In January 2018, I was invited to share my thoughts on what it means to be a "Beauty Maker" during chapel at our local Christian school.  This brief reflection summarizes my philosophy of art-making quite well, so I thought I would share it on my website as well!

Beauty Maker:  My thoughts on this topic stem from a lot of years of drawing, painting, teaching art classes, and simply being a daughter of God.   As I was reflecting on this topic, it became clear to me that a beauty maker is active.  The very word “maker” insinuates action.  In my life experiences, I have learned and I am still learning to actively develop the characteristics of a Beauty Maker. 

A Beauty Maker:

  • Understands and embraces his/her identity

    • Genesis says:  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… God created people in his own image, in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.

    • What do we notice about God’s actions in this passage?  He actively created a beautiful world.  We also notice that the crown of his creation were people.  What is so special about people?  We are created in his image.  Being created in his image means that we bear His characteristics.  What is the very first characteristic of God listed in scripture?  He is a creator.  If we are made in His image, then we, too, are creators.  Simply put:  We are created to create!  We possess His creative characteristics! 

    • Does that mean you are supposed to be a world-famous painter?  Possibly, but not necessarily.  There are lots of ways to be a creator:  You can design websites, build buildings and bridges, create solutions to problems, build friendships, sew quilts and clothes, or plant a garden, write a new song… or many many other things.

    • Another important characteristic of a beauty maker is that he/she…

  • Chooses to see beauty in the ordinary

    • The impressionists (a group of artists who began working in the 1860’s) were famous for painting very ordinary scenes.  They wanted to show the imperfect beauty of ordinary moments in life that passed by quickly.  This is a philosophy that has guided my artwork for many years.  When I take the time to really pay attention to the people and scenes around me, I see beauty.  When my kids are engaged whole-heartedly in an activity that they love, I see a beautiful mind working.  When the light shines strong and direct through the window and highlights their beautiful faces and casts strong shadows around them, I see beauty in that moment.  When I drive in the country, especially along gravel roads, the fields of corn and soybeans, the solitary farm houses and barns, the gently rolling hills, all capped with the expansive light blue sky, I see beautiful lines, textures, and colors.  When I see the sunlight bouncing off the water in a narrow creek with steep dark banks surrounded by vividly green pastures, I see beauty in the ordinary. 

    • But not everything I see or create might be considered beautiful.  What about the ugly things in life?  What about mistakes, pain, and sin?  Did God throw his hands in the air and give up on his creation when sin entered the world?  No!  He had a creative solution.  God incarnate was the solution.  He re-created himself and entered his creation as a child.  It was a gutsy and harsh move.  But we know that Jesus came to take the mess of sin and pain and make beauty from ashes. 

    • Since we hold God’s image within our souls, can we, too, make beauty from ashes?  Can we make something beautiful out of something ugly?  I believe so because a beauty maker…

  • Creates and re-creates

    • Quite a few years ago, I was working diligently on an oil painting on Masonite board.  Somewhere along the line, the painting went awry.  I was terribly unhappy with how it turned out.  However, there were two things that I liked about it:  the colors and the textures.  It was the composition that wasn’t working.  So, one day, I took the painting to my table saw in the garage and cut the entire thing up into two-inch squares.  Sounds harsh and gutsy.  But beauty-makers are like that.  I was confident that I could re-create that ugly painting into something beautiful by simply rearranging the squares of colors and textures into a new composition.  Ugly can be redeemed!  I was very happy with the results:  I called it re-creation.  Notice, without the hyphen, it spells recreation which essentially means having fun.  The title is a play on words:  I re-created the painting and I had a lot of fun doing it!

    • Another medium that I enjoy using is charcoal.  Did you know that one type of artist’s charcoal is simply made of a skinny vine fired in a kiln?  It is basically an ash stick.  One of my favorite recent charcoal drawings is of a gal who gradated from SCCS a few years ago.  In this sketch, I was trying to capture the simple beauty of how the light and shadow accentuate her facial features. The idea of taking ash (a stick of charcoal) and drawing something beautiful always captivates me. 

  • So, how can you, too, be a Beauty Maker?

    • Embrace your identity!  You were created to create!

    • Choose to see beauty in the ordinary! Pay attention!

    • Create and re-create!  Make something and don’t give up on it.