Egg Decorating In An Artists’ Home

Easter Eggs

Happy Resurrection Day from Loveland! I’m going to put up this quick little post on behalf of my hubby, Scott Freeman, because he wanted to share our egg decorating tradition with the world this year. Decorating Easter eggs is something we have done since we were both in art school, way back in the 1980s. We blow out the insides of the eggs, through tiny holes, and decorate the shells. We’ve been saving them for all these years, though plenty have broken by now.

1NM fb

Easter Eggs

Rooster egg by Scott

It seems Easter eggs are somewhat out of favor with some branches of Christian believers these days. There are notions about eggs and rabbits linked with false “gods” and such. Scott and I have made a careful study of these topics in past years. We did this partly out of curiosity, and because we just like to know stuff. We also did it because we both have a deep interest in being close to God, and living in a way that pleases Him, as much as we can. We feel that the main way to do this is to love Him and people. However, as artists, we sincerely wish to use our gifts to honor the God for whom we profess to live. Would you like to know what we found out?

Easter Eggs

A couple of eggs I painted

"Jonah" egg, by Scott

“Jonah” egg, by Scott

Easter Eggs

Humpty Dumpty and Cat eggs, by Scott

The most important conclusions we discovered are elaborated in this post (click here) from Scott’s blog, “Art And Life Notes,” which is also a WordPress blog. Suffice it to say that there is ample evidence to conclude that eggs are a part of the holiday not because of any link to any “god” at all, really. It is likely that there were simply an abundance of them to be eaten on Easter, for reasons which I do not fully recall. Some theorize that folks were not eating eggs during the season of Lent, so the eggs piled up. In any case, there is really not a shred of evidence that the traditional use of eggs was about pagan fertility, unless you count a lot of Christians saying that it’s “obvious.”

pug egg, by Scott

pug egg, by Scott

In the meantime, we continue to decorate eggs, and to enjoy doing so. I have posted several photos Scott used in his Facebook post, so you can take a look. If you are into egg decorating, Scott and I would love to see what you’ve been up to, too!

Advertisements

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

 

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!

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.

3 Favorite Painters

It’s so tough to choose only 3! There are SO many painters out there in the big world, and to tell the truth, most of them don’t really turn my head. Yet, it’s not easy to pin-point what, exactly, does get my attention. A color, a brushstroke, a feeling of light or expression – what is it?

Emil Nolde - watercolor

Emil Nolde – watercolor

Over the years, several painters have come to be my favorites. The first one to capture my artistic heart was Gauguin. I think it was the figures and playful use of color that I noticed. In college, I was enamored of Monet, like so many art students. But he never really garnered my appreciation until I saw the Waterlily paintings (2 of them, at least) in person. I was awestruck! This was partly because I had been trying to paint landscapes that year, and it was just so darned difficult to get what I wanted! But Monet – well, what can I say? The marks looked so careless, and somehow, an image emerged. And a lovely image, too.

Wolf Kahn landscape

Wolf Kahn landscape

Years after I finally finished art school, I found Wolf Kahn. I fell in love with his pastels, a medium I never expected to like so much. Kahn had a way of working from life, infusing his own vision and color sense, and making the whole seem

Wolf Kahn

Wolf Kahn

plausible, but more fun. His landscapes always seemed to be enfolding me in a brilliant mist. And, he seemed the perfect editor. For really the first time, I sought to emulate another artist (Kahn) in some way. Well. it may not seem at all obvious just how this artist influenced my work. I simply know that I was looking at his pictures and thinking about them for years as I worked.

More recently, I have taken a closer look at the works of Gustav Klimt. Famous for “The Kiss,” Klimt used many haunting figures and plenty of gold leaf and patterns, as well as his very own stylized perspective. His images seem narrative, yet not in an obvious fashion. I began to borrow some elements for my own paintings, deciding that some of his devices would work well for communicating the spiritual themes that come up in my own work. Besides, I’m attracted to the swirls, patterns, and sparkles.

"Hygieia" Gustav Klimt

“Hygieia” Gustav Klimt

 

"Tree of Life" Gustav Klimt

“Tree of Life” Gustav Klimt

Last, we come to Nolde. Though I studied his work briefly, and liked some of what I saw, going to Germany and seeing his studio and garden changed my life! The watercolors I saw were luscious – you cannot possibly feel the impact from the photos. I purchased a book of his “Unpainted Pictures.” I don’t think I will ever tire of looking at them. His life story, what I have heard of it anyway, is also fascinating.

Nolde seascape, watercolor

Nolde seascape, watercolor

So, I will end with that for today. I hope to interview a couple of my artist neighbors in the coming weeks, both of whom use re-purposed materials extensively. Can’t wait to visit them!

New Paintings From Church Services

Can I be a bit eclectic today? There are a few tidbits on my mind…

First, I want to answer a question I am often asked. It usually goes something like this: “When you paint in a service, do you know what you will do ahead of time? Or do you wait to be inspired on the spot?” If you are familiar with more “charismatic” styles of services, this question will make sense to you, especially. It’s not uncommon for some pastors or worship leaders to be somewhat spontaneous in the context of a regular service. A song, a prayer, or even a whole sermon may be said to be “Spirit led,” and the implication is often that it was unplanned.

Mollie, painting at Resurrection Fellowship in Loveland

Mollie, painting at Resurrection Fellowship in Loveland

I want you to know that many of us Jesus followers believe that we are being led by the Spirit of God, even when we plan far ahead what we will sing, say, or create. However, what I paint in any given service may be more or less planned, or thought out, or not at all. Other artists will have slightly different answers to this query.

I think I can say that I always pray about the service, if given any notice that I will be painting. Sometimes, I have in mind a verse of scripture or a specific image. Sometimes, I have in mind more of a mood, color scheme, or general attitude. There are times when I am not at all thrilled with the outcome of my painting; sometimes these are the very paintings that seem to reach someone in a really deep way. I do not despair over the paintings, even when I am not so happy with what I have put down.

Also, the leadership (of the churches in which I have worked) seems to have an understanding that “worship painting” is an uncertain art, uncharted territory, if you will. The pastors and musicians on the various teams are extremely supportive of the artists, which I appreciate.

Now, I’ll show you a couple of new pieces. The first one, I have called,

"Yeshua, My Salvation"       "Salvation comes from the Lord" - Jonah 2:9

“Yeshua, My Salvation”  worship painting by Mollie Walker Freeman        “Salvation comes from the Lord” – Jonah 2:9

“Jeshua, My Salvation.” I was thinking a lot about the names “Joshua” and “Jeshua,” and how (I’m told) they mean the same thing, “the Lord is my salvation.” I love that  Jesus’s name says that He is my salvation. I have a strong awareness of my necessity for a savior, feeling keenly that I am unable to save myself. His very name is a reminder that He’s got it covered. The lamb in the painting was a reflection on the sacrifice that He made in order to become my salvation. The Hebrew word you see is my attempt to copy the word “Jeshua.”

The second painting here was painted this past weekend (September 7, 2013). The thought behind this one is a little more vague; I was drawn to the image, which I saw in a copyright-free reference book of old artwork.

"Take Aim" worship painting by Mollie Walker Freeman

“Take Aim” worship painting by Mollie Walker Freeman   “He made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in His quiver.” Isaiah 49:2

Together- Why The Church Needs Art

Let me first be clear- this is my opinion. Because my husband is also an artist, he and I have had this discussion on more than one occasion. “People don’t need art,” he will say. “People need plumbers and teachers, food and cars, but not art.” My opinion is that people need art, or rather, any people group cannot sustain itself without art. It’s an interesting topic to which there may be no definitive answer; but this post is actually about a slightly narrower topic.

"Together- the Prayers of the Churches" worship painting by Mollie Walker Freeman. The different colors represent different churches, and the smoke is the Biblical idea of incense representing prayer.

“Together- the Prayers of the Churches” worship painting by Mollie Walker Freeman. The different colors represent different churches, and the smoke is the Biblical idea of incense representing prayer.

I think that the church needs art, perhaps now more than ever, if we really want to reach the spirits of the people who set foot in our buildings, as well as those we touch in the community at large. We could debate the word “need.” However, if you are familiar with the Biblical idea of “the body” (the church universal), you will remember that each part is considered essential- eyes, hands, head- you get the idea. Along with this idea is the recognition that each person is given certain “gifts” by God, and that each gift can be used for the benefit of other people. Each is important.

What may be less obvious is that the first spiritual gift actually mentioned in the Bible is during the construction of the first tabernacle, when God enables Bezalel to make all sorts of things from bronze and other materials. He was the first mentioned artist, which I think is really cool!

Now, we have music and art in churches, and this is certainly not new. What is new is that we humans are overwhelmed with input via media and technology. One result of this is that when you take the average person, especially one who is not particularly inclined to sit and listen to someone stand on a platform and talk about anything for any length of time, and expect him to engage with a long church sermon, his eyes are apt to glaze over.

I know this first hand because, although I am interested, indeed, in nearly every potential sermon topic, my eyes are also apt to glaze over. I’m tired, sleepy even, and I’ve already been inundated with media, no matter what the time of day.

"Grace and Truth" worship painting by Mollie Walker Freeman. Done at Resurrection Fellowship during a service with a teaching about grace and truth, from the book of Revelation, by Pastor Jonathan Wiggins

“Grace and Truth” worship painting by Mollie Walker Freeman. Done at Resurrection Fellowship during a service with a teaching about grace and truth, from the book of Revelation, by Pastor Jonathan Wiggins

Art has the ability to reach past the language (intellectual) part of the brain and go straight to the soul. And it is truly amazing what people tell me and other artists who serve in churches about what they “see” in the pieces of artwork. (This happens with music and dance, as well.) Sometimes, the artwork can set off a whole chain of thought that can bring about forgiveness or healing of some kind or peace about a situation. My firm belief is that it is God who is directing this phenomenon.

The 2 paintings I’m posting today are very recent (one from this weekend). Numerous conversations resulted from these works, valuable interactions. Ultimately, church is all about relationships. I think art makes possible communication and relationship on a deeper level.

Do you have experience with art that is spiritual in nature? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

A Different Expression: Art as Worship

For those of you who grew up attending traditional Christian churches like I did, and if you haven’t been back to church in a while, I have to tell you that things have changed. Of course, there are churches where things look and feel much the same as when I was a child in the 1960’s and 70’s. But, there’s more.

Risen Jesus, painting by Mollie Walker Freeman

Risen Jesus, painting by Mollie Walker Freeman

More diversity is the first thing that comes to mind. There are “traditional” services offered in some churches; but there are also “contemporary” styles of worship. There are Sunday morning church services; but you may also attend a regular service on a Saturday evening, Friday, or even such strange times as Wednesday or Thursday evening. You can go to a church building, watch on T.V., or live stream via internet. Church buildings may look traditional, or may be “Butler buildings,” coffee shops, or something else.

My favorite part of this diversity is the variation of expression in worship. When my kids were little, we became involved with a dance school near Kansas City that was all about dance as worship. Dance had been frowned upon for a long time, in general, by certain church populations, and it was exciting to be a part of a sort of new wave of artistic expression that was slowly being re-examined by Jesus-followers.

Jerusalem, painting by Mollie Walker Freeman

Jerusalem, painting by Mollie Walker Freeman

Now, it’s not uncommon to see dance in a church, especially a contemporary style. Music still has a prominent role, which I love. It’s also becoming more typical to see visual art displayed in a church. A few churches also include visual art and painting as a part of a worship service. This is a relatively new phenomenon, and sometimes it can add a lot, I think, to the worship experience. All of the work you see in this post was painted during worship services.

Spirit/Doves, painting by Mollie Walker Freeman

Spirit/Doves, painting by Mollie Walker Freeman

I am a part of a large church here in Loveland, Resurrection Fellowship, also known as “Rez.” I was asked to come and paint during a conference a little over 2 years ago, and my husband, Scott painted a choreographed piece for the Easter services a few years ago. Since those humble beginnings, Rez has reached the point of including painting and visual art in nearly every service! I am blessed to be part of a whole, awesome team of artists who serve in this way regularly. Rez has also hosted a few special events, such as art shows, that showcase visual art. Thanks, Rez! (Special thanks to Pastor Jonathan Wiggins, Pastor Kaitlyn Scott, Pastor Diane Blanco, and Jorie Henderson.)

Worship paintings from Convergence conference & Heaven Fest, currently on display at Grace Place Church in Berthoud, Colorado

Worship paintings from Convergence conference & Heaven Fest, currently on display at Grace Place Church in Berthoud, Colorado

The New Jerusalem, painting by Mollie Walker Freeman

The New Jerusalem, painting by Mollie Walker Freeman

My preferred method of re-purposing paints and materials for art works really well for me in this context. There are also other artists who use re-purposed materials for this type of art; but for today, I’m just posting my own paintings, simply because I have not yet taken photos of the others’ work. As always, more to come…

Making Cool Stuff From Old Stuff

In my town, there is a small downtown area that, while not as quaint as some idyllic little towns, is still pretty appealing to me. My children were taking dance lessons in this downtown area, which is so close to my home that we can walk there in a matter of minutes.

Eventually, I became the window decorator, as the facility had quite a long front window which needed a display of some sort. Dance studios seem never to have much of a budget, so someone pointed me to the local recycle center where I could pick up house paint that others no longer wanted. I was painting a piece of fabric that was about 20 feet long (Oh joy!)

Some of the re-purposed paint & canvases in my studio

Some of the re-purposed paint & canvases in my studio

Never having used latex house paint before, I wasn’t sure what I had signed up for, exactly. It turned out to be so perfect for the way I like to paint that I have adopted house paint as my primary medium. Occasionally, I have to purchase a particular color at the store (like a good black). Usually, I get all my paint at the recycle center.

People also give me used canvases (as long as they haven’t been painted upon with oils). Most often, a used canvas is perfect for me because I always build up the surface of my paintings by painting one picture over another until I have about 7 layers in all. I like the texture that is created; and it gives me a chance to practice all sorts of ways to make marks and apply colors.

"How Long" by Mollie Walker Freeman, painted with re-purposed house paint, otherwise known as "watermedia"

“How Long” by Mollie Walker Freeman, painted with re-purposed house paint, otherwise known as “watermedia”

I love that people can make art from what might have become trash. I also love to cook with bits of food that others might throw out. (I think there’s a spiritual parallel here.)

Thanks for stopping by today! More to come…