We need each other on this journey.
On my journey as an emerging artist, God has allowed me to be in different communities where I have learned to flourish. God knows how to create safe places and spaces for us to grow. Feeling emotionally safe is critical for my creative juices to flow. A community where one is not judged or compared to others is vital for growth. That is what creates the feeling of safety, getting rid of comparison so we can feel free to be uniquely ourselves. God made me and you in His image, the Creator’s image. It is critical to find the people who believe the same is true so you all can thrive as artists.
My first creative team of people included the original group of women in my Cultivate gathering in October 2014. Lauren, Julie, Judy, Tracy, Amber, Holly, Tamia, Sondra, Lesa, Tayler. Each offered a unique perspective. Each a member of my first art community. Even after four years, these women are still speaking life into my art and love into my life.
From this first community of women who walked with me through my struggles, many still continue to speak words of encouragement to my journey of becoming an artist. They are my people. They are honest. They are real. They are true. Find your people. Nurture those relationships. This journey was not meant to be a road traveled alone.
The Rejection Card
“I am not an artist. Again, I am rejected from the juried art show. I don’t think my paintings are any good.” All I can hear is the negative chatter in my brain. This is me. I call my soul mate, Ann Younger, and dump my negative thoughts through the phone line. She encourages me to not give up. To get back up and try again. I ask her for suggestions and she gently encourages me to move from a great place towards even more excellence in my work. She wears truth around her waist and brings out the best in me and my art.
I remember painting a heart on a 16x20 canvas using all of my extra paint from some other paintings my studio. I used many bright colors, but I did not know what strokes or color to add to make it stand out or give it definition. Ann told me what she observed as design elements in my artwork. I was unaware I used any of these elements, but Ann brought them into the light as part of my style.
She said, “Sara, on almost all of your paintings you use an outline technique with uneven strokes created with wooden skewer sticks. Try outlining the figure with a darker paint and see what happens.”
Some months before, Ann introduced me to the skewer sticks as a fundamental painting instrument. In fact, she gifted me with my first fix sticks in my painting tool repertoire. So, I tried using a raw umber (dark brown) color on the stick and rolled it over the surface of my painting in the outline of a heart. Oh, I loved it so much. The painting transformed from being passable to being a piece of art I loved. By Ann coaching me in this one small technique, it helped take my paintings to another level of excellence. Also, Ann advised attaching a paper backing to my giclee prints to increase the quality instead of just leaving them open like they come from the printer. My people make me better. Ann has helped me hone my skill set over and over again.
Another art community I joined in March 2018 is online with Matt Tommey. When I found the group he leads on social media, I thought Matt was reading my mail. He mentors through his online group called Created to Thrive with training modules teaching others to thrive as artists. I attended the Gathering of Artisans in October 2018 and found more of my people. We worship the Creator, took classes and learned from each other. Each week we connect through social media, and my ability to feel part of this community has continually grown. We learn from one other and encourage and support each other all over the world as artists.
My latest art community formed with my home church, Bethel Austin, which opened its doors in September 2018. The Prophetic Art Team is released to paint on the stage as part of our weekly worship services, and our artists have been well received by our church community. People express to me that they feel God’s love through my paintings. Talk about humbling. Just a year ago I would have been terrified to paint in from of a worshiping congregation alongside other talented artists. Now I get to participate in this manner of worshiping our Creator.
God is stretching me to trust Him even more during the prophetic art worship time. During the first few months, God would let me know what I needed to paint before I went on stage. However, more recently, He waits until I am on stage. I think this is to teach me to listen and create with Him in the moment. It does not matter how many people are watching me My prayer is that what I paint and how I paint will connect the hearts of those worshiping to His own heart.
DJ, a young man who watched me paint during worship recently, heard God speak into his life about how Jesus would never leave him. DJ had a vision that he was inside of my painting. He saw himself in the painting with Jesus by his side.
At the end of worship, I was talking with a woman who had never seen painting in the midst of corporate worship. As we discussed this, DJ came bolting up to talk with me about the painting. He wanted to know if he could buy it and asked how much it was. I told him the price, it was over $500. He told me he couldn’t pay that amount. The woman I was talking with, someone neither of us had met, told me that she would be right back. She showed back up with a credit card in hand. She bought the painting for DJ.
People helping people. What generosity! Sometimes God calls me to five my paintings away, but this time He blessed DJ through the gift of a stranger.
DJ has a call on his life to be a missionary overseas. The name of the painting is “His Light Will Be Seen.” The light of Jesus will be seen because of the obedience of DJ. And I am honored to be another person in DJ’s corner.
If you know someone who needs inspiration, healing or would like to join us
on this journey with God please, share this blog with them. ~Sara