Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Tree of Dreams" Oil Painting

10x10, Oil on Canvas

I've had this little white tree in my mind for a while now.  Mostly it was a tree with a wispy white top and it sat here in the studio for over four months just looking at me like, "Are you ever going to finish what you started to say?" 

It's really a surreal painting in that it is like a dream, something that was stuck in my mind and had to get out. 

These past few weeks have been some really sweet times with God.  I've felt like He's been chiseling away at me and getting me to see my sins more clearly.  Things like my pride and my need to be "liked" by people have really been apparent to me.  I see how I can think more in a day about my thoughts, my feelings, my desires than asking what are God's thoughts, God's feelings, God's desires.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't think it's evil of me to paint or be passionate about something He has put in me to do.  I do think it becomes a wooden "god" when it becomes so much about the audience instead of the Master.  How does an artist get out of the way of herself?

I wrestled with this so much I even wrote Makoto Fujimura (a renowned artist who is a great thinker but more importantly a great lover of God and mankind).  I have to say I truly thought, "I'm just getting this out.  He won't write me.  He doesn't even really know me." 

This is a little of what I wrote:  "I take great delight in painting and also delight in having a piece sold to someone who enjoys it. I wonder if that entire time I have been feeding myself though. Have my thoughts ever strayed to someone else during that time? I find myself thinking about my work, my thoughts, my feelings throughout the day. The people I admire most, David Brainerd, Lilias Trotter, C.S. Lewis all seemed to understand how to give up their delights and man's acclaim to really pursue something real and wonderful. And when they wrote about God it was as if they had touched the hem of his clothes. You could almost see Him."

That same day he wrote me back!  He pointed me to Romans 7 and 8 and reminded me that the most important thing in life was love.  He pushed me to live in the knowledge that I am a daughter of the King.  Romans 7 talks about how Paul struggles with the things he doesn't want to do but does them. The things he most wants to do he cannot do.  I started to weep reading it as I thought about my struggle.  I got to Romans 8 and it says we can cry out and say, "Abba, Father!"  I thought about being in the dark and how as a small child we could cry out, "Daddy!  Daddy!" and He will come running.  That's how He sees us.  As His own.
I will share one of Makoto's paragraphs with you all as it touched me:
"The most important thing is to love. And love is creative; love takes risks. Do not create out of fear, but create through your fears until you find your dreams matching with the great needs of the world. Then you will find yourself "liberated from bondage to decay," and leading others to do the same. Your life will then become God's artwork."
In this painting I have the tree "liberating" itself.  It has become so beautiful and in that beauty (the pure white leaves) they are flying off the tree as if to give them to the world and ultimately back to God.


  1. My friend, this piece and this testimony are both absolutely beautiful--pointing me toward our Dad and the grace He extends toward us, using us to image Him via creativity and art. I've been struggling a lot since we made it back to Dallas--trying to figure out how writing and me being a writer fits together with God's plan and purpose for my life. I've been muddling along, but this testimony and especially what Fujimura shared points me toward truth. It points me toward God, rather than myself. Thank you for the reminder, sweet Dawn. -Jill

  2. Jill, let me know a good time to get your painting to you. I love you and am praying for you. I know God has great things in store for your writing and the path to all of those things lies in holding His hand.

    I was reminded recently how even when I see my sins and faults it is still thinking of myself. I truly think that we must live in the "heirship" of Christ yet also realize we have nothing in the darkness without Him. God will use ALL of you at different times in different ways for different people.

    As usual, thank you for your words. I feel sometimes like I'm hanging my guts up to the world for all to see. Pray they see Jesus in those guts.

  3. Dawn, I just saw this painting and read the note about it. I love the whole concept. I think we all struggle with laying ourselves down and following Him...even when we aren't artists or performers. Your honest words and beautiful work remind me of God and point me more towards Him. Thank you for being a vessel. -brandy