Art as Prayer, Flexing the Faith Muscle with a Paintbrush

People ask me how I get my colors? Which pigments I use? Why my paintings seem to glow so?

The answer may surprise you.

Art as Prayer, My Studio Practice

I have a sacred relationship with my easel. Standing at my easel, I think of myself as a blank canvas for the Creator.

To me the act of painting is my way of praying. What I pray for is peace. Mostly I listen. I don’t know what color goes where, or which ones to use. I ask the Creator to show me.

One by one, the colors reach out and attract my eye. One by one, I place them where they belong. As if replacing them in a jig-saw puzzle turned up-side down and backwards by life itself.

My daily practice of painting feels humbling and exhilarating.

I await instructions before I begin painting. When the Creator speaks quickly, my hand darts rapidly without thinking. My brush looks like an EKG needle stroking art beats across the page.

When the Creator says stop, I stop.

When it slows, I walk to the stool across the room and rest. As in music, this resting part is a critical part of the rhythm of the Creator’s voice.

Learning the rhythm, how to wait for the downbeat, when to go up tempo, takes many years of practice. Practice does not necessarily make perfect. Perfect is not the point.

Practice is the point. Period. How to accept the Creator’s gifts freely?

Practicing with each stroke to find the gift in each is the biggest challenge. Practicing this flexes the faith muscle. Faith grows stronger. (My confirmation name was Faith, I got it from my Aunt Agnes.) Faith develops resiliency and flexibility. She finds the dark days seem easier to navigate.

Practicing Prayer through he’ART

I found  three paintings from the garden when I was cleaning out a cabinet in the studio. Looking at them again nearly five years after Dad’s passing, I remembered it was the week after Dad died when I’d painted them.

I noticed something else too. Looking at them, I no longer felt sad. I feel glad I painted them. I feel humbled. I am glad I took the time to paint that day. I had no idea the terrible dark paintings would come back and lift me up so.

I feel honored. I feel proud to have been his eldest daughter, had such a long relationship of 60 years with him. And peace, most of all I feel peace. I feel peace in knowing his guidance in creativity, art, and life brought me to this peaceful place.

I believe you can see this place of peace and joy in my art now. The paintings at the top of the page are my newest prayers. Painting them feels like being a girl again. I call them Joy’s Garden.

This spring I am hosting a very special Art as Prayer Retreat, I invite you to join me. We’ll be painting in some of my favorite painting locations near my home in Mathews County, Virginia.  For twenty years, I’ve painted remote beaches, private gardens, coastal marsh sanctuaries, and villages. I invite you to come try using art as prayer. You don’t have to be an expert at art, just willing to pray.

Learn more about my Virginia Art as Prayer Retreat