Of Oil Swirls and the Painter’s Canvases

Remnants of Korean Steak Wraps spread sesame oil and soy sauce in brown swirls beside romaine lettuce leaves on two plates still on the table. Minced garlic and ginger hang fragrant in the air.

Photo: Megan Myers, Creative Commons cc license

My husband’s voice slips out from seven year old Daniel’s bedroom, reading a bedtime story aloud. Daniel sniffs and coughs, reaching for his handkerchief, a re-purposed cloth napkin.

“Mom, what makes colds go away fast?” he asked wearily a few minutes ago. 

“Sleep, buddy. Lots of sleep. Let’s have you go to bed early, okay?”

He’s brushing his teeth now, and a sentence from my daughter’s AP Drawing class has been running through my mind this evening.

“Create an entrance to the picture for the eyes to travel to the subject,” states her Art Principles handout. “The eye should travel in a circuit from the subject to the secondary subjects before leaving the painting. Do not place an obstacle in the picture which prevents the eye from going beyond it.” 

And it’s funny to have an art concept speak wisdom into my life, but I can sense a deeper truth from it in relation to my walk with God. This concept that I want the observer’s eye to scroll right to the subject is something that reverberates truth in me. I desire for people glancing in my life to find their eyes directed to the beauty of Jesus. 

So, Morgan’s art principle is on repeat in my brain, and I find myself reviewing all aspects of my life. In my attitudes, am I pointing viewers to the beauty and transformative power of my God? In my stories and the words that I choose to describe my life, my marriage, my family, and my sin struggles, am I pointing to God’s restorative grace and his unstoppable love?

Just like a painter or a sculptor chooses what to paint, where to highlight, and what to bring the eye to, I choose how I perceive and receive my world and attitudes. This color-swirled, majestic canvas of our lives is a gift and masterpiece still being finished by the Master Artist. I desire to have each curving Van Gogh-like flourish draw the eyes to our Artist God.

It reminds me of a verse I’ve been thinking about this week from my Bible reading in 2 Corinthians chapter 6. Paul is writing a letter to some believers and he says, “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path so that our ministry will not be discredited.”

It reminds me of the art principle about placing no obstacle in the picture which prevents the eye from moving on. Then Paul racks up a seventeen-item list about all the ways he and his co-workers are striving to make right choices, but he ends with this thought: “We have spoken freely to you and opened wide our hearts to you.”

And I think this is the way we draw the viewer’s eyes to the Subject each time. We speak freely, striving honestly to have clean hands but admitting when we’ve stumbled, and we point always to the beautiful work of the Artist God in us. He gets all the credit. 

And we open wide our hearts to you. Thank you, friend, for this online or email friendship, for this pointing to the Artist God together. I appreciate you and would love to get to know you more.

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  1. Cheryl Barker on December 8, 2015 at 3:58 am

    Jennifer, I want people to see Jesus through my life and writing, too. So grateful I've gotten to know you online. Would be so much fun to meet sometime, wouldn't it? By the way, I got a copy of the book you told me about — the one on slow writing. Am working through it now and really enjoying it. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Alecia Simersky on December 8, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    What a great analogy and imagery you have created with your words. As a christian we all want our lives to reflect the glory of God…I pray we will not put anything in the path to distract from the main subject of our lives.

  3. Ceil on December 9, 2015 at 2:48 am

    Hi Jennifer! I always believed that if you truly wanted to reflect the light of Christ, then God would honor that wish. What else would He want us to do? I think you are speaking His heart here.

    May you always impress people with the love and peace of Christ! And may your son be healed soon too.

  4. Unknown on December 9, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    I think that shows an abundant gift of wisdom from God to find that analogy in the art lesson. The painting of your and your family's lives point to the Artist. What a gift for us to be part of the pathway… Awesome…

  5. TC Avey on December 9, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    Awesome post!
    What a great lesson from the art class!
    It reminds of what I heard someone say once about how we are to represent God in such a fashion that they see Him and not us. They used name brands as an example: When we see the Coke label or a Niki symbol we know about that product but not many of us know about the person who originally came up with those products.
    We should be "behind the scene" and God's logo should be what people see.

    I'm rambling. Sorry, your post just got me to thinking about that and reflecting on my own life- I pray I promote HIM more than myself. That people see Him in me more than they see me.

  6. Dolly@Soulstops on December 9, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    I appreciate and love how you found godly wisdom from an art lesson, which shows the Spirit is alive in you and you're open to His leading…and yes, may we not put obstacles in another person's way so she/he cannot see Christ…great application…and I'm sympathizing and empathizing with your son…pray he recovers quickly and none of you get it…Merry Christmas, my friend 🙂

  7. Jean Wise on December 10, 2015 at 2:02 am

    I love reading your words and how you drew a great lesson from an art experience. I think you and I are similar in our writing and blog approach. I did tweet this and subscribed. glad you stopped by my blog so we could connect.

  8. Lisa notes... on December 10, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    Pointing to the Artist . . . I'm reading "Awe" right now and that's the very thing that author talks about. May we always seek to wonder at God's Awe! Thanks for sharing this perspective, Jennifer.

  9. cabinart on December 13, 2015 at 5:16 am

    Interesting concept, Jennifer. I don't know if I ever actually learned that in any art class, but it makes sense. I like the concept in terms of our lives more than a rule for art. The best concept that I ever learned in art that applies to life is that light is the answer. In our lives, The Light is the answer. Thank you for another thought-provoking post.

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