Art Circle meets monthly at Jacob’s Well in Normal, IL. However, in between meetings, the community of artists, writers, musicians and singers are e-mailing, texting, tweeting, facebooking and phoning one another. Art is one of the many topics discussed, along with the details of life, sometimes accompanied by prayer requests to see us through. I am so thankful for this community of love, understanding and encouragement. Art Circle is defined as, “A creative community gathering in Faith, Hope and Love inspiring Beauty, Truth and Goodness through individual expression and appreciation of the Arts.” Yes. That’s exactly right.
On May 25, 2011, nearly a year ago, my husband (at age 40) had a colonoscopy that revealed a tumor which was biopsied. A few days later, on May 27, the strong liklihood of cancer was confirmed. It was Memorial Day weekend, summer vacation had just begun for our two sons who’d completed 5th and 2nd grade. On Monday, May 30, we needed to get out of the house and headed north to Starved Rock for hiking…though things didn’t go as planned. When we arrived the park was flooded, crowded and there was no parking. So instead of hiking, we turned around, ate our picnic lunch in the van, and headed south toward home. I had my sketchbook on my lap, as I sat in the front passenger seat, and drew two mixed media pictures that’d been in my head since we’d received The News. The first was titled, “Life Upside Down” and the second, “Life On Tilt.”
Fast forward a few weeks to June 16, 2011. LizBeth posted a note on her Dreams2Create Facebook profile titled, “Absences and motivation.” You see, it was time to submit ideas to Natalie and Bekah for The Pod Mural Project. I commented on her note, “LOVE this Pep Talk, LizBeth!!!! I’ve been writing instead of visual artisting. But now I know I need BOTH to soothe my soul. The Mural Project. I have bubkus. Nada. Zilch. Unless an upside down house or a house on tilt will work…or a knight slaying a dragon. Then I freak at not feeling like a painter and not knowing how whatever will translate to A Public Wall. There are a few days left…right?! Thankful for YOU in my life. Creating Is Good. God Made You To Create. Do it. For His Glory.”
LizBeth: “You don’t have to ‘feel’ like a painter. You just need to ‘feel to paint’. I believe you have it in you. Spread your wings. Besides there will be others around to help with technique if you need. Another besides, it is an outdoor brick mural. It will look different no matter what we come up with.”
I repied, “Thank you for the glimmer and push.”
LizBeth: “My Pleasure. Sending you an email of my submissions to the pod. I couldn’t make up my mind. See we all have that wall. Healing arts.”
me: “…and Art Heals.”
It was at this point in the conversation that Natalie, one of the Art Circle founders and Pod Person, chimed in, “You gals are a blessing to me this morning. And always. Janean…I actually love the thought of an ‘upside down house’ or ‘house on a tilt’ for your submission. It is what it is but you are not without hope. Consider what that ‘looks’ like through imagery. A tilted home but a firm foundation? I don’t have any answers, but have a feeling I know Someone who does. What a statement that will be for years to come when God has brought you through this trial. A beautiful reminder of His love, mercy, and grace. A picture of hope. Love you!”
I replied, “Love you too, Natalie. Just have to decide and get it out of my head and onto paper. The two houses are already drawn in marker, crayon and colored pencil in my sketchbook from May 30 when it was still such new news. Even three weeks into it, the imagery is still accurate. I’ll puzzle through a submission. Wanna be on that wall. Will log off soon and get busy. Love YOU!”
A few days later, on June 18, 2011, I had this text conversation with Bekah, Art Circle co-founder and Pod Person.
Janean: “Is yellow a color for the mural?”
Bekah: “Yes, of course”
Janean: “Thanks. At the moment I am thinking of the center of the “Calvary’s Tree” triptych from Good Friday. Natalie mentioned a message of Hope…yes, I am over thinking…
Bekah: “No no no!! Love it!!!!!”
Janean: “Thanks for the encouragment. Working on it…”
So, it’s these two typed conversations that led to “Calvary’s Tree”, A Message of Hope, being painted on The Pod’s outer wall on a muggy Saturday morning in July. After the tumult of emotions from my husband’s diagnosis in May I needed that time set aside to paint on a brick wall. My poem, “I painted a prayer”, wrote itself later that same day.
Angel knew about the two houses I’d drawn in my sketchbook. A few weeks ago she e-mailed me a link to an artist’s website to explore, and asked if I’d made any more houses. On April 24, 2012 I replied, “I haven’t drawn any more houses since last Memorial Day weekend when one was upside down and one was on tilt.”
Angel wrote, “I think those two said it all. They could work for the show with some redemptive poems. I like the concept of SEEing the bad, but speaking the hope. I painted a Confident Hope painting today…the words. Hope to use it in liu of a post card for facebook advertising.”
I replied on April 25, 2012:
“Thank you, Angel for the encouragement in all things.
Part of my prickly mood is I haven’t made art in forever.
Hoping to break that pattern today.
I could go on and on about Hope.
My favorite doctor still is the one from June who began every sentence with, “I am hopeful.”
What a gift that was and is still.
After that appointment my husband said he was on board The Hope Train.
I have a conversation with Natalie from Facebook I could share about the two houses.
She pointed me up and reminded me our Hope was in the Lord.
That’s how “Calvary’s Tree” ended up on The Pod wall.
Pointing to the Lord.
My husband didn’t want sad sack doldrums from us, he wanted us to be a Light.
This is all so hard to process.
I have a humongous body of photos and poems from this past year.
Some from procedures.
Some hospital still lives.
The song Move Me, or something like that, got my attention yesterday.
In a good way.
I can do all things with God’s help.
Why do I forget that?!
“Good morning”, by the way.
On May 2, 2012 I wrote to Angel, “I’m ignoring the dishes and laundry and making art. Paper houses. Laying bricks. Roofing. Glad you nudged me to make these pieces. Even though I don’t think I can part with them to sell, but I can show them.”
“Life Upside Down”
12″ x 24″
watercolor and cut paper collage
“Life On Tilt”
12″ x 24″
watercolor and cut paper collage
I delivered them, completed and framed to her studio somewhere in the six o’clock evening hour on Thursday, May 3, 2012. “Calvary’s Tree I.” was shown alongside them with the poem, “I painted a prayer” written in July 2011.
THIS is Art Circle In Action. Propping one another up in love, prayer and encouragement in all things. THIS is how I came to make watercolor and cut paper collages of, “Life Upside Down” and “Life on Tilt” for the May 4th and 5th, 2012 Area Artist Showcase. Angel invited Art Circle artists and writers to show work with the theme, “A Confident Hope” in her downtown Bloomington studio. She patiently waited while I worked on my pieces right up the the last minutes and then a few seconds more…
At noon on May 4, 2012 (the day the show opened) I e-mailed these words to Angel. She had graciously given me until 2:00p.m. but I knew it needed to be The Next Thing I Did, after the morning whirl of taking my boys to school and a few Must Do Errands that followed.
“Too Young For This”
“I painted a prayer”
© 2012 Janean Baird, Turquoise Tangles
Art Circle of Bloomington-Normal
Angel Ambrose Fine Art Studio