Reflections on a two year project
Recently I’ve been learning to seek the quiet presence of God. Away from all the noise and distractions. Away from the phone and the internet and social media. Away from the hype and the volume of a corporate worship experience. All those things are not bad...but I am learning to cherish the silence. Learning to sit and just listen. Sometimes I wonder if people of my generation are uncomfortable in silence. It seems we always need a screen and we always need an outlet and we always have to be talking or listening to music or posting what we’re eating for lunch (I don’t care what you eat for lunch by the way!) but really. Taking a step back and listening and really looking at the world around me. This is one of the lessons I learned while painting the creation series. It was a sort of monk like experience for me in many ways. I was by myself during the whole project except visits from my sister and towards the end a few international friends. It was me in the studio. Me staring at the painting and the painting staring back at me. It was me and God. (Don’t tell my English teacher about my bad grammar, or my mother). Well me, the canvas and God, but only two of us spoke verbally. One of us spoke visually. It’s funny to think of it that way. It was a three way conversation. I found myself often just staring at the paintings. I cried when they left my studio. Really, unexpectedly, I was overcome with emotion when it was time to pack them up. We’d spent so much time together. Two years to be exact. I found myself throughout the weeks just staring in silence. Reading the paintings, letting them speak to me, and constantly assessing and reassessing if they were speaking what I told them I needed them to say to the viewer. Whomever that viewer may be. Sometimes I would sit for an hour.
A lot of this process required looking and being still and listening. Often times it wouldn’t register until much later that I’d sat there for an hour in the stillness and quietness of the studio. I feel like I’m learning to listen. Every night now when I get home I try to listen to the sounds as I get out of the car. It’s summertime here and the frogs and crickets and cicadas are almost deafening sometimes when I come home in the evening. If you’re really still you can hear the flapping of birds wings as they fly past you. I tell the moon goodnight often times as I’m walking into my house and pause to stop and stare up into the sky and reminisce on the many hours of study I did of space in order to paint the creation series. I feel in a sense more connected, more in tune with the rhythm of the universe. Every single thing that God put into its proper place and set on its proper course. Things like the moon. How often I would just go right past it and never take a moment to just stand in silent wonder. I learned the same side of the moon is facing the earth at all times. That’s just how it orbits. It’s fascinating. The degree with which God has appointed the stars in the heavens amazes me. Even more so now after studying in depth. I’m overwhelmed now with green. Last week I was in the mountains and as majestic as they were off in the distance- what caught my eye were the million shades of green dancing on the mountainside when I was up close. Greens are different in different cities and at different altitudes. Perhaps I knew that before but now I’m keenly aware when my eyes scan my surroundings. My brain constantly trying to dissect the recipe of the greens so I can record it in the studio. Its good to get quiet and survey the greens and listen to the birds wings as they go by. It’s good to say goodnight to the moon and thank God for the incredible world he put us in. It’s good. I know that now on a deeper level after spending 2 years in a lot of silence, doing a lot of looking, and a lot of listening.