This painting is unique in so many ways. It’s the most recent one that I’ve completed, and I don’t even have a name for it yet (I’m totally open to suggestions, just comment them below!).
The inspiration for this painting was more a feeling than anything else. I’d been in a darker state of mind for a couple of weeks, and things were finally feeling lighter and more hopeful one evening. I was wrestling who I am in Christ. That I’m forgiven and dearly loved by Him. That I’m perfectly righteous in His sight, and belong in His presence. These thoughts tempted my heart to glorious hope, yet I wrestled because they seem too good to be true.
So, like I often do, I turned to painting to help me process and understand these things. I was seeing glimpses of hope, yet struggled to fully believe them. Thoughts of a dawn and newness circulated through my mind—thoughts of spring struggling to be birthed from the gray of winter.
I had a picture on my phone of a flower covered in dew, in sharp focus, with flowers out of focus in the background. I thought it was lovely, and it matched what I was feeling, so I based the painting on that.
I painted it for a long time—over two months. It was a busy season for me, and I didn’t hurry or try to meet a deadline. It was born of many of my sister’s late night Dungeons and Dragons sessions, where I would turn one corner of the table into my painting corner as I listened to them talk about stories of warriors and ruined cities and rescuing dragon eggs. It was also born out of a park near our house right around sunset, where little ones kept asking what I was painting and telling me of the things they liked to draw and how they wished their mothers would let them paint more often.
One day, I stepped back and realized that I was done. I didn’t really want to add any words; the idea wasn’t really born from words. Also, in honesty, the background is detailed and I was scared that might mess it up if I tried to paint anything on top of it.
I plan to do a complement painting (with words) to hang next to it, with a light background and some of the same purples and blues. That is, if I ever find words that capture the feelings of the painting,. Something about the painting feels like a John Lucas song to me; soft acoustic with glimmers of hope and longing. I’ve also considered words from Isaiah 61:1-3, where the Lord speaks of the year of His favor, where He will bind up the brokenhearted and free the captives and give them an oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
Whatever I decide, I’ll likely do another blog post about it. Because, really, though the painting itself is finished, it’s story is not.
Though this painting strays from my normal style (even my normal inspiration) it still carries the idea of life being born out of death, beauty from pain. It even carries an unfinishedness about it, an expectation and longing, that parallels what I find in my own heart.
In our lives, we see glimpses of hope, seasons of joy, and pictures of light being born out of darkness. But there’s still an expectation and a longing for something more. The glimpses of life and beauty we see here direct our hearts to a coming kingdom, where we will see the substance of what all these shadows point to, and the newness and life that our hearts ache for.
C. S. Lewis describes in himself an “unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction.” There is beauty in our own unfinishedness, and joy found in longing for the kingdom Christ is bringing. So, friend, let us embrace the aching and the longing for His coming, because this longing draws us ever nearer to Him.