be placed at the very top of the list of people who think that art is not a practical career choice. The people I work with think it’s just plain odd that I paint – they don’t really know what to make of it. Apparently it’s unheard of for someone to be an engineer and into anything remotely artsy.

Because I went to an engineering school for college, most of my friends are also engineer types. When I tell people I plan to eventually drop engineering and paint full time, I get replies that fall into one of two categories. The first includes jokes ranging from, “Glad your husband has a good job,” to the oh-so-polite, “Well, there’s a reason they call them starving artists.” The second is the more positive response category, which includes any response that implies that a person approves of the idea of quitting what you tolerate to do what you love.

More and more, I find myself judging my friends by which of these categories their responses fall into. I’m very defensive – if someone who I consider a friend makes a snide comment about the money-making potential of art, I seem to unconsciously check them off of my list of allies.

Apparently this art stuff is really important to me. After all, you could make degrading comments about engineering all day and I would laugh along with you. I have no such lenience about art!

I’ve met plenty of artists who make a decent living and are able to support their families with their art. It’s damn hard work, and it takes some sacrifice, but it’s possible. And everytime somebody makes me feel like it’s not, it’s just more fuel for me to prove to them that it is.

It might take me a while to get there, but I’m working on it. I’m always up for a good challenge!

Wide Open Spaces

After college, Nate and I moved to Houston and bought our first house in what was most definitely suburbia. I used to go jogging on the streets of my neighborhood, and think of how I would be so much more hip if I lived downtown. I wanted to sell our big house with a pool and buy a cool townhome in Memorial Park or the Heights, and spend my weekends jogging around the Rice University Campus and hanging with friends at trendy restaurants and bars.

I thought that this would make me happy. I thought this was the type of life you should have when you’re only 22.

I wasn’t very honest with myself.

Seriously, what a joke. The person that I really am used to mourn every night that I couldn’t see the stars in Houston because of the humidity and pollution. I used to run at sunset on a deserted country road on the outskirts of our neighborhood, because it was the closest I could get to some open space and peace. I didn’t feel like myself for two years because I couldn’t sleep with the windows open and wake up to the smell of cut grass and rain. Sometimes I would jump in the car and drive and hour out of town just to remind myself that the world wasn’t all strip malls and highways.

I only lasted two years in Houston, and then I moved back home to Colorado. It wasn’t because I had a boring house in the ‘burbs and a job I didn’t like – it was because so much of who I am is wrapped up in wildness and the great outdoors.

I’m just not a city girl. I’m old enough now to be honest with myself about that.

I think I could live downtown for about week, after which time I would start craving the wide open spaces and red dirt trails that are home to me.

Being outdoors reminds me that there’s a whole world out there. Outside of the little sphere of my own life, the seasons continue to change and the stars continue to shine. The world goes on outside of my own drama.

When I step out the door and go for a hike, a trail run, a bike ride, or a backpacking trip, it’s because I have to. Sometimes I just need to be grounded. I need to be brought back down to reality. I need to be reminded that there’s lot of beauty in the world that we take for granted, and that none if it has anything to do with me.

And that’s why I paint. Because I want other people to see what I see, when they otherwise might not notice.

It’s as simple as that.

Wide Open Spaces

After college, Nate and I moved to Houston and bought our first house in what was most definitely suburbia. I used to go jogging on the streets of my neighborhood, and think of how I would be so much more hip if I lived downtown. I wanted to sell our big house with a pool and buy a cool townhome in Memorial Park or the Heights, and spend my weekends jogging around the Rice University Campus and hanging with friends at trendy restaurants and bars.

I thought that this would make me happy. I thought this was the type of life you should have when you’re only 22.

I wasn’t very honest with myself.

Seriously, what a joke. The person that I really am used to mourn every night that I couldn’t see the stars in Houston because of the humidity and pollution. I used to run at sunset on a deserted country road on the outskirts of our neighborhood, because it was the closest I could get to some open space and peace. I didn’t feel like myself for two years because I couldn’t sleep with the windows open and wake up to the smell of cut grass and rain. Sometimes I would jump in the car and drive and hour out of town just to remind myself that the world wasn’t all strip malls and highways.

I only lasted two years in Houston, and then I moved back home to Colorado. It wasn’t because I had a boring house in the ‘burbs and a job I didn’t like – it was because so much of who I am is wrapped up in wildness and the great outdoors.

I’m just not a city girl. I’m old enough now to be honest with myself about that.

I think I could live downtown for about week, after which time I would start craving the wide open spaces and red dirt trails that are home to me.

Being outdoors reminds me that there’s a whole world out there. Outside of the little sphere of my own life, the seasons continue to change and the stars continue to shine. The world goes on outside of my own drama.

When I step out the door and go for a hike, a trail run, a bike ride, or a backpacking trip, it’s because I have to. Sometimes I just need to be grounded. I need to be brought back down to reality. I need to be reminded that there’s lot of beauty in the world that we take for granted, and that none if it has anything to do with me.

And that’s why I paint. Because I want other people to see what I see, when they otherwise might not notice.

It’s as simple as that.