Intro: The Artistic’s Temperament

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.

Art & Faith Workshop 2018

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

 

1Peter3.15Kingfisher.jg
1 Peter 3:15

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

Wings like Eagles

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.

Eagle

 

 

 

Flowers and Faith

Lotus

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.

 

Poem & Painting Squirrels

“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.

SquirrelABPPoem.jpg

What’s Perfect?

Have you ever been told that you or what you created is perfect? Actually, artists like me tend to be very insecure and view their own creations as far from what is our ideal.  It’s  reassuring to know that any fears and negativism I am experience are covered by God’s overarching love and care. The only perfect  human example  is Jesus Christ.  I can place my fears and cares on Him, the only One who can make  what is imperfect, perfect by his grace and power.

I now have several art mentors to encourage me in my pursuit of artistic & professional excellence.  Today, one of my mentors, Brainard Carey, spoke about artists’ fears of being less than perfect in their craft and careers. But as Salvador Dali notes, “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” So it’s best to just keep doing with practice, production, affirmations and encouragement from those who’ve experienced these insecurities in this creative journey.  Jesus’ perfection is unique and we only need to trust and obey Him and take Him at his Word. LORD may it be so. Amen.

P.S. Check out  mynew website: AmericanSumie.com

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