Tag Archives: artist

It’s Under My Nose

tn_source-of-the-derwent.jpgI am light years away from the busyness and activity that was my world before I was laid low and diagnosed with CFS/ME! Gone are the ‘badges’ I used to wear and polish with pride: ‘engineer’, ‘manager’, ‘chairman of trustees’, ‘counsellor’, ‘prayer minister’, ‘regional leader’, ‘mountain climber’.

The only badge I have now is ‘beloved of Jesus.’ My favourite Bible character then, was Elijah strutting his stuff on the top of Mount Carmel. A more appropriate personality now, would be Amos, sitting under a fruit tree keeping an eye on his sheep.

This is one of my oil paintings. It’s of the source of the River Derwent in the Peak National Park of England. On one of those sort-after sorties into the wilderness. I followed the river as a stream, winding round higher and higher through the moorland heights. The sides of the valley were splashed in heather in bloom and the banks of the tiny stream rippling between banks covered in vivid green moss. A beautiful stimulating scene, it still stirs me when I look at it.

I have since had to learn new ways, working with ‘what is!’. No more assaults on moorland crags and traversing mountain ridges to complete a challenge. I have become content with a few hundred yards gentle amble – at the most, on the flat, with the wind behind me, on a good day – just to ‘be’ and taking in what is close to. There wasn’t time before, I was in too much of a rush. I now appreciate what is ‘under my nose’ so to speak. This was what my heart longed for, what my soul was crying our for. Be still and take it in. The blackthorn blossom on stark black branches, the kestrel poised for the attack, the early powdery willow catkins shaking in the breeze.

I have found that there is life in the solitude. A change from ‘head’ to ‘heart’. Much-needed time for relationship, first with Father, then my wife and family and the occasional friend. To stop and listen and consider.

The transition between the two worlds was hard, even painful, devastating, and at first most unfair. It was like being catapulted into the unknown. The way forward through the fog was only indicated by a signpost with one word, ‘God!’ I am so glad that I was given the grace to go this way.

But note: there came a time for Amos to go in obedience and deliver his message.

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Father’s Touch

tn_boy-and-hands-2.jpg

This is a pencil sketch I did, based upon an old magazine cutting that really caught my imagination.

This is a pencil sketch I did, based upon an old magazine cutting that really caught my imagination.

The boy is looking directly into the adult’s eyes – let’s assume it was his father – and it’s clear he sees total loving acceptance. See how his father gently touches the boy’s cheek and places a reassuring hand upon his shoulder.

It’s as if his father could be saying:

I am really proud of you
I’m so glad you told me this
I’ve often felt the same
There’s no need to feel shame
I know it’s hard for you at the moment
but you’ll come through
You are doing so well
and I am with you all the way.

I know I am an adult but there have been times when the fatigue has threatened to overpower, and I have wondered how much more I could take, when I have need to hear similar words from my Father God. They spur you on, lift the shame, encourage and empower.

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Freedom to Be Me!

birthdaypainting.jpgI am learning such a lot from our grandchildren. The girls especially are avid confident painters and apply colour with gay abandon. Our two granddaughters did this for my last birthday. It’s one of their more careful ones.

I was brought up differently and had colouring books, where I had to paint or crayon between the lines. My success was judged upon the neatness. Junior school was the same, self expression was just not on the agenda and art at high school was a disaster.

When I eventually found out in later life that I could ‘do’ art, I became quite good at painting what I could see, whether it was a rolling landscape or a portrait. But given a blank sheet of paper with permission to draw or paint anything, I was totally at sea. I just could not do it. There was a block.

My wife and I were given the opportunity to experiment in someone’s studio. I laid a giant sheet of paper on the floor and got to work with vivid poster paints. I sloshed and splodged. I squirted, flirted and splashed and dabbed, until it began to have a strange effect upon me. I smiled and then laughed, I couldn’t stop because I was so enjoying myself. This was freedom indeed. I felt mischievous, but it didn’t matter.

Now, this isn’t just about painting. It’s about me being me, the person God has made me to be. I’m unique, there is no one else like me. I’m not a copy and my identity is not determined by meeting other people’s expectations. I’m not a clone and especially I am not a cardboard cutout Christian. A divine process began of God removing the blockages and freeing me up to be me. This was accelerated, albeit painfully, after I was diagnosed with ME/CFS. It’s going to be an interesting future!

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Being and Creativity

fieldgate.jpgWhen I was diagnosed with CFS/ME a lot of my activity was curtailed. The ‘doing’ was restricted and I had to learn all over again just to ‘be!’ There was time to consider where I was going in life, to notice the things close to and to pray. Prayer was often difficult at first, with a mind fogged with fatigue. Much of the time it meant sitting silently, accepting in faith that God was with me and waiting for hope to rise.

Gradually, out of the ‘being’ came expression, especially in the form of writing and painting.

This is one of the quickest oil paintings I have done and was almost completely carried out using a palette knife. I had a clear impression of what I wanted to achieve and the very act of getting the paint onto the canvas thick and fast, was in itself very releasing.

The location is down a leafy lane close to our doctor’s surgery. It beats waiting in the waiting room any day! There I can spend a few minutes’ interlude in the cool shade, standing or rather leaning against the old fieldgate, looking out at the glory of the sunlight fields. That’s just ‘being’ – Father and I together.

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