As many here know...I've been seeking to be sensitive to the process/act of painting for myself and how it may mirror or metaphor the spiritual side of being a painter.
I was thinking this week about that sense spiritually where we feel God calling us deeper into a walk and into a knowing of him. A pressing in or as we sometimes refer to it..."Deep calling unto deep"...
9x12 oil on Professional series Wallis Paper, done this week-
I was musing over this in one of our occasional conversations where my wife likes to point out how there would be many conveniences and things to enjoy if we moved and lived in the Green Bay area again. Usually...like this past weekend, that comes after we take something in. We took in a musical at the university theater..."Les Miserables" and the university men's basketball game against Illinois the following night at a very nice impressive new arena called the Resch Center.
Having fun...my wife pointed out how we could do more that kind of thing, attempting to appeal to me in a way that I'd agree.
Of course...teaching two hours north with my retirement time into the system and such, we both know leaving is not really in consideration at this time, but as the arts get cut across the country in schools, and states budget art out of curriculum mandates such that districts can drop it...well, one never knows if one might be looking for a new job the following year. *shrug...
Yet...having already lived 26 years in Green Bay taking EVERY weekend to escape north to experience the national forests, lakes and so forth...I always figured one was better off living in such an environment calling it home, and thus less weekends would necessarily be used to travel to larger regional towns to do one's shopping.
My wife...basically is a home body...and whether she stayed in the confines basically of a house here in the northwoods, or in a house in Green Bay (population about a quarter of a million), her life would not change much as far as interacting just outside the home. Perhaps less driving time to the mall or favorite stores in a larger city.
On the other hand...I would be accutely aware of all that I have come to know and have become intimately fond of as concerns the outdoors and moods of nature, thus what would be sacrificed and lost. Gone the isolation one can find themselves in a pristine environment. Gone the many rivers, rapids, the sounds and smells. The coolness of a cedar swamps bottoms and its smells. Gone the sightings and interactions with bears, many deer, wild turkeys. Gone the familiar recognition of horizons filled with various tree types...the shores of lakes and waters lapping up and caressing the rocks.
As I thought about this...I considered the longing that would grow in the heart for what has been lost. I could imagine the potential resentment of the manufactured distractions that would all vy to replace what was lost, and compete for attention.
What many come to treasure in those particulars of a busy hustle city enviroment, would be a sense of sadness, or of loss to myself. Of course those whose passions lie in the city and the familiar there would experience the opposite moving to a sparsely populated forested area I'm sure.
As I was thinking this over...I was thinking how one living and engaging in an environment qualifies one more to speak of it. Yet, those of us as artists understand that a unique familiarity comes of a lifetime spent observing and interacting with a particular genre and medium.
There is a step beyond recreational occasion here in the northwoods where the artist by near daily routine engages the investigative observe mode of time spent before the subject with medium in hand. Nature revealing more of itself to that individual whom is constantly seaking, becoming more intimate.
I was thinking of those that have a mental assent, more like an opinion that perhaps there is a God. They might even rarely show up at a church door for things like Easter, Christmas whatever. Is that a relationship with God? Well, for such folks they might think so...and all that in their thinking is possible to know of God. They are perhaps like my wife metaphorically where their world exists inside the confines of a house. My wife might tell another she lives in the northwoods, but as confining herself to the house interiors she would only best qualify to speak of the house environment, NOT with authority of the "northwoods"...not truly.
Wouldn't matter where that house was located, the walls inside and space therein is their world of intimacy. Having perhaps an opinion about the outside world, but spending so little time there can say nothing more authoritatively/experientially than perhaps what they experience running from the house to the car, and the car on route to a store.
Then those that are busy engaging activities, doings and such outside the home, perhaps recreationally...and have developed a love for what the region offers
. Perhaps this may be something like a person active in their church or religious life. God reveals more of himself and draws more to himself. He has greater opportunity in that this group outside the house are seeking more, to reveal more of Himself.
Then I was thinking how the person observing and creatively involved or engaged near daily with their preferred environment has pressed just a bit further still such that the object of their devotion finds optimum opportunity to reveal even more. A pressing in...
We could say then that a person living in a pristine forested natural environment knows more about such an environment and the moods nature provides than say the person that lives their life in the city. Knows more than the person that stays indoors.
We could say that a person that seeks a greater intimacy such as to creatively express and respond might yet understand and experience even more. A pressing in...
Thus...as I seek to understand and engage more of my environment, and I have done so for nearly 30 years, I see the advantages as an artist...but metaphorically it speaks to me that more can be anticipated pressing into and hanging out with God. Again, painting showing me something about the faith life and vice versa....
I have had folks wanting to learn more about painting water contact me for advice, and I discover in talking with them they spend very little time around water at all. Part of my answer involves the obvious, which is to begin to take time in their life to pursue opportunities to recreate and observe around water.
Contemplating and musing over all these things, I came to feel I have much yet to gain pressing deeper into my subject environment, and into my relationship with God.