This week we are focusing on the theme of nature at our church worship and weekday discussion. Pastor Susan Parsley (Forest Hill Christian Church, San Francisco) shared via email a lovely video of nature’s wildflowers growing in the Pyrenees Mountains of France. This reminded me of time spent in France in the spring of 2001 when I visited the Arcachon region. I was there as a visitor while my husband Kim attended a week long scientific conference. Since I had no one to spend the days with, I decided to take the train to Le Teich one day to visit the Bird Park (Parc Ornithologic du Teich) I’d seen briefly as the train we were traveling passed by signs directing visitors to this location. Using my Eurorail pass, I enjoyed visiting the bird park and drew pictures of the storks and was especially impressed with their nests, 10 feet across, built on tall posts. As I returned to the train station, I noticed a field of red poppies growing wild along the roadside. All the cultural nuances of these flowers flooded my senses. Almost all of you have read the renown World War I poem by John McCrae, “In Flanders Fields,” called by some the perfect war poem. Red poppies have deep historical and cultural associations to Europeans who still wear red poppies annually to remember the military war dead. With this blog I share my own memories of red poppies and my seeing real ones for the first time.
Rancho San Antonio County Park – plein air oil painting
I was asked this past week at a ZOOM church discussion (Forest Hill Christian Church in San Francisco) where my favorite or most memorable place was. Some chose Yosemite and time spent camping with family. Others chose vividly remembered scenes in the Appalachian region of wind-swept bent trees. I choose a location close to my home, about 4 miles away. It’s summer now and the grassy hills have turned golden as old mature dark green California oak trees loom like large sentinels, providing much appreciated shade during these hot days. I painted this scene on site, or plein air. I rarely paint in this media. I also have a watercolor painting of this park during springtime. I’ve traveled to many places in the world and have seen many beautiful, remarkable and famous sites. But, what a blessing to enjoy even the simplest familiar places, close enough to revisit, and alluring enough to paint. Praise God, for all places are sacred, if viewed with a vision that sees beyond what’s there.
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As of March 29, 2021, my website AmericanSumie.com will become inactive and will no longer be accessible.
This blog site is still active and will have stories, comments and announcements. Thank you for your interest. For inquiries, contact me at : firstname.lastname@example.org
Peace & Love
Shirley Lin Kinoshita
In the animal kingdom, the family unit, consisting of a father, mother and children, is the most familiar nuclear unit that allows for the continuing health and viability of a species. There are however, variations of family units that are not as dominant but still exist and can be healthy alternatives. Asian art often celebrates the more familiar family unit as shown here. This is also a popular subject for artists of all cultures. Artists sometimes are motivated by financial considerations, or ‘what sells.’ I’ve sold a painting just like that but wasn’t motivated by that consideration. So is the artist’ success dependent on subject matter? I’m thinking of starting in a more abstract impressionist direction. I think it’ll be an interesting adventure in following the artistic temperament. Come along and see where I’m going. May God be glorified in the process.
I’m writing blogs again at Sumieblog.com, after several years hiatus. This time the blog will probably not be so much about art and faith, but a more intimate and personal look at art.
I have been creating art for a very long time starting with preschool childhood memories that certainly precede any thought of art as a career in adulthood. Even now I don’t think of myself as a professional artist. Now that I’ve reached an age (77 years, born 1942) when most would consider ‘near death,’ I think it’s a good time to reflect on this personality profile called the ‘Artistic Temperament.” Did you know it’s a genuine medical category with strong traits that border on a mental illness?
“artistic temperament. A personality profile well described in writers, artists and composers which in the extreme case borders on mental illness. Artists may suffer major depression, bipolar moods disorder or cyclothymia (the latter two of which are thought to be 10-20 times more common among artists),and may commit suicide (18 time more common in those with artistic temperaments). Episodes of hypomania may form the ‘substrate’ for creative bursts.” –Segen’s Medical Dictionary c2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved ( citation from Google search).
After years of painting realistically, most recently as a sumi-e artist, I am considering going into the direction of abstract expressionism. It’s an unexplored field as my tendency is to paint what I see. Being trained as a librarian (specialty in medical/hospital work), my first attempt to understand this new prompting is to check on that artistic method. I had one very good friend, Lenore McLoughlin, who was an abstract expressionist acrylic artist. In some ways I think my library career saved me from veering towards the more extreme forms of mental illness, as art should have been my natural career direction.
At age 5 I won my first art award in Kindergarten. At age 16, Mr. James Kimura, my high school art teacher, nominated me to attend a Saturday gifted student arts program for promising artists at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. Over these many years, I’ve met many types of artists and creatives and also explored many kinds of art including fine arts and graphic or commercial art. This is about artists and me. This topic will be written as a series of blogs rather than as a single one. Today is my introduction. Come join me, especially if you are an artist or think you have an artistic temperament.
11.9.2020 This WEBINAR is now on YouTube: https://youtu.be/PwAG6TYjn_A
ANNOUNCEMENT ART & FAITH; Using your Talent for God and for Good. Webinar. Rescheduled DUE TO CORONA VIRUS: I will be teaching a Free ZOOM workshop on Wed. October 21, 2020, 7-8:30 pm @ 166th Annual Gathering of Christian Church of Northern California-Nevada.
2018 workshop that explores the juxtaposition between art and faith with Focus on Asian Brush Painting and sharing favorite bible verses or quotes. Next workshop: Sat. May 2, 2020, 3:15 pm@ Arden Christian Church, Sacramento CA. This is held at the 166th Annual Gathering of CCNCN. Registration info at ccncn.org
I will supply instruction and supplies. Last workshop was Saturday, April 21, 2018, 2:45-4:00 pm at 164th Annual Gathering at Woodland Christian Church. This is an annual regional event of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Northern California-Nevada. See link at: http://www.ccncn.org/events/2018/Annual_Gathering/164th_AG_CCNCN.php
I will be taking part in an wildlife festival & artists group show on October 14, 2017, 2-4 p.m. at the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge Auditorium in Fremont, California.
Check out the link; come enjoy this free family friendly event: https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Refuge%20Week%20List.pdf
Since the theme is wildlife, I’ve selected several of my paintings of eagles. Magnificent golden eagles soar overhead around the salt marshs of this wildlife refuge, protected from encroachment of this increasingly urban region. We lose so much beauty and awe when natural landscapes are lost to development. We can better appreciate Isaiah’s message when we experience these noble birds.
“Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.” –-Isaiah 40:31 (NASB)
May we remember that our God is faithful and his empowering grace to strengthen us through life’s highs and lows. Thanks be to the LORD God who is Jesus Christ.
I enjoy painting flowers. Some members of places of worship like to place floral arrangements in prominent positions to be admired and enjoyed.
Someday, I may do a series on Christian symbols with floral themes. Many of these floral symbols have deep cultural roots and associations.
One of my favorite subjects is the Lotus. It is not a Christian symbol, but is a polyvalent one with deep meaning for many people in eastern cultures. The lotus is sacred to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains. Many of these sages have observed this flower blooming pure and beautiful, untouched by the muddy habitat from which it rises.
When you think about how cultures and geography imbues religious and spiritual practice, it’s not hard to understand why the lotus doesn’t appear in religions like Christianity, Judaism and Islam which all originated from desert and arid water poor regions. However, ancient Egyptians, who lived along the Nile River, with plentiful water access, enjoyed and revered the water lily (similar but not the same as the lotus) as a sacred symbol of the rising of the sun and life force.
Often as not, flowers often were associated with the fruit borne from them. The blossoms of peach, plum, apricot yield luscious stone fruit. The bounty of such fruits are essential to nutrition, satisfaction, and enjoyment of sweet bounty.
Lotus flowers yield not fruit, but its bulbous long roots are a prized food in some Asian cultures. As a child, my immigrant Chinese mother sometimes cooked this dish and I always thought this vegetable looked like a pig’s nose—pink, with several holes sprinkled through the sliced root vegetable.
What we worship often appears, like the lotus, as pure and clean unsullied by the immorality and the muddy environment of living. We humans may find it hard to clean off the mud we are mired in. We fall short of God’s perfection, “for we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
For Christians, only Jesus Christ has been shown to be completely righteous and sinless (i.e., pure) and able to take on all of our sins. In the end, we will be only saved by this faith in Him, not by what we see or perceive as pure and beautiful as the lovely lotus. Remember, this, then: “We walk by faith, and not by sight” 2 Corinthians 5:7
When I imagine heaven, I think it should include flowers. However,our love for flowers and their fruit will be not important compared to our relationship with Christ. We will stand in judgment before Him for what we have done, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10
All signs and sights point to our LORD & Savior Jesus Christ. Follow the signs. We fall short of God’s glory. Yet this God, who is called “I Am or I Will,” says He “will be with me through every trial and success. Thanks be to God.
“But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.”
—“To His Coy Mistress,” by Andrew Marvell
This excerpt from a well known poem, written 5 centuries ago by English poet Andrew Marvell, speaks admiringly about the various physical attributes of a coy young female acquaintance. The 2nd stanza quoted here are the best known lines as the poet realizes the sudden imposition of time and death negate all his life’s passions and longing. The poet concludes that we need to express our passions, while we are able. He hopes his feelings are shared by his mistress.
In East Asian culture, refined scholars in the upper classes of society seek to hone their skills in calligraphy, painting and poetry. These three themes are the mark of the complete gentleman. Of the three, poetry is my least explored skill. Many Asian calligraphers and painters copy the poetry they admire. Copying is an acceptable norm in this culture. Likewise in Western culture, we like to quote the verses we admire and that resonate in our lives. I quoted these lines from Andrew Marvel in a library report while head librarian at a dental school library in the Mission district of San Francisco in 1965. The College of Physicians and Surgeon’s Dental School, Univ. of the Pacific, was moving to a newly built location on Webster St. and we faced many decisions about what to take and what to discard prior to the move. It took a year of massive discarding, selling of excess journals, and outdated books, before we were ready to move what remained. Major shifts in information collection have occurred since 1965 which has seen the dawn of automation and computer technology. I was part of this transition in the library profession from card catalogs to computers until my retirement in 2001.
Today, I am more aware of how little time I have left on this earth and wonder what imprint or legacy I will have in the future. Andrew Marvell’s legacy is his poetry which still resonate today. What will mine be? What will yours be? What is beyond our time on this earth? We can only live in the present, remember the past and speculate on what’s beyond.