|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 Room, Something 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.