Music, Art, And Worship (My Favorite Stuff!)

worship art

Jorie Henderson leads an evening of worship.

Music is the language of my heart. Nothing can reach me in quite the same way. It transcends words and preconceived ideas. Perhaps that is why music is such an important part of worship. Oh yes, you can worship God without music; it is certainly possible to enjoy music without engaging in worship. But put together music, worship, art, and a bunch of people you love, and it’s surely a taste of heaven.

Drummer Matt Henderson

Drummer Matt Henderson

Last week, my good friends, Jorie and Matt Henderson, brought together all of these elements in a beautiful evening of worship as they recorded music and video for their new music project, “Love Like Fire.” Jorie is a gifted vocalist, song writer, and keyboard player. Her husband, Matt, is a fine drummer and sound engineer. They’ve been working on some new music, and it’s all worship music. They have also enlisted some excellent musicians who are passionate about Jesus to be a part of this project. And, they called me and my artist friend, Sandy Beegle, to do live painting for the recording session.

Matt and Jorie had the auditorium set up to be vibey and cozy, with candles and chairs all facing the center. (But we were not confined to chairs, no sirree!) Our friend and pastor, Diane, was on hand to start us off with a rousing prayer. Later, Miss Aubrey stirred things up with more prayer. Folks were free to praise and worship and groove. Guitarist Dave Beegle added his awesome electric sound to the mix, and Emily Chamberlain (pastor/worship team member) led her song, “Beautiful God,” which I haven’t been able to stop singing ever since.

It’s so delightful to be in the company of people from several generations, coming together for the purpose of worshiping God. I saw young kids dancing and singing, college age guys and girls, grandmas and grandpas, and every age in between. Taking a couple of hours out of our busy lives to enjoy each other and God is something that is hard to find time to do, yet I’m always so glad I’ve done it.

"Throne Room II" - worship painting by Mollie Walker Freeman

“Throne Room II” – worship painting by Mollie Walker Freeman

My painting from that evening is another “throne room” picture, based upon my impressions from the book of Revelation. I tend to revisit these themes numerous times because I do not tire of imagining them, and, I suppose, because I really don’t know what they “should” look like. It’s fun to see what else happens as I paint this theme again and again. While I was working on the emerald rainbow, Sandy was painting an image inspired by the verse about mounting up on eagle’s wings. She is a great painter, and it’s always fun to see what she comes up with!

 

Sandy Beegle's painting

Sandy Beegle’s painting

As soon as I have definite info on how you can find this music, I’ll post it here for y’all.

Sandy and Mollie

Advertisements

Art, College, And Philanthropy

A round peg in a square hole – have you ever thought of yourself this way? Most artists and creative people are “different,” to put it politely. But really, we’re all unique, aren’t we? Still, I remember wanting desperately to be a lot more like my peers in elementary school. Eventually, I went to an art college (Kansas City Art Institute), and learned to be nearly as “different” as my classmates. No conformists among us, no sir!

That's Caleb on the right, with his sister and brother, at one of his favorite events: a baseball game.

That’s Caleb on the right, with his sister and brother, at one of his favorite events: a baseball game.

My artist husband, Scott, and I had 5 children, and all of them have unique talents and are blessed with difference, as well. Our youngest son opted to ride a unicycle (as well as 2 of his siblings) for the sheer fact of making sure he was not like his bike-riding friends. But our firstborn, Caleb, has another distinction: he is disabled.

I realize that many, many people have disabilities. It’s a wonder of our age that people are able to live and often flourish in the present day who would once have died or been pushed to the outermost fringes of existence. Caleb is one such young man. During his birth, Caleb was without oxygen for a time, which resulted in epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and partial blindness. Thanks to medications, his seizure activity was kept to a minimum during childhood. He has been off of the medication for several years now.

Caleb helps with church ministries on campus and off.

Caleb helps with church ministries on campus and off.

As a young child, Caleb had some very high quality care. Later, our options thinned out considerably, and I ended up home schooling him. Thanks to that, he is able to read and is proficient on a computer. Because his issue is in his brain, Braille is not a workable option for Caleb, but we did not know this when he was young. His school wanted to teach him Braille, and I continued with it for a year or so. However, if not for me, he may never have learned adequate print reading skills.

The fact is that Caleb simply did not “fit” any of the existing programs as he was being educated. To his sighted friends, he seemed clearly disabled. To his blind and visually impaired peers, and compared to those with various other disabilities we knew, he was the “highest functioning.” That made Caleb feel like he “should” be able to do things he saw others do. But “normal” activities were very taxing and burdensome for him. He later went to a “regular” high school and graduated with average grades.

Caleb sofa

Caleb is now 28 years old. He has been in school every year since before his first birthday. His disabilities prevent him from taking more than 2 or 3 classes at a time. He has been a senior at Colorado State University for the past few years, and may complete his degree next year. He is very happy about the possibility to earn a living in his field, which is natural resources. However, he has run into a problem.

A nice chunk of Caleb’s tuition for the past few years has been paid by a government agency, the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. He’s had some wonderful case workers, and some not so great. But none of them have stuck around. It seems they never can quite keep up with the workload. Recently, Caleb got a new case worker.

The timing of this change was unfortunate; Caleb was attempting to connect with the new case worker during the time when she needed to assist him in applying for coverage of his spring 2014 tuition. She did not do it in time, and the deadline passed. Now, Caleb is in need of some other kind of assistance in order to continue with school. Caleb may be 28 years old and living on his own, but I am still his mother.

I have set up a fund-raising page for Caleb, and if you click here, you can see it. I am donating a painting (that has gotten a lot of great attention) to the cause. For every donation of $25, one entry will be made for the donor into a draw for the painting, “All About The Ladder.” The drawing will happen if and when the full amount is raised, and we’re now over half way there.

"All About The Ladder" by Mollie Walker Freeman

“All About The Ladder” by Mollie Walker Freeman

I’m not generally supportive of everyone who has a financial crisis going to the internet to try to get their friends to bail them out. This is something worth doing, I believe. Okay, perhaps I’m a bit biased? Either way, if you want to donate to Caleb, we’ll all appreciate it greatly.

 

Abiding In The Vine

It’s Independence Day in America, and I’m wondering how it got to be this late in the year. July 4th is kind of a big deal here. We are celebrating the “birthday” of our country, the day upon which our famous document, The Declaration of Independence, was signed. I grew up watching community fireworks celebrations, and I never missed a single year until recently. It was pouring rain in our town, so the festivities were postponed for a day or two a couple of years ago.

 

"Grapes" by Mollie Walker Freeman

“Grapes” by Mollie Walker Freeman

So, how did it get to be July already? The thing is, I seem to always be sideswiped by the month of May. Do the dozens of concerts, plays, induction ceremonies, awards ceremonies, graduation parties, bridal showers, birthdays, etc. in May make you feel your are on a carnival ride and cannot get off? That is how it can feel to me.

This May, we had a crisis thrown into the traditional mix. My husband, Scott had his appendix burst, and spent about a week in the hospital. The day of his surgery was the day of my kids’ dress rehearsal for a concert, as well as my daughter’s receipt of a “letter,” neither of which she was allowed to miss for any reason.

"True Vine" by Mollie Walker Freeman

“True Vine” by Mollie Walker Freeman

I managed to keep myself together, with the support of my family and friends, during this time. But, all the stress and insanity of schedule eventually took its toll. I was stressed out!

In times of intense stress, it’s good to be reminded that I am not alone. We are not alone. I had the opportunity to paint in a couple of church services during May and June. Both times, I felt inspired to paint grape vines. In the book of John, we are told that branches which bear fruit will be pruned, and this is a good thing. Come to think of it, it did sort of feel like someone was whacking away at me! Jesus also tells us that remaining (abiding) in the vine (God and His love) is the only way to bear fruit. He also calls us “friends.”

my grapevine

This is the grapevine in my garden, laden with small, still-green grapes.

Sometimes it’s not so easy to remember just how close God actually is. That He actually invites me to live “in” Him. Thinking about these verses and what they mean has helped me through this difficult time. Now, my grape vine is producing grapes. Every day as I walk through my garden, I can be reminded of the True Vine, my source of life.

 

 

Value Added: A Mural For Lake Providence

Meaningful, life-enhancing work is the best kind of work there is. In fact, it’s the only work that interests some of us. Perhaps it’s the only kind of work that yields long term rewards. This is the kind of work I witnessed in Lake Providence, Louisiana earlier this month.

LP friends-scaffold

Lake Providence is small and located in a beautiful spot along the Mississippi River, near Arkansas and Mississippi. Last week, it was sunny and warm, mostly. Spring flowers were everywhere, and if you know me at all, you know this thrilled me! Just before we had arrived, the town had received 6 inches of rain in a single day, and many residential yards and roads were flooded. It did not seem to be much of a problem for anyone, though. No one there has basements, and they seem to be generally prepared for lots of water.

Sunset over Lake Providence

Sunset over Lake Providence

So, why did 20 or so people from Colorado spend a week in Lake Providence creating a huge mural on the side of an old building? Well, it’s a long story, so I’ll just hit a few points in this little post. Bottom line is that we have found some people we love there. These folks have had a sometimes difficult and discouraging history, being identified by Time Magazine as the “poorest place in America” in 1994, and having that label quoted again and again since then. It has also picked up the label “most unequal place in America,” though I’d be hard pressed to single out this town from all the other racially tense communities in the South.

Sometimes people seem satisfied to live with the negative aspects of their lives, but when they are ready to move on, to move toward positive change, they benefit from the support of others. I have many close relatives in the deep South, and am quite familiar with the “issues” that exist there. Yet, what I saw last week gave me renewed hope that some folks are ready to do the hard work of participating in a paradigm shift.

Southern hospitality = food!

Southern hospitality = food!

While working on the mural, we were treated like royalty in Lake Providence. The locals, black and white alike, cheered us on, fed us, showed us the beauty of their town, fed us some more, engaged us in conversation and laughter, and then fed us again! We ate at local restaurants, including a favorite among us called “My Dream Eatery,” which actually catered several meals for us as we worked.

As small as L.P. is, in a way it’s expanding its horizons as the world around it shrinks. Ease of technology and travel has made it possible for a true relationship to develop between some citizens of Loveland, Colorado and this little town far away. The pastor of my church, Jonathan Wiggins, was once employed by Providence Church in L.P., where his father in law, Don Boyett, is pastor.

During the past couple of years, Pastor Wiggins and Pastor Boyett have fostered new friendships between the members of their two churches. Quite a few folks have taken plane rides across the country- in both directions – to further those relationships. But it doesn’t stop there. Other people are reaching out from this pool of friends and including people from other churches and organizations from both Lake Providence and northern Colorado.

LP finished!

“Destiny Words”

The mural is called “Destiny Words.” It was inspired by a project using “value words” by painting positive words on parking spaces in another town, which was followed by a decrease in crime and other positive trends. When Aubrey Grieser, from Colorado and now living in Lake Providence, heard about this project, she arrived at the idea of this mural. The mural speaks words of  positive change and a new identity over the town of Lake Providence. (Aubrey is the director of Love Your Community – The Delta/Lake Providence, which can be found on Facebook.)

LP dance boys 2

But, what’s “in it” for me? Each of the artists and family members went to L.P. on our own time, and our own “dime.” We raised support, and some of you readers helped me do this by purchasing paintings. Some of us have the type of work that does not pay when we are not on the job, so it cost us in this way, also. But the opportunity to be involved in something that can steer history in a positive direction, something we believe God is doing, is worth every cent and every minute. And who can put a price on a friend?

That's me, painting the mural with my good friend, Sandy.

That’s me, painting the mural with my good friend, Sandy.

I have the feeling that this is really just the beginning of what we’ll see in Lake Providence, and in this friendship. A larger group from Resurrection Fellowship will be going to Lake Providence this summer for the second annual dance camp with the kids of L.P.

If you want to read more about the relationship between Loveland and Lake Providence, here’s an article for you (just click here!) Also, here is a website created for the mural, and on-going activity that springs from the project (click here).

LP UR Loved

 

Portrait Of A Story: The Art Of Frances Power Judd

"Goya's Best Night" by Frances Power Judd

“Goya’s Best Night” by Frances Power Judd

The best artists I know draw me into a story. Even if it’s a conceptual or abstract work, the narrative at work captures my interest. Or not, in which case, the work is uninteresting. Sometimes the story is about the medium or materials; it can even be about the history of the piece itself.

Representational art has not always been in vogue, of course. But as my friend, Fran Judd pointed out, one of the great things about being an artist today is that there is not one prevailing style that is dominating the art scene or the affections of the public. So, while materialism and the minimalism and all of those non-representational “isms” have had their day, we artists are now – finally! – free to express ourselves through any visual style we choose. Even portraits are once again an acceptable expression.

FP0_8012-ZF-2674-04025-1-001-002

That is good for Fran, who began painting after leaving corporate life, a mere 6 years ago. “I love painting people!” says Fran, “but I’ve never painted an actual person.” Looking around her lovely studio, I did not see a single painting, with the exception of the new abstract she recently began, that did not include a person. Each painting is unique in emotional and visual tone and coloration; each character tells a tale. Some are humorous, some dream-like, some haunting.

During November and December of last year, Fran had a show of her paintings at Artworks Studios here in Loveland. The show was a collaborative effort with poet Lynn Kincanon, who wrote poetry in response to Fran’s images. The two women also put together a book with the same title as the show, “Evocation.” The book was facilitated and assembled by local photographer Bob Campagna. The show featured dozens of portraits – all from the imagination of the artist, all painted in acrylic glazes on sandpaper.

Image from "Evocation" by Fran Judd

Image from “Evocation” by Fran Judd

I attended the opening of that show, and reflected that some of the figures reminded me of Marc Chagal, some of Emil Nolde. But mostly, I found the images transcendent, drawing me into some narrative unknown, leaving me to imagine what had happened or would happen.

"One" by Frances Power Judd

“One” by Frances Power Judd

As I talked with Fran in her studio, I could hardly imagine her as anything but a painter. Surrounded by paintings, including a floor canvas in front of the sofa, the whole room was warmed by the faces and colors I saw. Indeed, Fran was educated in art history and did not begin painting at all until she was living in Loveland. Yet painting had always been her desire.

Inspired by (no surprise here!) Gauguin, van Gogh and the Fauves, Fran began her painting career in our little town, where artists inspire and cooperate with one another every day. “I love having a studio here at Artworks. Even though it can be distracting, it’s so nice having these other artists dropping in. They are really supportive. It’s sad; several people will be leaving soon.”

The artist's studio

The artist’s studio

Even with so much going on in the arts here in town, it’s still tough to make it all work. Loveland is not yet a hot spot for art buyers, so we artists have to figure out how to support ourselves. So, while Fran is excited about the direction of her new work, she’s not sure what the details of her creative future will be.

“I really like working bigger,” says Fran of the 4″ x 5″ abstract piece she is working on. “I’m not sure it will stay abstract, but that’s what I’m trying now.” She told me of her desire to be more linear, fluid and loose – more fun, “not so serious.” Then, Fran told me how she got the large canvas, and also another one, the same size.

FP0_8016-ZF-2674-04025-1-001-003

“Early this year, I was in the hospital for a few days. When I got back to my studio, there were these two big canvases, with bows on them. The other artists here had gotten them for me.” She smiled as she recalled the gift that is now a part of her story, that she will use to create another visual story. And so it goes. Thanks for sharing your story, Fran!

photos of Fran Judd taken by Lee Freeman, Freeman Photography

photos of Fran Judd taken by Lee Freeman, Freeman Photography

Art Mission Trip Sale

"Waiting" by Mollie Walker Freeman, 20" x 26" on board

“Waiting” by Mollie Walker Freeman, 20″ x 26″ on board

Art sitting in my studio is not usually seen by many people, and so, I like to get it into the hands of someone who will enjoy it. When I know that one of my paintings is hanging in the home of a friend, even if I’ve only just met this person (a new friend, then) I am satisfied that it is fulfilling its intended purpose.

This spring, I have the opportunity to help make some art that has the potential to be seen by many people and to have a positive impact on an entire community. In fact, it is possible that this piece of artwork could influence multiple communities that could use some encouragement.

"Grace and Truth" worship painting by Mollie Walker Freeman. 17" x 25" on board

“Grace and Truth” worship painting by Mollie Walker Freeman. 17″ x 25″ on board

My husband and I plan to participate in a mission trip to a small town in the South where poverty and racial tensions have cast an oppressive shadow for generations. We will be working with citizens of the town to create a mural that features images from the positive and uplifting aspects of the community, along with a series of words like “Hope,” “Courage” and “Impact.” We will be working with a church from our hometown, as well as churches from the town which is hosting us.

"Unity - A Prayer" by Mollie Walker Freeman, 30" x 30" on canvas

“Unity – A Prayer” by Mollie Walker Freeman, 30″ x 30″ on canvas

Of course, this mural alone cannot be expected to effect the change that folks are wanting. This project is part of an on-going relationship between our 2 towns, and between numerous churches and individuals. We are all learning from and encouraging each other, because in these days of inter-connectedness, we are able to be a help to each other in greater ways than ever.

"Throne Room" by Mollie Walker Freeman, 20 1/2" x 26 1/2" on board

“Throne Room” by Mollie Walker Freeman, 20 1/2″ x 26 1/2″ on board

Over the past couple of years, there have been town soft ball games, picnics, camps for kids, and all sorts activities with a focus on building relationships and making the town a place where people can feel welcome. There have also been plenty of practical projects, like getting hundreds of kids outfitted with school supplies. And I have the feeling God’s just getting warmed up.

"Hiding Place" by Mollie Walker Freeman, 22" x 28" on canvas

“Hiding Place” by Mollie Walker Freeman, 22″ x 28″ on canvas

In order to pay my travel expenses, I am selling the paintings I have created during worship services. I’d like to say that I’m offering them at a special price, but that’s not exactly the case. I always sell these paintings at a “special” price, because if a person believes that God has reached him or her through the painting, and wants to own the painting for that reason, I want this person to have the painting. So, my prices for these pieces are “suggested.” I have taken as little as $50, and as much as twice my asking price. I tell people that what they pay for the piece is between them and God.

"Gardener" by Mollie Walker Freeman, 24" x 30" on canvas, gallery wrapped (does not need frame)

“Gardener” by Mollie Walker Freeman, 24″ x 30″ on canvas, gallery wrapped (does not need frame)

What makes this opportunity a bit different is that I am extending this offer to you, my readers, as well. I will sell any of the paintings posted here for any price between $50 and $400, provided that you ask God what you should pay. He has always provided my needs, and I trust He will continue to do so. This is my way of funding a trip to help others, so if you purchase a painting, that is what you will be contributing to. Do keep in mind that I will also need you to cover shipping costs if you do not live within driving distance of northern Colorado. (I should mention that these prices are far below my studio work, because it is painted much more quickly.)

All of the paintings in this post are unframed. Some are painted on composite board,  some are on canvas. All are done with re-purposed house paint. Sizes are noted.

If you would like to participate in this fundraiser, please send me a message by commenting, and I will answer you. Thanks!

New Year, New Paintings

9 degrees Fahrenheit – that’s what my phone is currently showing for my town of Loveland, Colorado! And it’s the middle of the day! (The postman, a true Coloradoan, is walking by in his shorts.) It is January, after all, so I’m not surprised or complaining. Neither am I inspired to go out to the studio to work. However, I have been able to do a few pieces elsewhere.

"Hmmm..." by Mollie Walker Freeman

“Hmmm…” by Mollie Walker Freeman

Scott and I had the privilege of giving a demonstration of our painting techniques a couple of weeks ago at the Loveland Museum Gallery here in town. It was really fun to see so many friends turn out to support us that evening! If you were there, thanks again for coming – it just would not be nearly as fun without you! We brought along our camera, so we would be able to document the event. You’re supposed to do that, you know? Unfortunately, we did not remember to shoot any photos until we got back home.

However, I thought I’d show you the painting I did that night. I have to say that I received several great suggestions during the demonstration.That is partly because many of the folks who were there are sculptors, painters, photographers or other artists. Gary Alsum, thanks for your insights! David Boyd, I added the ring at your suggestion after you left. Hope you like it!

"Living Stones" by Mollie Walker Freeman

“Living Stones” by Mollie Walker Freeman

The second piece I will show you is one I did during a church service at Resurrection Fellowship. I am calling it “Living Stones,” which you may recognize from I Peter 2:5. I wanted to paint this concept, but was not very happy with the result. But, this was a perfect example of God using something less-than-great to do great things. Several people commented afterward that the painting was truly meaningful to them, and they had their own interpretations as to the meaning of the picture. (This is why I do this, folks!)

"Waiting" by Mollie Walker Freeman

“Waiting” by Mollie Walker Freeman

The last painting in today’s post is also from a church service. I’m calling it “Waiting.” I don’t know if you can tell from the photo, but the color came out very nicely in this one. There was also good feedback with this piece.  I always love hearing what others see in the images I make. I really consider myself to be just the deliverer of the art that already exists in the mind of the true Creator. Have you ever read “Walking on Water” by Madeleine L’Engle? There are all sorts of wonderful thoughts about art and artists and God in this book, and the aforementioned idea is one I first heard articulated in this book. Check it out!

A Tale Of Two Christmas Paintings

“How long did that take you to paint?” I am often asked this question. Even a painting done in public, during a specified time period, may take more time than it would seem.  I have watched numerous painters working in public who begin the work in their studios, and merely take the work-in-progress with them to the gig and paint a little while there. Usually, the piece is not yet complete when the event is over, so the painting is then taken back to the studio to finish.

painting at x-mas tea

While I do prepare a canvas or board ahead of time, usually with many layers of textured paint, I always aim to finish each piece during the allotted time, so that the audience has the opportunity to see the finished work. Sometimes, someone wants to purchase the finished product, and this usually works out just fine for me. Occasionally, this is not the result. Sometimes, the painting needs just a bit more time. At times, I step back from the picture I have created and see that standing so close has caused me to make an unpleasant drawing error. And, there are times when it’s worse than that.

A couple of weeks ago, I painted for a local holiday gathering. I began with an image of the 3 wise men, situated in a darkened landscape. The famous star was hanging expectantly in the night sky. It was lovely, just the way it was. But the plan was for me to turn the canvas (making it verticle) and then paint the Madonna and Child. I had a good reference and an hour of painting time, so I was optimistic. An hour is longer than I usually have, and I often have just half that amount, so I wasn’t worried.

Those of you who have performed on stage in any capacity know that things happen, things you do not expect, and “the show must go on!” The ladies were late wandering into the room and seating themselves, so the hostess wanted to delay the start of the program. It would be a shame for anyone to miss anything, right? I still wasn’t worried.

With only 45 minutes left to paint,I began. I had trouble pretty much the entire time. I could not seem to get the colors I wanted. The reference was too small, and the details were hard to interpret. Still, I thought I had done okay, and the painting was sold. Half of the money from the sale went to a charitible cause, so I was happy. Until I saw the photo later that day.

"Star of Bethlehem"- painted during service at Resurrection Fellowship by Mollie Walker Freeman

I realized that the drawing was not awesome; I felt terrible about having sold a piece that should have been better executed. I thought about contacting the new owner to see if I could take the painting back and “fix it up.” Yet, this is one of the reasons I charge much less for a painting I do on stage – I spend much less time on it, and it’s not the same kind of piece on which I spend days or weeks. It left me wondering if I should give up live painting altogether…

Fortunately, the season is busy, and I didn’t have time to ponder this too much. I was “back in the saddle” the next  weekend. I had in mind to paint the night scene with the three kings again, but it just didn’t feel right. When the service began, I still didn’t know what I would do. A woman had talked with me just before the service, and had prayed that God would inspire me.

I began with a sort of glowing, round light, as from a street lamp. I was using a technique in which I use pieces of paper, adhering them to the canvas with paint, creating a nice texture. I began to afix triangular pieces, arranging them around the circle of light. It became a large star, and I liked the end result quite a bit. In fact, my husband also liked it, and it became our Christmas card for this year (sort of). We actually decided to make bookmarks to enclose with our annual holiday letters. We were really running short on time, so this was a way of simplifying. And, we thought some people would appreciate something they could use to mark a book.

x-mas letters & bookmarks

Perhaps, in the near future, no one will send paper anything any more. But as long as paper cards are sent at Christmas time, I suppose we two artists will continue to send them. I’m happy that at least one of my Christmas paintings could bring a little cheer. If you are the owner of the other one, just send me a message if the drawing starts to bother you, and we can work something out. I can’t give you a refund, though. The money is already spent.

Human Beings Are A Fine Subject Matter

The human face is probably depicted more often in art than just about any other subject matter, don’t you think? I haven’t actually counted. But, think of the early drawings of any child. A gigantic face, usually featuring eyes and mouth, sometimes a nose and legs, and /or arms. Hair is optional. Even a 7 or 8 year old will often draw family members and pictures of himself more often than just about anything (except for maybe robots or Spiderman). Although, I once had a 4-year-old son who drew nothing but cellos for months…but that’s another story!

Mother's Day card by Lee Freeman

Mother’s Day card by Lee Freeman

 

"Portrait of Dmitry V. Golitsyn" by George Dawe, circa 1825

“Portrait of Dmitry V. Golitsyn” by George Dawe, circa 1825

The earliest cave paintings and such depict animals and hunters. Early iconic church art usually focuses on Madonna and Child, saints, and Biblical figures. Greek statues of people, often mythical characters, are well-know. Later, portraits were painted of wealthy and powerful people. Following that was a time when some artists took to the portrayal of “ordinary” citizens – soldiers, field workers, family members,etc. Impressionists such as Georges Seurat and Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted people “out and about,” as well as portraits. 20th century and contemporary sculptors from every corner of the world have made bazillions of pieces inspired by humanity. Even abstract expressionists such as Willem de Kooning painted people.

One of the dolls I made

One of the dolls I made

Humans, then, are a natural subject matter for art. When I was growing up, I was never a “girly-girl,” particularly. But strangely, I did love dolls. I collected more dolls as I grew older, and as an adult. I did not play with dolls in the “normal” way, however. I treated them more as aesthetic objects – art, I suppose. Eventually, I made a few dolls. I still have them around my house, and it makes me smile when I see one I especially like. To me, this fascination with dolls is somehow related to humans as artistic subject matter.

"Renee at Rest" by Mollie Walker Freeman

“Renee at Rest” by Mollie Walker Freeman

My husband and I often say, “Life is about relationship.” Relationships with people, messy as they can be, make life what it is, for better or worse. We long for those satisfying connections of companionship, intimacy, and understanding that can seem so illusive. We study our fellow humans to discover if a meaningful connection may be possible, and to discover why someone is charismatic or intriguing. Sometimes we are utterly disappointed by someone who seemed attractive; other times, we are pleasantly surprised to learn of beautiful qualities in a person once discounted as uninteresting. When fun or poignant interactions with others unfold, our lives are brighter and our experience deeper.

Kid art 2bl

Although I am not the most gifted painter of people, they remain one of my favorite subjects, both as a painter, and as an art appreciator. Human nature is a funny and interesting thing.

What’s Up With Jacob’s Ladder?

Timeless stories capture our attention and we return to them again and again. My daughter recently asked me and my husband what we thought about this phenomenon. “Why do people like stories so much?” We all took a stab at the answer. I think what we decided in the end is that human beings like the feeling of believing that they are part of a great story – greater even than life as we know it.

"Jacob's Ladder IV" by Mollie Walker Freeman

“Jacob’s Ladder IV” by Mollie Walker Freeman

The story of Jacob’s Ladder has enamored me for years. Before I professed, or ever thought I would profess any faith in God, I knew the song “Stairway to Heaven.” (I grew up in the 1970’s – didn’t we all know that song?) The idea of heaven touching earth, or mortals reaching through this reality into a greater, eternal reality is the stuff of myth, legend, and all manner of literature, right? And guess what? It’s right there in the Bible, too.

The story of the ladder, which Jacob saw in a dream, reaching into heaven is more than the text might first reveal. When Jesus showed up on the scene thousands of years later, He says something amazing about the ladder – only He does not say, “Jacob’s ladder.” He merely describes the same image, with Himself as the ladder. In the book of John, Jesus was talking to Nathanael, and told him that he would see great things, including, “angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (Son of Man was a way Jesus referred to Himself.)

"All About The Ladder" by Mollie Walker Freeman

“All About The Ladder” by Mollie Walker Freeman

Jacob had a really interesting life. He is known for “tricking” his older twin brother, Esau, out of his birthright. He deceived his blind father so that his father would give him the blessing of the firstborn. But, a few years ago, I attended a conference in which the story of Jacob was examined carefully. Until that time, I had not realized the lengthy period of disappointment and discouragement that Jacob lived through, though it’s right there in plain sight. It was not until the end of his long life – the last few years – that Jacob was able to see God’s long-term

"Jacob's Ladder VII" by Mollie Walker Freeman

“Jacob’s Ladder VIII” by Mollie Walker Freeman, currently on exhibit at the Loveland Museum Gallery

plan for his life, and how He had not only spared his son, Joseph, from death, but had placed him in such a way that he brought about “a great deliverance” for Jacob’s whole family, and they were all reunited.

Why did God give the young Jacob a vision of Jesus as the Stairway to Heaven? Did it help Jacob persevere through the many years of suffering that came after? Or was it just a way of showing us, all this time in the future, that He had it planned all along? I am fascinated by the story, and I really don’t have the answers to my own questions. But, in any case, I’ve painted the subject of Jacob’s Ladder at least 8 times. For me, it’s a way of reflecting on the idea that we are still longing for that connection with Heaven, and God is still reaching out toward us. One day, He will bust on through undeniably, and no one will wonder why.