So often I feel I am at the beginning of new, untested things. My active faith is the only thing that checks me from the despair I sense so often clouding around me. My heart responds to glimpses and quickenings. My eyes sometimes catch a beautiful flare, and then something deeper seems to move inside me like little wings. I am so glad to be a woman for I know already what that is about. I am eternally grateful to be anchored to Jesus, because there is nothing that is going to come down that He will not use as material toward the final resolution. It’s all His. This quiets me.

I have been reading Robert Henri too. This art teacher from a century ago has much that still resonates. He said that all art speaks, that all art (good art) is like sign posts. How come I never read this guy before? I believed this before and after it was fashionable. It probably still is unfashionable, who cares? I care. I hope to go to dust caring. I hope to record some of the signs before that. Henri taught that students would better craft if their model was in another room, so that they had to place on their canvas only the sense of what moved them from within as they had interacted and been pressed inwardly by the outer model. He was trying to train them away from copying and move into deeply mining the sensibility that was theirs uniquely. That is good advice. This prompts me then to post two little studies for comment.

This first I am calling for now: March Vision. It arose out of views that fed me as I drove through Southern VA in March. I wrote about that previously. This is the best I have of that so far.
This next study I am calling April Gesture. This took one fourth the time of the other one, it happened on site and as can be seen, very quickly. I have some opinions about these pieces, but I am going to hold them in check for now, for I am not sure yet what is coming further from this kind of work.

7 thoughts on “quickening

  1. James

    Hello Dear Friend!

    You said you were fed by your time driving through Southern VA. More than mere exposure, it seems as Henri would suggest, this experience came alive in you and brought life to your canvas. Just as each of us respond differently to touch, sound, and smell, each of us see and remember, and respond to memories very differently. Those responses are locked accordingly into each of our hearts and minds and are expressed in the way we talk about them and describe them or in your case, paint them. And certainly over time those memories from which we are continually fed, as you said “take on wings” and likely are not the best representation of what we actually saw but how we now feel about those moments. They are great reflections of how they made us feel.

    However, in the second piece you seem to be recording more what you see and less how you feel. Likely, this picture is a better representation of reality but contains less human creativity, feeling, emotion, and memory. Perhaps you still felt “fed” in the moment. But because your painting was done on site, that memory didn’t have time to take on new life and further develop and feed your journey.

    So glad dear friend that our Father created you in His image, a creative artist breathing new life into the world that is around us. And that is worship, exhaling, giving God back the breath He has put in our lungs.

  2. Green Xia

    First let me say Hello to James above, is that the one I met in China? So long time no see all of you. Before I explore the art world on your website, Quikening couldn’t be recognized as its real meaning to a easten like me. I have no idea to comment a piece of art, just those beautiful colour melting and combining together in a comfortable way. All vocabulary like quikening, lightening, rebirth, refresh, those sounds encouraged and joyful exsist there for us to feel. I love to learn them not as a foreign language, so the effort of being lively while I’m alive.

  3. Mary B. Nees Post author

    Thank you James and Green! Green: the word “quickening” is used when a woman is pregnant with the beginning of something alive inside her, but she only knows that fact by little hints of knowledge. But when she first FEELS the tiny movement inside her (that she knows is not her but something else) that is called quickening. I love the word, I love what it means and represents. I want to learn to paint like that meaning! Thanks you two for commenting.

  4. Elly

    March is beautiful. It immediately gives me a sense of peace. Feels like a bit of calm after the storm- when you feel like you can finally rest and maybe even enjoy.

    April is not a pretty, but extreme depth to me. I think I like this one better? Looks like a strong wind; a feeling of freedom in the midst of grief; a certainty that He is sovereign.

  5. Delro Rosco

    Hi Mary,

    I connect with your statement about your “heart responds to glimpses” and that your “eyes sometimes catch a beautiful flare.” I too often receive fleeting moments and sometimes I don’t quite understand it until I realize it’s special, like a gift. It could be the way sunlight peers through the leaves or the rising malachite green colors of the evening sea. It’s been challenging and sort of a mission for me to capture these experiences in my work. As you shared from Henri, “only the sense of what moved them from within as they had interacted” and not copying but moving to what isuniquely mine has been such a challenge for me after being an illustrator (realism and copying) for the past 24 years. Now that I’m doing more deeply personal works based on my experiences and of the Holy Spirit moving within and prompting me, I am slowly learning to release and to receive. It can be quite liberating and scary at the same time.

    There’s something about your April Study that resonates with me. Perhaps there’s more for me to imagine and to receive but at the same time it feels grounded and secure. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Mary B. Nees Post author

    Hi sweet El, I agree. And lately have been wondering about why this deep desire is so difficult. I think I know the answer, but that too is beyond me and that… I think maybe is the point.
    Hi Delro, Thank you also for posting a comment. I cannot imagine what your eyes get to see where you live. Right now I am near Canada and the mist which veils familiar forms is wild with beauty. I just came off a workshop and my work there was pitiful. I am mining what I learned though, aiming to understand better how to do what I so want to do. You are right it is scary. I heard yesterday on the radio just a quick comment from a listener about a familiar piece of music, that it was so beautiful it always made her cry. Isn’t that amazing really, that beauty makes us cry! What is it pointing to?

  7. Delro Rosco

    Hi Mary, Beauty that makes us cry – Hmmm. Sometimes when engaged in the act of painting or observing something that lures me in, I think of the the depth of God’s love (for me and for others). That He would love me despite all my brokenness and a wretched man that I am. There’s been a few tears shed. His love not only carries me through, it upholds me and sustains me. I’m learning that even though the work may not quite reflect that kind of love through a critical artists eye, that as long as it was created in conscious love, it may have the potential to speak to others beyond what I can fathom. If then this type of creating takes place (and it has been on rare occasions), then I hope I have done my role as a servant to the work and ultimately God.


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