Listening to a Bible study on the Sermon on the Mount, I began to think about how I can take the very important things that Jesus taught on the hill and relate them to my art and business. I want my art to be in interictal part of my faith. To do that, my art must be submitted to the Lord. That’s kind of a churchy term, and it might not mean anything to you. That’s why I thought the things that Jesus was talking about were interesting . I was seeing that He was really trying to help us flesh things out.
He was talking about the Kingdom. I want my art and my business to be Kingdom centered. To do that, I must understand what the Kingdom of God is, and once I understand what the Kingdom is, I must decide to create my art and my business according to that blueprint.
Don’t Be Seen
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins by talking about things you should not do to be seen; pray, give, and fast. As an artist that creates a conflict in me, because an art business is all about making things to be seen. In my personal journey, I came to the point that I wanted to sell my art because I didn’t want to hide it in a drawer, never let anyone see it much less be able to purchase it, and take it home and put it in their home to enjoy.
That makes me think of the parable on the talent. At the end of my life, I don’t want to say I was afraid, and I didn’t want to take a risk, so I hid my talent. And all that I created, I kept hidden in my house for myself. Is that what Jesus is talking about when he says don’t do something to be seen. Does He want me to hide my art or never create it so that it can’t ever be seen?
When I create an art work, I’m bringing something to life. My art has a message. It may be a simple message, or it may be very deep. I think that for me to create art that will not be seen is to create an art work that doesn’t point to myself… the creator of it. I think it should point to something else; something beautiful, a beautiful place, an idea. Maybe art can expose a problem by bringing the truth to it.
Maybe a painting could be a guidepost to help someone along the way. I think for me when Jesus says don’t do this to be seen, that my art shouldn’t always point back to me. Is that something I can do? Can I make that decision? Can I make that choice? Can I ask what is it that I want my art to say? What do I need to express? To teach? To bring life to? Can I take my art a little bit deeper and try to illuminate some truth?
All this takes courage, to live a life that’s not all about myself. It’s easy to be all about me. It takes effort to dig into something and study it, figure it out, try to express it, try to give it the best representation that you can and to give a little bit more.
Jesus said, don’t give to be seen, don’t pray to be seen, and don’t fast to be seen, because all you are going to get out of that is the approval of man. If you create art to be seen, that is your reward, the approval of man. Yet, I think there’s something inside of us that wants to touch the eternal. Will I risk the approval of man to try to do that? Can I build my life, my work, my art on that longing, to leave myself behind, forget the approval of man and sit at the feet of Jesus and learn to live in the Kingdom of God instead?
With that all in mind I want to share something close to my heart and a core part of my art and my business; that is giving back. This month is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. This is where I pause and take a deep breath and ponder what I should say next.
My sister Nancy will reach her five-year anniversary of her diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer this month.
A few years after her diagnosis, about the same time she began her second round of chemotherapy Nancy commissioned me to paint three paintings of shells for her home.
I sell cards and prints created from the paintings in my Etsy Shop. A portion of the proceeds go to Ovarian Cancer Research. This year I took the artwork and made the shells Teal. Teal is the color of the Ovarian Cancer Ribbon. I made notecards from the Teal Shells and they are up on my Etsy site and The Shop at Ruthieonart too. But I am sharing all of them with you as a download when you opt-in to my weekly email letter. If you feel led please donate to Ovarian Canrer Research . And know if you purchase any of these items from my shop I will be adding the profit to my donation in Nancy’s honor.