Art & Practicality

I recently finished up a 6-week acrylic painting class with instructor and painter, Bert Seabourn. I’ve loved his work since being introduced to it about a year ago, and my husband thought it was high time I take his class at City Arts in OKC. Bert is awesome. A color and composition genius. He works really hard at his craft – working at least 8 hours a day. He’s 82 years old now and he will tell you the best thing about this point in his career, is that 9 out of 10 paintings he creates are good. His skill is so consistent, that you can bet on a masterpiece every time he’s put down the last brush stroke of paint.

Awhile ago I was reading an interview with a very well-known and talented artist whose work I really admire. I won’t quote his name out of respect for him, but something he said really bugged me. The question was, “What does art do for the world?” His answer was puzzling. He said, “I don’t believe that art does anything for the world, just consume resources like every other human activity.” What??! I wholeheartedly disagree. Art can transcend cultural barriers. Art can move and inspire. Art can convey truth that sometimes words alone fail to do. Art is just as much a journey of discovery for the artist as it is for the viewer. How can that be in vain?

While I’m sure many can argue the practicality of art, for me personally it is an essential tool for discovering the world and the Creator. Without art, I would shrivel up, the world would seem dull and lonely. Without encountering and engaging beauty, I’m not sure that my faith would be so strong. This is why I’m seeking to improve my skills – so maybe I can communicate the holy creativity of God that much better. I may not be able to put in the hours that Bert does, but I’m certainly going to be disciplined to put in more than I have in the past.

Bert is someone that will contend for art and the practicality of it. Through his example, my love for art has grown even more. After ending the course, in between meeting so many new friends while talking and drinking wine and sangria, there was definitely a confirmation in the discovery that I love painting portraits. I have always been drawn to portraits. Actually, painting anything else feels like mundane work, but painting people – there is something so intimate, raw, familiar and spiritual about painting a human that keeps me coming back to it again and again.


An interest in the subject; something you want to say definitely about the subject; this is the first condition of a portrait. Completion does not depend on material representation. The work is done when that special thing has been said.
-Robert Henri, The Art Spirit


Anyway, these are a couple of mine that came out of the class. I hope to be painting while on the road this fall. I’m sure I will encounter plenty of beautiful subjects while on our travels. My hope is that our lives and stories will intertwine with many along the way, and much “impractical” art will come out of it.

On the Road Again, Naturally

I can’t help but laugh at how our time frame for living anywhere has gotten shorter and shorter. When 10 years ago the big dream for my life was to buy a nice large house and settle there for 30 years or so, now that that dream has changed drastically, along with our square footage. Even our last home in mid-town, which I was sure we would put down roots in, I felt in the first month that we moved in that I shouldn’t get too attached. A short year later, we moved downtown.

We’ve been in this missional community for almost 8 months now, and through prayer, we feel God is calling us on a new adventure. One that again, feels scary and weird and full of unknowns.


We are going on the road – and living in an RV.

We will have a home base in Tulsa where we have family, but will likely be living most of  life on the road, seeing the world God made, meeting new people and forming relationships for the non-profit we formed 2 years ago.

The world seems to me made to wander in, rather than to abide in one corner of it and never see what the rest has in store. -Henry Van Dyke



The Blue Flower is what I long for. I can think of nothing else. The place where I must abide is the place where the Blue Flower grows, and when the call comes, I must follow it. -The Blue Flower

There is a treasure of a book I read recently, an allegory called The Blue Flower. In it, the main character is given a glimpse of  a Blue Flower in a dream, the most beautiful one he has ever seen, and his heart is set on finding it.

I set out on my journey, and my home is at the end of the journey, wherever that may be. -The Blue Flower

This is an allegory for our faith – the kind of faith that forsakes all else for seeking the beauty that abides in it.

Jesus tells a similar parable of hidden treasure buried in a field, a man finds it, then sells everything he has to buy the land and get the treasure (Mt 13).

The RV is a step in this direction. Finding the treasure in the field. Knowing that it’s worth giving up comforts and permanence and lots of other things for. Finding beauty along the way, and teaching our children to do the same – and hopefully revealing more of the Father as we go. I don’t know how long we will have this lifestyle, and perhaps life overseas is next. I don’t know.

I’m just glad I follow a God that calls us out on the water for a really great adventure.

The Fasting and the Feast

I recently finished Jen Hatmaker’s book, “7 – An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” and just had to share something with you. If you aren’t already familiar, the book talks about how she did a 7 month fast, exploring 7 different areas each month – clothes, shopping, waste, food, possessions, media, and stress. It’s very anecdotal, to which I probably skimmed through half of it, but the point was good – an intentional reduction, a deliberate abstinence to summon God’s movement. That’s what a fast does – it creates margin for God to move. Here is a rather long, but beautiful excerpt from the chapter on spending that resonated with me.


Calligraphy and Artwork by evie s. (ie. this is not the cover of the book :)

Sunday at church we sang: ‘God, may we be focused on the least, a people balancing the fasting and the feast.’ I almost came undone. That statement sums up all my tension and hopes for the American Christ follower, the American church, the American me. With good intentions but misguided theology, the church spends most of our time, energy, resources, prayer words, programs, sermons, conferences, Bible studies, and attention on the feast, our feast to be exact.
Now certainly there is a feast, and thank you God for it. Where brokenness and starvation once consumed us, God sets us at a new table:
“Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O Lord, you preserve both man and beast. How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” ( Ps. 36:5-9)
This is the feast of the redeemed; Jesus made it possible for the wretched to dine with the Most High, neither offending His holiness nor compromising His justice. For those adopted by grace and faith, He no longer sees our failures or omissions; He only sees the righteousness Jesus covered us with. We stand safely behind Christ, made white-as-snow perfect from His substitution on the cross.
The currency of salvation includes blessings, redemption, fulfillment, peace, healing, sustenance, forgiveness, and hope. Its a spiritual jackpot. For those salvaged from the gutter by Jesus, these are new mercies every morning. We are easily overwhelmed by the goodness of God, which knows no bounds. The gospel is so liberating it is worthy of adoration every single second of every single hour of every single day forever. We will never be the same. This in indeed the feast, and to celebrate it is utterly Christian.
But the feast has a partner in the rhythm of the gospel: the fast.

Its practice is unmistakeable in Scripture. Hundreds of times we see reduction, pouring out, abstinence, restraint. We find our Bible heroes fasting from food- David, Esther, Nehemiah, Jesus. We see the Philippian church fasting from self-preservation, sending Paul money in spite of their own poverty, a true sacrifice. John the Baptist says if we have two coats, one belongs to the poor. The early church sold their possessions and lived communally, caring for one another and the broken people in their cities. We see God explain his idea of a fast: justice, freedom, food for the hungry, clothes for the naked. This balance is a given in Scripture.
If we ignored the current framework of the church and instead opened the Bible for a definition, we find Christ followers adopting the fast simultaneously with feast. We don’t see the New Testament church hoarding the feast for themselves, gorging, getting fatter and fatter and asking for more; more Bible studies, more sermons, more programs, classes, training, conferences, information, more feasting for us.
At some point, the church stopped living the Bible and decided just to study it, culling the feast parts and whitewashing the fast parts. We are addicted to the buffet, skillfully discarding the discipleship required after consuming. The feast is supposed to sustain the fast, but we go back for seconds and thirds and fourths, stuffed to the brim and fat with inactivity. All this is for me. My goodness, my blessings, my privileges, my happiness, my success. Just one more plate.
I think the early church would cover their heads with ashes and grieve over the dilution of Jesus’ beautiful church vision. We’ve taken His Plan A for mercy to an injured lost planet and neutered it to clever sermon series and Stich-and-Chat in the Fellowship Hall, serving the saved. If the modern church held to its biblical definition, we would become the answer to all that ails society. We wouldn’t have to baby-talk and cajole and coax people into our sanctuaries through witty mailers and strategic ads; they’d be running to us. The local church would be the heartbeat of the city, undeniable by our staunchest critics.

When the fast, the death, the sacrifice of the gospel is omitted from the Christian life, then it isn’t Christian at all. Not only that its boring. If I just want to feel good or get self-help, I’ll buy a $12 book from Borders and join a gym. The church the Bible described is exciting and adventurous and wrought with sacrifice. It costs believers everything and they still came. It was good news to the poor and stumped its enemies. The church was patterned after a Savior who had no place to lay his head and voluntarily died a brutal death, even knowing we would reduce the gospel to a self-serving personal improvement program where people were encouraged to make a truce with their Maker and stop sinning and join the church, when in fact the gospel does not call for a truce but a complete surrender.
Jesus said the kingdom was like a treasure hidden in a field, and once someone truly finds it, he will happily sell everything he owns to possess that field. a perfect description of the fasting and the feast. It will cost everything, but it is a treasure and an unfathomable joy. This is the balance of the kingdom; to live we must die, to be lifted we bow, to gain we must lose. There is no alternative definition, no path of least resistance, no treasure in the field without the sacrifice of everything else.

Oh Lord, may we be focused on the least; a people balancing the fasting and the feast.

What is Beauty?

There are some whose idea of beauty is just too small. We tend to make snap judgments about what is beautiful, and what is not. But beauty can be strong and astringent, disturbing, shocking and dark. It can also be  easily overlooked and ignored. I am tired of our culture creating a formula for beauty and dictating it to the masses. Recognizing beauty is not about having good taste. Tastes change as we evolve as a civilization. Trends come and go. Beauty can be a constant. A sunset will always be beautiful, a new life entering the world will always be beautiful.

As a designer, you learn that certain compositions, colors, lines and placement make a better design. If you stick to these basic proven principles, your art should be timeless. Contrived rules without scientific merit should always be questioned. Rules like, “Don’t wear white after Labor Day.”

Explore the perimeter of “good taste.” Don’t get stuck in the rut of trends and fads.  Because while I’ve found that beauty is subjective and depends on the person, it usually stays the same. If I learn to recognize on my own what is beautiful, it doesn’t change. And if I train my eye and heart to find what’s beautiful in even an ugly situation or environment, no matter what happens, that is my constant.

I don’t want to be known for my “good taste.” I want to be able to recognize beauty in unexpected places, and invite others to see it too. Maybe give what’s repulsive a second glance. Great art hasn’t always been in good taste. Before the avant-garde art movements of the twentieth century, it would be interesting to hear the Authority on Good Taste’s response to Picasso’s Guernica. In my view “good taste” can be so confining and restrictive – to the point that it isolates true beauty. 

And here is the moral here. God doesn’t really have good taste when it comes to us.

Picasso said that good taste is the enemy of great art.

Good taste has everything to do with being cultured and refined. Art has everything to do with being human. That’s why I love the Bible. The humans in the Bible are not very refined. And neither am I.

People would always say when I was a kid and say cheer up, God loves you. I would say big deal, God loves everybody, that don’t make me special. That just proves that God ain’t got no taste. And I don’t think he does. God takes the junk of our lives and he makes the greatest art in the world out of it. If God was cultured, if he was as civilized as most Christians wish he was, we would be useless to Christianity. Because God is a wild man, and I hope that over the course of your life you encounter him. – Rich Mullins

Here is what I think – things are lovely not because they are beautiful, they are beautiful because they are loved.  There is something about the things or people you love that you are attracted to and find appealing. But I think we need to enlarge the circle of what we deem beautiful. Love is the vehicle for this. Love invites us as artists to take things that would be considered without value and give it value. Art can be just as much about creative solutions for our world as it is for our own enjoyment and to the glory of God.

What are your thoughts?

Illustrations for Henry Happened

A few months ago I got an email from Stephanie of asking for some custom illustrations for her blog. Here is how they turned out – she wanted to go for simple black and white ink drawings for each category.

Go check out her blog, she has some great DIY tutorials and great style tips for your home and your wardrobe.

Happy Monday ya’ll!

Illustration for Emma Magazine

Have you heard of Emma Magazine? It’s like Martha Stewart Living, but young and fresh. They call it “A How-To Guide for the Modern Domestic.” I got to contribute to their January issue with an illustrated recipe – check out the issue, they make it available for free online.

I’m really not sure how I became an illustrator after all my years in graphic design, but in the last year that seems to be a niche I’m falling into, and I really love it.

Oh and Happy New Year! I hope to be back soon with some new content, that’s one of my goals for 2013, to write more. What are some of your goals for the new year? I would love to hear!


For the Makers + Anthropologie

My gals Janet + Katie with For the Makers got to team up with Anthropologie to create these sparkly DIY bracelet kits just for the holidays. I was really excited, and alot intimidated to create illustrations for each design. I mean, it’s Anthropologie, and it IS my favorite store, even if I have never bought anything there.

I’ve really come to love watercolors, and I’m so grateful for the chance to improve my skills over the last year. Thanks to Janet + Katie and Anthropologie for the opportunity! So proud of them and all their success in just a short year.

Everything you need to make a chic addition to your arm party is included in each sparkly kit. Instructions? Yeah we got those too- each step even has a photo. In true For the Makers fashion we made sure to include pops of pastels, hints of sparkle, and smash-ups of color. Whether it ends up in your bestie’s stocking or on your own wrist is entirely up to you. – Janet & Katie

They are available now in select stores and online.

A Full Heart

Over last weekend we successfully moved to downtown OKC – a little bit different than where we thought we were going to end up, but I am overwhelmed with gratitude where God put us in this season. We are living in apartments across the street from City Rescue mission, doing life with other believers, figuring out how we can serve and love our city, push back darkness and pursue Jesus. It’s been incredible and overwhelming. It’s rich and beautiful being in a community who have sacrificed to live lives of love, sharing, serving, and believing. Truly living out the Gospel and what it means to be the Church – The dream of Church that was deposited in me one year ago when I read this passage and caught it’s truth for the very first time:

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. Acts 4:32-35

It’s also a young mom’s dream – to live within steps of other moms for encouragement, support or relief. This is the way life should be. It felt so suffocating to be alone inside four walls of a house in a neighborhood, and even with all the efforts to step outside our walls, it never felt like enough. There was always something lacking.

Living in close proximity with other people, and especially other believers forces you to step outside yourself and your bubble to be accountable, refined and selfless in loving your neighbor. It’s only been 7 days, but feels like God has changed me so much already. I’m excited, and completely spilling over with the fullness of it all.

This is what we’re made for: We’re made to live for something bigger than ourselves, we’re made to give of ourselves for others – and hopefully by God’s grace, that’s why we are here, in a little apartment, in the broken, but beating heart of Oklahoma City.


On a separate note, I did a little interview over at my new friend Shayla’s blog, complete with a picture of our old house that we are putting on the market to sell very soon – you can check it out here: Why Do You Blog?

How are you doing, friends?