Nowhere Near…

Do you ever have those days where you realize you’re NOWHERE near where you thought you would be at a certain point in your life?  Maybe you thought you’d be married by a certain age, or done with school by a certain year.  Maybe you thought you’d be traveling or living/working somewhere exotic.  Maybe you never thought you’d leave home, or vice versa, couldn’t wait to leave, but haven’t.  Maybe you’ve failed at something, lost a job.  Maybe your significant other broke up with you, or you have been disappointed, stepped on, or let down in more ways than you can count.

Maybe you never had any idea where you’d go, who you’d be, or what you’d do…

Maybe you still don’t.

contentment
Can I just say that I honestly think Philippians 4 is my favorite chapter of the Bible?! 4:11 and 4:13 are two of my favorite verses EVERRRRRR! 

This is something I struggle with sometimes (okay… a lot).  I’ve always been the type of person to look forward to the next thing; graduation from HS, graduation from College, working, marriage, living life… I’m generally happy and easily excitable, but am I content?  Do I know how to really live in the moment, soaking it up and enjoying all the wonders that God provides every day?

new-mercies

As I sit here, on the day I turn 27, I reflect on the past years of my life.  I’ve done a lot, seen a lot, loved and worked a lot.  I’m not ANYWHERE near where I thought I’d be, had you asked me at 10.  I harbored fantasies that I’d be married by now (yes, I’m one of those people who have a pinterest board dedicated to my “one-day dream wedding”…no, I’m not ashamed), working at a job I loved, in a really cool place with lots of things to do, and of course I’d be making art, writing, reading, and doing all the things I love.

I’ve lost my hearing at 5, gained a Cochlear Implant at 6, played soccer for 16 years, graduated from High School as valedictorian, completed college with honors, struggled with an eating disorder (from which I learned a lot, and am eternally thankful for the people who supported me even when it made me want to hate them), run marathons, taught school, obtained a Masters degree, worked in museums, worked in a coffee shop (YUMMMMMM!), and am now wondering what else I will do.  I’m on the brink of potentially doing some things I couldn’t have pictured before; I’ve changed and grown a lot over the years, and I think I have a healthier perspective now than I’ve ever had.

There’s really only one thing I’m sure of… (okay; two… coffee is DELISH).

confidence

Okay, I think I’ll leave it at that for now.  Sorry (not sorry) for all the images, but as an artist, images often speak more than text alone.  I should make some images with verses and watercolors and sell those… hmmm… or just plaster them all over my walls to remind me of what I never EVER want to lose sight of!

Love you all!

Danielle

“Patience is a virtue”

We’ve all heard it said AT LEAST a million times… “Patience is a virtue.”  I honestly have no idea where this quote originated, and let me spare you the time of looking it up online; you’ll get a zillion different answers, and who knows which one is correct!

For me, I’ve heard it the most from my parents…

As a kid, I was ready to start playing soccer before I was old enough… “Patience is a virtue.”  (Although, my Athletic Director father went ahead and let me start)

When I lost my hearing, I was impatient to get to the next step, because I had to wear useless hearing aids (hearing aids are great, but when you have NO hearing for them to aid, not so much)… “Patience is a virtue.”

Growing up, I’d be super-impatient about something with school, theatre, art, etc… there it was again… “Patience is a virtue.”

Applying for college… “Patience is a virtue.”

Now I’m at a point of my life where I’ve heard it SO many times, I’m about sick of it, honestly.  I graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with my MFA in Fine Art this past May, and have VERY impatiently been applying and waiting for jobs.  In fact, I’ve been so impatient, I let fear rule my thoughts, and I almost took a job I didn’t really want, simply for the sake of working again–I’m so ready to get out on my own again, pave my own way into this crazy world, meet new people, see new things, visit new places…

But am I REALLY ready?  I know I’m mentally ready… but maybe I’m not physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually ready… All I know is that God has been really working on patience with me lately.  I KNOW that He will provide a job and sustenance and that His timing is so so so so much better than mine.  I KNOW that.  I trust Him.

But do I really LIVE out that knowledge, that trust?

I think that’s what God is trying to tell me.  Until I can 100% trust Him, maybe I’m not really ready to be on my own again.  Maybe He wants me to stay with my parents longer than I want, so I can be part of their lives, and enjoy the time I have with them, ’cause goodness knows it won’t last forever.  Maybe He wants me to be close to my brother and his wife, so I can watch their ADORABLE child, Bailey, grow up a bit before I leave and go elsewhere.  Maybe, maybe, maybe…

That brings me to today’s devotional reading from “David: Seeking God’s Heart,” a devotional study written by Beth Moore.  Today, I was reading in 2 Samuel, and the title of the chapter in the study was “Right Place: Sometimes God reveals Himself through experiences we don’t understand.”

Hello, smack in the face!

Today’s specific passage was 2 Samuel 2:1-7.  David has just heard about Saul’s death, as well as that of Saul’s sons, including Jonathan, with whom David was incredibly close.  David is trying to decide what to do, and where to go from here.  Instead of acting of his own accord, David ASKED God what he should do!  This is super important to note–at least for me–because David ALWAYS asked God what he should do before he did ANYTHING.  David knows that God can answer and that He will… in HIS time.  This is where Beth Moore says, “He had taken some wrong turns and some right turns, but he took virtually every step crying out to his God,” which reminds me that, no matter where we go or what we do, if we strive to plant our feet in God’s Way, we will get where we are going… it may  be a different route than we originally think… it may not be the scenic route… and it may start MUCH later than we want it to… but God knows what His plan is, not us… and HE knows what needs to happen in order to make it come to fruition.  We just need to trust and follow.

I used to think that constantly asking God for direction would be like pestering Him… like, He has SO much going on that I shouldn’t “bother” him by asking for the same thing over and over again.  But that is exactly what David does.  He asks God for direction, repeatedly, until God gives him specifics.  And until God does supply these specifics, David stays put.  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do anything or go anywhere until God says something extremely specific (I honestly believe that God can and will use us anywhere, even if it’s somewhere that seems unlikely).  In fact, if you struggle with that, you should totally read the book, “Just Do Something,” by Kevin DeYoung.  It’s a pretty good read!

one day.jpg
Unfortunately, I cannot take any credit for this absolutely gorgeous and inspiring collage! 

Basically, what I’m saying is that, maybe… just maybe… asking God for specific directions isn’t a sign of impatience or a lack of trust.  Maybe it’s a sign of deepened trust; a trust that transcends the fear of becoming a bother.  Maybe, like prayer, asking God for specific directions is more for us, as humans, than it is for God.  Perhaps it is a reminder, a daily mantra, to help us persevere in our patience and remember just why it is that we are patiently waiting for God’s direction: ‘Cause His way is the ONLY way!

Beth Moore left some pretty good guidelines/suggestions for how to learn to listen to God’s Word when we are in doubt or struggling with what to do.  I’m gonna leave them here, and challenge you, and myself, to try to incorporate these more daily:

  1. Acknowledge your specific need for direction.
  2. Continue to pray and study His Word daily.
  3. Ask God to HELP you recognize His answer (we humans can be pretty darn dumb)
  4. Ask for a confirmation if you have any doubt. (God didn’t even hate Thomas for doubting, way back in John 20:24-29, when he appears to Thomas and the disciples after the Resurrection… He won’t hate us.  He’ll just help us understand.)

Sorry it’s a bit of a long one this time… I guess I had a lot to say!

Peace, love and Jesus,

Danielle

Thesis Exhibition and Defense

So… I know I promised a full recap of the Thesis exhibition A WHILE AGO.  Is it fair to say that I’ve been busy?  Plus, I’ve been exhausted.  You know that emotional/mental/physical let down after a big event?  Yeah.  I didn’t even realize I was anticipating my Thesis Exhibition and Defense quite so much!  I knew it was a huge capstone and kind of a big deal… but WHOOOOO!  Am I glad it’s done!

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it–I did.  Thoroughly.  Although the two years I’ve spent at RIT have been FULL of ups and downs, I’ve really learned a lot and enjoyed myself here.  I’ve grown as a person, an artist, a critic, a curator, a writer, and so much more.  It’s going to be pretty hard to say goodbye in a few short weeks.  (I’m loading up a U-box on May 19th and sending my entire life to oblivion… okay, that’s a bit dramatic… I’m sending my POSSESSIONS to my parents’ house for a while, since I’m not yet sure where I’ll be living after May!)

So, now the show….

It was, in a word, AMAZING.  My family flew in from North Carolina, and my sweet Uncle even drove up from Jersey, just to see me and my work!  I’m so blessed to have such a loving, supportive, and all-around awesome family.  I would truly be nobody and nowhere without them!

The crowd was rather huge; I stood near my work most of the time and talked to people, and watched them looking at my work.  It is one of the most fun things, for me as an artist, to watch people interact with my work.  I love to see them get lost in it, question it, bring friends over, and talk about it right in front of me–since they don’t know I’m the artist… haha!  SO FUN.  I got lots of compliments and interesting questions, too.  Totally makes everything worth it when you get a chance to share your art with other people.  It’s a vulnerable time, yes, as artwork is often very personal… but it’s like an intimate dialogue, and I always learn more than I anticipate.

I was even able to get a couple sales from the show… I’ll be honest; sales are nice, but that’s not why I make art.  So to create something that I’m happy with and have enjoyed so much, and then have someone else find enough meaning in it that they want to buy it, to look at daily, is an incredible thing.  I truly consider myself blessed to be able to experience this interaction and help bring something to another’s life!  There are still quite a few pieces that are in my studio, though, that I would like to sell before I pack up the U-box… if someone loves something, I’d rather it have a happy home than risk damaging it during travels!

There’s so much more that I could say about the show, my artwork, how I feel… but that would be a BOOK!  The Defense went really well–totally not what I expected, but I’m pleased and my committee is, too!  So that’s all that really matters.  Now, I’m focusing on finishing up my Thesis Document so I can get it published and printed!  Once it’s all available online, I’ll embed the link and talk more about that! 🙂

So, I know I’ve already shared most of these images before, but wanted to include them again, simply because that is what my Thesis is all about.  If anyone has any questions–personal, artistic, commissary, or otherwise–please feel free to contact me at any time!

ANDDD that last one, in the wee bottom right corner, is just to show where it all started… GOOD GRIEF! 🙂 It’s been a wild ride!  SUCH fun!

Updates and Thesis!

I know I’ve been rather MIA as I work on my MFA Thesis Exhibition.  I’m not entirely sure why, except that I’ve been busy!  I thoroughly enjoy writing, though, and will be picking back up with the blog now that my Thesis is winding down… hard to believe it’s nearing the end of my second year of graduate school at RIT!

The main purpose of this particular post is simply to share what my work looks like, currently.  Right now, things are mostly finished, and I’m just letting the pieces rest for a bit, so that I can clear my head of the “tunnel vision” and return in a couple days with fresh eyes to do any last-minute touches!

I’ve still got to finish hanging mechanisms for a couple pieces (three, to be exact!), and edit my thesis paper.. perhaps I’ll include the entire paper as a blog post one day… it’ll be super long, since I never know when to stop talking! 🙂

Anyways, without further ado, here are the PAINTINGS so far… I did not photograph the two sculptures yet… yeah, my show ended up with seven pieces (the Biblical number for completion and wholeness), even without my planning it that way! God is so awesome!  I know these images are rather large, and may be difficult to see on a still screen, unless your computer is way bigger than mine!  But I like how big they are, because you can see the details more fully.  After I post the sculptures, too, I will spend some time blogging about EACH image and what it means… so hang on, we’re going for a ride through Revelation! 🙂

IMG_4400IMG_4398IMG_4397IMG_4403IMG_4402

Okay… I can’t resist: “the” starbucks red cup post

So, if you’re on Facebook or ANY social media at all lately, chances are, you’ve seen post after post about Starbucks’ “war on Christmas.”  REALLY?

starbucks-cup-2009 starbucks-cup-2010  starbucks-cup-2012 starbucks-cup-2013 starbucks-cup-2014

I didn’t know what all the fuss was about at first, so I did some browsing–I didn’t have to go far–to figure it out.  Even the news is reporting it as a “thing” now.  It is absolutely insane.  Here is one example of a “report” about the “war on Christmas”…  Here is another… Here is YET ANOTHER…

Had enough?

Me too!  To quote Kristoff from Frozen (which we all know I love), “Can we please just stop talking about this?  We’ve got a real, actual problem here…”

Anna frozen

Starbucks has been using various holiday-themed cups for YEARS, with no indication of any relation to the Christian aspects of Christmas.  So, this year there are no snowflakes or decorations?  SO WHAT?!  Maybe Starbucks decided to go minimalist… does it make it any “less Christian” than before?… NO–They were never affiliated with Christianity in the first place!  Snowflakes, ornaments, reindeer…whatever… on a cup doesn’t make it Christian… NOR does the absence make it violent toward Christians.

IT’S A COFFEE CUP, PEOPLE.

I’m pretty sure it’s not written in the Bible anywhere that we should decorate our drinking vessels to promote Christianity.  No… however, it IS written that we should “love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our strength, and with all our mind,” OH and guess what… we should “love our neighbor as ourselves.”  Luke 10:27

Sounds to me like we should all forget about the red cup “fiasco,” and focus on things that really matter, like spreading love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, meekness, and self-control (Galations 5:22-23).  We should share what we have with others, even if that means going out of our way to do so.  Matthew 25:40.

I could keep going, but I’m pretty sure you get the idea.  There are SO MANY more important things than worrying about whether a silly little cup has a snowflake on it.  And, quite frankly, if Starbucks WAS declaring war on Christmas, WHY would they still have Christmas blend coffee, Christmas gift cards, and Christmas ornaments for sale in their stores… just some food for thought.  Now, go enjoy your coffee… no matter what cup it’s in!  Drink it out of a jack-o-lantern cup, for all I care.

I, for one, am going to try to focus on what REALLY matters this Christmas: That Jesus was born, sent to earth, with the express purpose of saving me–and all His children–from ourselves; without God’s grace in sending His son, we would have no hope.  But because God is merciful and loving, we can know Him, His hope, His forgiveness, His salvation.  THAT is pretty awesome.  And no, I don’t need a snowflake to say so.

Peace, love and art,

danielle

Another revelation, while painting Revelations! … and LET IT GO!

Hello lovelies,

So here it is: my promised post about my thesis show and today’s critique!  Which shall I start with?… how ’bout an IMAGE?!  Here’s one: (there are more throughout)

living creatures

I’ll start with today’s critique.  I’ll come right out and say that It did NOT go how I would have liked. The professor was not “too” critical or anything like that, and I did get some helpful, constructive feedback.  No one was mean or “overly” nice…

so WHY was it not my best critique?

Well, in retrospect, I realize that many factors built into today’s mood: I was already frustrated because the critiques of my classmates dragged on for FOUR class days already, and we were in the last 30 minutes or so of the fourth class day (that’s 12 hours, spread throughout 3 weeks, at least), and I didn’t think we would even get to my work today.  My irritation and frustration have been growing since the beginning of the semester; I wasn’t happy with painting, my professor was projecting himself on my painting style, and there are/were other frustrations… (I’m just not including those photos)

big eagle lion sketch

THAT being said, when today’s critique was full of the professor “finishing” the painting in his style, verbally, and seeming to push me in a direction I am NOT taking the painting, it was the last straw.  I realized a week or so ago that I MISS my old studio practice.  I MISS pastel sketches, painting in high contrast, using jewel-tones, and trusting myself.  It took listening to my peers and talking with them to realize that I was rather lost, for a while.  I tell my drawing students, all the time, that they should trust themselves and go with their gut… but I wasn’t listening to myself.  Now, I realize that I have to take what is said by the professor, and apply it to what I want to do, how I want to do it.

The moment I had that “revelation,” I felt like Elsa, from Frozen….”let it go!”  So here’s a picture from buzzfeed, ’cause who DOESN’T love Elsa?!

get-frozen-again-as-elsa-sings-let-it-go-in-25-la-1-16133-1390324078-27_big

Over the past several weeks, I have realized that my thesis exhibition is MINE.  Yes, my professor is there for guidance and can certainly teach me new things, but ultimately, I cannot let him force me to compromise my vision.  And a vision is exactly what I am depicting.  I’m re-presenting (’cause it’s already been presented once, by John) John’s visions from Patmos in Revelation…. My professor–and others–may not “get it,” but for a while, I was painting for my professor, and I lost my way.  I realize that I live, breathe, and paint for an audience of one: God.  When I let go of what my professor was pushing me toward, I was able to regain some of my old truthfulness.  I know how to paint.  I may not be the best artist, but that’s okay… I just need to be true to myself, paint for God, and allow Him to work through me.

YES, that feels good.  YES, it is a huge sigh of relief… BUT my professor’s “stray-causing”…? (I’ll call it that) is not without benefits.  Through my frustration with painting, I realized that trying to paint ALL of Revelations is ridiculous.  There’s so much I can never understand or fathom. God even says very clearly that “no mind can comprehend…” (1 Corinthians 2:9) The more I think about it, also, the more I realize that part of my vision of Revelations is NOT painting at all… it’s sculpture.  When I read about the seven bowls from Revelations, I do not see them as paintings, but as actual bowls!

Am I a sculptor?  NOOOOOO… haha… BUT, I did take Sculpture last semester, and honestly, I enjoyed it a LOT more than I expected to… or than I let on.  AND, I realized that, for me, a huge part of being at RIT is learning to be an ARTIST, not “just a painter,” and what better way to express my growth as an artist than to present an interdisciplinary show?  What better way to represent Revelations than how my initial vision portrays it?  That’s what Revelations is, after all: Visions.

So, that being said… I’m thinking three paintings, and seven bowls.  Both numbers are Biblically symbolic and significant… Three for the Holy Trinity, the anti-trinity (which is depicted in one of my paintings, along with the 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the 4 living creatures around the throne of Heaven).  Seven is one of the most common numbers in Revelations, and is a symbol of wholeness and completion.  Here is some research based on the numbers 3 and 7, in Revelations, specifically:

“Next to seven, 3 is the most commonly found or referenced number in Revelation. An angel is charged to cry three woe’s to those who live on earth to warn them of more trials to come (Revelation 8:13). The murdered bodies of the Two Witnesses will not be allowed to be buried but rather will lie openly in Jerusalem for three days before they are resurrected. Three unclean spirits will be allowed to deceive the whole world to FIGHT the returning Jesus Christ in what is called the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:13 – 16). The new Jerusalem, created by God for placement on a new earth, will be shaped like a square with three gates on each side (Revelation 21:13).”     —http://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/3.html

There’s way too much about the number seven for one “nugget,” so, click here.

Here’s one last image for you… I’m toying around with the idea of Hope, and how to insert that… so this is a cute dove I’m considering… I’ve done several different sketches in different poses, but this guy is the only one I snapped, so far:

dove

So, I don’t know exactly what my thesis will be, in the end… but I know who I want to rely on for guidance, and I have a rough plan… for me, that is enough.

As always, peace love and art!  RENEWED! -Danielle