Good morning, friends! It’s another rainy day here. The kids and I have been frustrated by the amount of rain this summer because it is messing up our swim time with friends! Major bummer. We are hoping for clear skies later today but it is not looking good at the moment. In the meantime, I thought I’d share another simple project from my art journal.
For this one, I wanted to talk a little about symbolism in art. Not because I am an expert or anything. But I have noticed my art (and my writing for that matter) tends to be filled with metaphor and symbolic meaning that is not always obvious to others. I am pretty sure this is the poetic part of me. I’ve always loved creative writing, so it makes sense this same style would be part of my painting as well. I looked up symbolism in art this morning on Wikipedia to get a working definition. There is a lot of historical detail there for anyone interested. All that was over my head and interest level. I pulled out this statement from the “Symbolist Manifesto” to give you an idea of what I am talking about: “Symbolists believed that art should represent absolute truths that could only be described indirectly. Thus, they wrote in a very metaphorical and suggestive manner, endowing particular images or objects with symbolic meaning… its goal was to “clothe the Ideal in a perceptible form” whose “goal was not in itself, but whose sole purpose was to express the Ideal”.
I’ve noticed in my paintings that even the smallest details matter in determining how I will convey the thought symbolically. This project began like most of my journal pages, by identifying some key words that stood out to me. I marked the words “discovered” and “rest”. I painted over the rest of the page with gesso and then pressed plastic wrap into it while it was wet to create this texture:
The first thing I noticed is the word discovered was at the top of my page with rest underneath. The word placement on the page was itself symbolic in how the discovery of rest seems to descend. For this reason, I decided to paint a subject for the discovery to “land” on:
Notice how the word rest is part of her head. This symbolically suggests the rest is in her mind: thoughts, emotions, etc. I love how the placement of one word can dramatically convey such powerful truth. Next I colored her hair with raw umber and painted the shadows, depths of her face. Here’s a picture of that:
She looks kind of creepy at this point. I am noticing my preference in painting faces is to freely paint the shades before I sketch details of eyes, nose, mouth. I use the paint shading in places where her facial features will ultimately be, and have noticed the features seem to emerge by approaching a face this way. The shading helps me “see” her facial details, if that makes sense.
The next image shows you her facial details, which include closed eyes to go with our theme of resting. I painted the background and top of her dress with soft colors to illustrate a restful state. All of this was fairly straightforward:
I needed to convey what it was that caused her to discover rest. I thought of the verse, “And by Him we cry Abba, Father. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:15, 16). In my book , I describe this truth in Chapter 4, Tunneling Truth. I note this as the “foundation of true rest and the springboard of new life”. Next, I stamped the word “she” and “Abba Father” to represent this truth:
Notice how Abba Father follows the curve of her head. This is again symbolic of the idea of this truth taking shape in her mind and bringing her rest. It is the knowledge that she is God’s child that settles her in rest. Simple statement, powerful life-changing truth. I also added some edging to my page to give it a frame. Here is a close up the final page:
Symbolism in a page is one of the many joys I experience in art journaling. I encourage you to think about even the smallest details like word placement and curvature. A small thing can convey a big truth in a simple, yet profound way. Beautiful.
I hope today “She discovered rest” has encouraged you to take Abba Father deeper into your heart and mind. To allow the knowledge that through Jesus we become God’s children, and to allow that truth to settle you into rest. If you have not yet known God as your Father, I pray today you will draw near to Him in seeking prayer. Ask God to give you a revelation of who He is, who His Son Jesus is, and to take to heart the truth that “to all who receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).