I was inspired to finish this painting (not surprisingly) after my recent trip to Glacier National Park. I actually began painting it after going to Olympic National Park in Washington this year back in April, and never finished it. But I recently added the final touches (color, sky, and text).
The most important thing I'm learning in this season of my life seems to be the importance of living the life you want- or the life that feels inside the most right and true to who you are. And I mean that on a number of levels: one is obviously what you do with your time- that is your life- but in another way, in a way that actually makes what you do with your time worth something.
I find a certain necessary order to my inner life that then becomes reflected in my outer: art is not so much about "trying to spend time making art" as it is about continually finding my center and letting the byproduct be creativity, creating things. Sometimes people say things like, 'you seem to find a lot of time to be creative,' but the reality is I actually find a lot of time to do everything else. The main thing I am always seeking is the source, not the final outcome.
I'm learning to let what is most important to my heart also be most important to my life. A double-mindedness takes place- a split of our selves, a feeling of being lost, purposeless; depressed, un-anchored to anything; un-cared for, maybe- when we aren't particularly living with any purpose. And living with comfort, possessions, or company isn't the same thing as purpose.
It has taken me many years- mostly of struggle that felt entirely like constant failure and confusion, actually- to commit to and follow the little thing inside of myself that called me to paint (and sell it, and share it, and talk about it, and love it, and own it).
I like to share art for a number of reasons, but maybe the coolest is that it's become part- a beautiful part- of the story of who I am. Speaking in strictly in numbers, I've spent more years of my life depressed than happy; more years lost than found; more years broken than healed; and more years confused than certain; more years having very little idea who I am than fully knowing. But finding that thing- that purpose that we all seek- has been the most important reason for changing my life.
Which I think is an amazing thing- it's not something I'm proud of, per say (to see 'how far I've come' or 'what I've overcome,' but more humbled by, actually. I thought it was a testament to my strength, but I have come to see it is a testament to God's- to something far beyond me that I didn't see in the darkness.
I know that the peace I feel now is a matter of more healing being given to me than I could ever have produced myself, and for that I am grateful.
Every picture tells a story; everything created has a reason behind it and a place it specifically has come from in my mind. The more I paint, the more I see there's something pretty simple and natural- not terribly profound- about this relationship between 'the nature of the creator' and 'what is created.' Producing art is a byproduct of living a certain way: with awareness, with a love of truth, and with a motivation to act not from fear but love (doing what we don't have to out of pure utility, but we want to do because it is beautiful).
I read the words by one of my favorite theologians the other day: 'nearness to God brings likeness to God. The more you see God, the more of God will be seen in you.' This is what it means to me to be on the path I am on now. When we are living primarily to love a good God, people should look at our lives and be gradually sure that He exists through us- not because we are so awesome, but because He is.
C.S. Lewis has a quote of the same nature: do not shine so that others can see you, shine so that through you, others can see God.' Only when we know what it means to love God are we humbled never to be egotistical, wanting of our own glory, or certain of our own wisdom. Instead we aim to live with the traits that we believe God has: He is slow to anger, giving of grace, love, and forgiveness; hidden from sight but saturated within us forever, best expressed through people who give selfless love; He is creative beyond measure, capable, and strong; He is adventurous and loyal; He is Love itself.
And I don't think I'd want my own personal adventure to be in the name of anything else.