Monday, August 15, 2016

'The Artist' - A Blog About Time

The Artist: Oil on canvas by Avril Thomas.
Used with permission 

My husband, Marc, and I recently celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. We booked a gorgeous B&B at McLaren Vale and snuggled together in the warmth as the wind blasted rain against the windows. It was great to spend quality time together in this cosy retreat.
      When we checked out on Sunday morning we decided to look at some art galleries. We considered a list of local galleries but in the end we only braved the weather to take in one exhibition, that of South Australian artist, Avril Thomas, at Magpie Springs winery in Willunga.
     Avril’s works are striking. I immediately liked the large portrait of South Australian politician, Alexander Downer, and a series of paintings commissioned by the Flinders Medical Centre. These are unusual: Oil paintings of medical professionals, including doctors and nurses working in an operating theatre.  I enjoy Avril’s ‘tonal realism’ style and the humanity that seems to imbibe her work.
     But there was one painting that stood out for me. The Artist (pictured above) depicts a woman in the act of creating. Colours on her palate stream onto brushes and onto the canvas as the woman paints an image of herself in the act of painting. On first impression I thought it a passionate, unusual work, but then I saw the small hourglass in the lower right quadrant of the painting.
     The beauty of art, whatever its form, is that it can pierce us in that place which is the core of who we are. It doesn’t matter whether the medium is oil paint or music or words, art can get inside us and bring conviction. The small hourglass in the painting suggests that time is passing. The notes to the side of the painting explain that the hourglass symbolises the finite nature of time – the artist only has so many days to do the things they’ve been made to do.
     As I looked at this painting I sensed that God was speaking to me. ‘Are you doing what I made you to do?’
     The conviction didn’t come with judgement. There was no, ‘Come on Susan, you need to do more. MORE!’ It came instead with a sweet sense of grace. I’m in the middle of my life and God has spoken things over me along the way: A call to ministry, a call to write and I think to visual art as well. He has given me some wonderful promises that have budded but are yet to fully flower and fruit.  Am I tending those promises as fully as I can? God reminded me that the time available to do that is finite. I need to seek his face and make some tough decisions.
     In Ecclesiastes 3:1 it says there’s a time for everything under the sun. So I don’t think Jesus wants us to drop everything and make our art the sole priority. There’s a right time and place for everything. But I sense that for some reading this, like me, God is saying, ‘You’ve been patient, you’ve waited, now it’s time to do the things you've been made for.’
     What things has God put on your heart to do?





Sue Jeffrey was born in Scotland but moved to Brisbane, Australia with her family when she was just a wee lass. After a childhood spent reading, drawing and accumulating stray animals, Sue studied veterinary science and later moved to Adelaide where she worked as both a vet and a pastor. After a sojourn of several years in the Australian Capital Territory, Sue returned to Adelaide with two dogs, a very nice husband, and a deepdesire to write. Sue has a MA in creative writing and her short stories and poems have appeared in several anthologies including Tales of the Upper RoomSomething in the Blood: Vampire Stories With a Christian Bite and Glimpses of Light. Her e-book Ruthless The Killer: A Short Story is available on Amazon.com. Sue also paints animal portraits.


22 comments:

  1. Beautiful post Sue. Thank you. That picture is certainly one worth gazing at at drinking in. Loved how striking it is and what it conveys. I would have missed that hourglass so thank you for explaining what it means. A great reminder. I confess I like to take it easy in life sometimes - so need a nudge from God from time to time to push me further.

    Interestingly I'm having a coffee with a church friend this morning and I believe I'm going to be asked to take part in more ministry in church. I felt a wee bit anxious about it - seeing my time is filled out nicely the way I like it. Reading your blog reminded me how important it is to be available. Time is short. Our lives our short. So if God calls us to anything, we need to jump on board don't we?

    Thank you Sue and all the best with your creative life.

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  2. I've just realised I should have put in a thank you to Avril Thomas for allowing me to use an image of her work here :)

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  3. Thanks for a inspiring post Sue - and such a wonderful painting. A bit thank you too for Avril Thomas giving permission to use her work. I love the paining & I love the point both you and Avril make about there being only so much time. It's easy to give other things priority perhaps because we feel 'selfish' focusing on our art, but if that's what God has called us to do, then maybe'it’s time to do the things you've been made for.’ I like that.

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    1. Thanks, Jenny. It's always hard to seperate the important and the urgent - and even harder to put creative pursuits in the pace of the important.😊

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  4. I enjoyed your post very much Sue. I'm going through a time of reassessing what God actually wants from me as well. I think we all have a tendency to stray from His will a little from time to time and take on too much which doesn't help us to be effective in using the gifts He has given us.

    I'm so thankful for His infinite patience with me. All the best with your endeavours for,His Kingdom. May we all keep seeking His will for our lives.

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    1. I'm glad of his infinite patience too!

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  5. Thanks Sue. Beautiful and inspiring.

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  6. Inspirational, Sue! I am one of many who have been struggling with understanding, accepting, and finding their 'fit' in God's economy. Thanks too for the tip off regarding Avril's exhibition.

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    1. Yes, it's definitely worth a look. Have a coffee at Magpie Springs and a wee taste of their wine too :). I still get in a bit of a funk about my fit. Even today after writing this I had all these doubts. I'm glad God is patient and kind.

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  7. It's great when you finally find what God wants you to do. :-)

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    1. I still find the mix hard to get right! :)

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  8. That hour glass came at the right time for me too... I was about to overthrow a project I had been working on, not seeing enough potential for it, but then, just today, the Lord showed me a different and better way to capture its essence, making it more productive, and on top of it all, less time consuming. He is so good! Thanks for the post, Sue. PS: I enjoyed your animal portraits. You have a talent for capturing their personalities :)

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    1. Thanks, I enjoy painting animals. I haven't done many recently as I've had bursitis in my shoulder but I need to get back into it.

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  9. What beautiful thoughts and a beautiful image. Thanks for challenging us to ask the same thing for ourselves, Sue.

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  10. Love that image of her. SO jealous of her talent. Although, I do great clay pottery. I guess it evens out. Your post inspired me. And I wasted a lot of days in the past three months. Never again. Thank you.

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  11. P.S. Happy Anniversary, late as it may be.

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  12. Hi Sue, thanks for that great reminder that we are made for somthing greater than our jobs- important as they are. And the reminder to be good stewards of both our gifts and our time. Blessings on you

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  13. Loved your post. Such a gorgeous reflection. Thanks for sharing. ❤️

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