It must’ve been 6 months ago that I followed a whim to pick up a coloring book called Secret Garden, by Johanna Basford. I had already used up my previous coloring book: a nice thick one featuring Batman and his accompanying villainous cast. As an inexperienced (I would say un-gifted) visual artist, coloring tends to be the closest I can get to painting or drawing. For me, it is a way to relax and unblock the creative flow.
My eyes were drawn at once to the complex, intricate beauty that sprawls across the pages of Secret Garden. Dark inky lines curve and climb, creating an abundance of white space that invites you to fill it with something imaginative and all your own.
I admit that I was intimidated at first, not knowing where or how to begin. But this week, I brought out my collection of colored pencils, armed myself with a hand-held sharpener, and took a leap.
I love the quiet beauty of the scenes within: beautiful trees and garden scenes, mandalas that draw leaf and flower, bird and insect into a circular flow.
It feels so generous, to be invited to participate in the art in my unique way. I find this activity to be absolutely quieting and centering. Thank you, Johanna, for this opportunity!
So basically, the low-down is that there’s a forest that’s been planted in Norway and it’s going to be allowed to grow for 100 years before it is cut down to print a library of books. Which books? That’s the kicker. Books that we have NEVER READ BEFORE by authors we know and love. Margaret Atwood is the first. Every year for 100 YEARS, another author will add an unpublished unREAD manuscript to the project. Can you read these books? No. And you never will. Unless of course they defeat mortality before then and we are all living forever. Your chances are not great. The best you can do is buy a certificate that entitles you to a complete set of the texts, and hope that it stays in your family to be read by your heirs (ie: someone you *hypothetically* love).
As you can tell by my use of ALL CAPS, the concept of the Future Library is difficult for me as a reader–some of my favorite authors will have written books that I will never read!–but also as a writer. To think: an artist creating something that no one in their lifetime will ever see. With no guarantee that it will make it to the day of its debut!
I guess that’s not such a crazy reality. Many artists weren’t known or appreciated in their day, and as an unpublished author, I am dealing with that issue right now (What is the purpose of my art if no one but me ever sees it? What if I’m never published? Will that negate the work that I’ve done, the stories I’ve told?)
Plus, there really is something romantic about this idea. It is lavishly generous and hopeful, and as close to time travel as we can get right now! We (as in our time, place, context) are being given the opportunity to live on through artists of our day. And in the years to come, the same will be true for our future generations.
Regardless of which side of the emotional fence I’m on at any given moment, I am always sure of one thing: this project is very artistically brave! It requires a lot of letting go and trust in the future. I hope that in my lifetime, I can learn to be that courageous and selfless with my art.
Today I’m geeking out about Sonia Singh’s up-cycled dolls:Tree Change Dolls. She uses discarded dolls (usually “Bratz”) and completely changes their look using simple materials (paint, glue, clay, yarn). The transformation is incredible, and it is refreshing to see a toy that a child might actually be able to identify with–that reflects their image and personality rather than projecting an image and personality to be adopted or attained.
To me, these dolls say: you are beautiful, unique, valued. The whole endeavor–process, materials, visual look–celebrates a realistic, natural beauty that our current culture ignores (at best), and most often discourages or criticizes. If as a 30 year old, these dolls make me feel good about myself and my body, it thrills me to think of what they might do for a young girl or boy’s self esteem.
Sonia never intended these dolls to hit the popularity that they have, but the response has shown a hunger out there for toys–indeed, for cultural messages–like these.
Watch this interview with Sonia about her dolls, and search “Sonia Singh” on Youtube to find tutorials on how to do your own doll up-cycling!
This album is packed with heart, authenticity, movement, honesty. It is an homage to C.S. Lewis and his influential writing–both fiction and nonfiction. This work was my first introduction to Heath McNease and, among other things, is a great showcase of his musical capability and flavoring.
To write and perform music based on the revered, beloved works of C.S. Lewis seems brazen, fearless. And perhaps it does require these things in some amount. But the album is humble and respectful, and the songs are written in a way that preserves and redirects attention to the original material, maintaining a complementary balance.
This album is another brick in the wall of a great legacy that goes all the way back to the Original Source of inspiration that Lewis and McNease share. Well crafted by a genuine talent, and enriched by the heritage from which they were birthed, these songs reach out and connect with me deeply.
Today’s writing project combines two of my greatest loves: the Gospel and Doctor Who.
I am especially thrilled with how this review is shaping up for the next in my Who-ology series. Here I offer a rough rough rough cut of a couple of paragraphs from the piece. Look for the finished whole sometime towards the end of the month over at Reel World Theology. In the meantime, enjoy!
…there is Someone [who] is trustworthy to cause “all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
If you’re like me, that verse has long lost its potency, thanks to the years and years of being quoted at when struggling through painful life circumstances. But let’s hold its truth up to something that we can’t accuse of being touchy-feely or hypothetical. Contrarily, it is raw and tangible (and God knew we needed it): Jesus willingly put himself into experiences just as dark, painful, and inexplicable as the ones we are facing. Not only did he experienced ultimate physical and emotional pain, but spiritual as well: “Why?” he agonized to God in the Garden of Gethsemane, literally sweating blood. And then again on the cross. But Hebrews tells us that he trusted in the end goal, the eternal perspective, and saw suffering through “for the joy set before him.” The Joy–that’s us.