One of the women expressing herself through painting.
I had heard about how the imagination is the last part of the brain to die. Today I saw with my own eyes the miracle of that truth. I held a Creative Expression Class for three elderly women in a retirement home this morning. They could hardly talk or hear and were wheelchair bound. Two of them kept falling asleep in their chairs. I placed a paper in front of them and asked them to choose the watercolors they wanted to use in their paintings. That’s when they woke up and pointed to the various colored watercolor tubes. I squeezed them out onto their paper plates. I drew a large circle on their papers and told them they could paint whatever they wanted inside the circle. Once they chose the color they wanted to start with, I prepared a paint-filled paintbrush for them.
I was not prepared for what followed. Once I placed the paintbrush in their hand, they came to life. They scooted closer to their paper and began applying the paint to the paper. For about 25 minutes they were focused and alert… they were painting. They decided where to put the paint, what colors to use and they created a painting.
Something clicked for them as they felt that paintbrush in their hands. That creative part of their brain turned on and they utilized their imagination.
Being creative is natural to all of us because we are made in God’s image and He is The Creator. It’s in our DNA to be creative. But this morning I saw that reality unfold before me.
When each woman finished their painting, they sighed and signed their work. Their paintings will be laminated by the staff so they can look at their creations.
I look forward to the next class with them. They may not even remember painting today but when I place that paintbrush in their hand again, the paint will flow once more and their creativity will come alive again. That watercolor brush is truly amazing!
To see some of my paintings go to www.etsy.com/shop/expressivepaintings or
Throughout the years that I’ve been painting I’ve often contemplated how we ourselves are like a painting. Our lives sometimes don’t make any sense… just like a painting when an artist is first starting. The dark shadows in a painting as well as the dark times in our lives give the light and the joyful times a place to burst forth with clarity and beauty. It is always comforting to remember that God is not finished with painting us… we are a work in progress. As I was praying about what to post today on my blog, the Lord reminded me of a piece I wrote a several years ago. So here it is….
“You Are A Masterpiece”
IMAGINE…that you are a canvas. You are blank. Nothing has touched you until now. You are lying on a table in the Master Painter’s art studio. He comes over to you and picks you up and you feel His touch. He places you securely on his easel. He has been thinking about what He is going to paint on you for a long time. His thoughts and feelings about you have been stirring in His heart since the beginning of time. He is now ready to begin His masterpiece. He opens his paint box and takes out his brushes. Now He begins to mix His paints. you smell the turpentine and the linseed oil. With a charcoal stick He sketches the drawing for His painting with precision and skill. He steps back to take a look at His work. He smiles and says, “It is good”.
Next He picks up a paint brush and saturates it with paint. He paints the first stroke. You feel His touch through the brush. More brush strokes – each one strategically placed. Back and forth, up and down. You feel the cool paint brushed upon you. Pigments of color, bright yellow, blues and burnt umber begin to fill your surface. The Master Painter begins to sing as He paints. He sings over you. All He sees is you… His emerging creation. you look into the Master Painter’s eyes. He is focused. His gaze is locked onto you. From deep within Him you emerge. You cannot see yet what you look like, but you see the pleasure in His eyes. After days of painting you, He is finally finished. He signs His name on you. He steps back and sighs deeply. You, His masterpiece are finished. He smiles and says, “This is good. This is very good.”
You are God’s masterpiece. You reflect a part of the beauty of God, for you have been made in His image (Genesis 1:26). There is no other person exactly like you on the face of the earth. You are one of a kind, an original. God loves you deeply.
This is an example of my work on Yupo paper painted in 2012
For the last seven years I’ve been painting almost exclusively on Yupo paper. “Yupo” prounounced “you poe” with the emphasis on the “you”, is a slick, synthetic white paper that lends itself to lots of experimentation. The paint is not absorbed into the paper like most papers, instead it evaporates. That’s how it dries. And the wonderful thing is that while the paint is wet, you can move it around and manipulate it. Probably even more amazing is that the paint will do unexpected things completely on its own. Due to the slick surface, the paint tends to move and not stay where you’ve placed it.
Now, I love that part about Yupo paper. But there are some artists that really don’t like that unpredictability. As an artist painting on Yupo, I have to give up a great amount of control and just see what the paint is going to do. For that reason I never know what I’m going to paint when I start a painting. I choose some colors, turn on my CD player and start listening to worship music and begin applying the paint to the paper. Over the years I’ve learned various techniques and have come up with a few of my own. As I “play” with the paint I eventually see an image and then further define it. If the image doesn’t work out, it’s not a problem. I just wipe it off and start over.
I first learned about Yupo paper from an abstract artist named Paul Kirby who is a member at Hanover Area Art Guild in Hanover, PA. He was demonstrating how he blew acrylic ink with an atomizer onto Yupo paper.
This is an example of a painting of how I used to paint before Yupo paper.
I was fascinated. When he said he was giving a class, I immediately signed up. I took two classes from him and fell in love with this amazing paper. My brain is always looking for images. I see images in clouds and trees and random things. It’s not something I have much control over. There is no doubt in my mind that the use of Yupo paper opened up a whole new world and expression for my creativity. My style completely changed when I started painting on Yupo. Prior to Yupo, my work was comprised of realistic portraits painted from photos. I painted on canvas with acrylics and sometimes oils. Now my work is comprised of people, but mostly women. And their faces tend not to have features at all. If I don’t see the features of the face, I don’t put them in. Unintentionally, I developed a style that is unique and recognizable by most people. That was a nice benefit of painting on Yupo.
What is Yupo paper? It is the vehicle that God has used to allow my imagination to fly and be seen. What previously was only in my mind is now painted with acrylic inks, acrylic paints and gouache on hundreds of paintings. If you haven’t tried Yupo paper, I would highly recommend you try. If you live near Hanover, PA, I will be teaching two workshops on Feb 22, and March 1st at Hanover Area Art Guild. Contact HAAG to register. Their website is www.hanoverareaarts.com Their number is 717 632-2521 No previous art experience is necessary, just the ability to “see”.
- Artist and Maker: Elly MacKay (munrosheadesigns.com)
- Part 1: Direction (junerollins.wordpress.com)