Walter (T.W.) Lawrence: Everybody Has a Story

TW Lawrence photoAuthor Walter Lawrence grew up in Texas, where his father practiced veterinary medicine and his mother taught nursing. He and his sister were raised in a family that valued the origin and meaning of words.

He majored in English in college and later earned a Masters of Arts in Professional Writing. Walter has published numerous freelance magazine and newspaper articles, and both his poetry and short stories have won numerous awards.

“Everybody has a story. One of the reasons I talk to strangers is to find out what cool story they have to tell me. When I’m writing, my mind pulls up those stories and I’m able to use them. People cross your path for a reason and you don’t always know what it is at the start.” ~Walter (T.W.) Lawrence TW Lawrence Dusty and the Cowboy

Listen to Walter’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Walter’s latest artistic venture has been to write and record stories specifically as audio downloads on Audible and iTunes.

He says, “Upon reflection, I was divinely led to create this series of short stories called Dusty and the Cowboy. The door was opened and I had sense enough to step through. After hearing an audio recording of Dusty, the first story in the series, I realized the unnamed cowboy was me. The cowboy was looking for direction, asked for divine help and began his journey. It’s interesting to see the doors that have opened. I’m following the path to see where it takes me.”

He recently made his first Nashville recording to be used as the theme song to the audio of Dusty and the Cowboy. Walter writes under the pen name T.W. Lawrence.

TW Lawrence Take Me To TexasWalter’s advice for other writers, “Be yourself—you have to find your voice. To do that, you have to listen and trust the voice inside of you. You have let go of this world and open yourself up to the world of creativity and the world of divinity.”

Visit www.projectdusty.com for a free download of the short story Dusty. On Amazon and Audible, find printed and audio books by Walter (aka T.W. Lawrence) with titles Take Me To Texas, T.W. Lawrence’s Cowboy Collection and Dusty and the Cowboy. Audio books are also available on iTunes. TW Lawrence Cowboy Collection

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Sharron Ragan: Become Inspired by the Process of Painting

SRagan picSharron Ragan is an entrepreneur, artist, business leader and visionary who literally throws herself into her work emotionally, physically and spiritually. She is an awarding winning artist and has commissioned work at several corporate offices including Coca-Cola, and private collections.

As an abstract expressionist Sharron paints intuitively using vibrant acrylic colors and contemporary techniques. She also leads inspirational creative development programs for businesses, organizations, and individuals on how to tap into their inner creative expression and passions with painting. As a new-thought creative leader, Sharron has been recognized for blending ancient wisdom and creativity programs with contemporary business.

Emerging

Emerging

“I paint in an intuitive, expressive style and teach workshops on how to use this style to develop your creativity. It doesn’t matter WHAT you paint. Painting opens up a creative part of yourself that you might not have known you have. Become inspired by the process of painting—the color, the vibrancy of the color, and the movement of the paintbrush on the paper.” ~Sharron Ragan

Listen to Sharron’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

She began her studies in art in college and transitioned into a corporate career in advertising and marketing. After 25-years as a corporate marketing executive with several Fortune 500 companies including Wendy’s and Coca-Cola she returned to expanding her fine art skills as a professional artist and entrepreneur.

Sharron says, “With every painting, I start with a moment of silence. I ask that I am connected to whatever I’m going to create and that it is created for the highest good. I set an intention that anyone who sees it will be inspired and helped in some way.”

Her business Blue Frog Creative Network focuses on Branding, Marketing and Creative Expression providing programs for Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, and Artists.

Sharron has been featured in national media, radio, TV and magazines as a leader in creativity and intuitive mastery. She has inspired thousands of professionals to seek personal fulfillment and business purpose by awakening their creativity and following their intuition. She says, “It is my personal journey to help people recognize they are creative. Once your mind opens to your creativity, the universe brings you more ideas and more information.”

A Paint Journey Weekend

A Paint Journey Weekend

She volunteers her time to various non-profit organizations and also leads art retreats.  As a speaker on creativity she has been featured at corporations, national conventions and universities nationwide.  She lives in the Atlanta area.

Visit www.thepaintjourney.com to find out more about upcoming expressive painting workshops. Find out more about Sharron and links to her on social media at www.SharronRagan.com.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Margery Kellar: Being Aware of Messages I Receive

Margery Kellar picStained glass artist Margery (Cunningham) Kellar grew up in Indiana and graduated from Ball State University with a BS in Art Education. After moving to Atlanta, she worked for the state of GA in Fulton County’s Adult Protective Services. Margery retired in 2011 and now has more time to create stained glass art.

 “I’m open to the fact that there is a God and that all I have to do is be aware of the messages that I’m receiving. I feel like I have a special Angel that gives me ideas. Sometimes ideas come in dreams or when I first wake up in the morning. At other times, they come throughout the day—when I’m driving or when I’m looking through a catalog. Ideas come all the time—I just have to act on them. And when I don’t, my Angel gives me another nudge.” ~Margery Kellar MKellar 4MKellar 1

Listen to Margery’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

She first took classes in stained glass art at the Spruill Center for the Arts in Dunwoody, GA. She is now an assistant at Spruill, helping instructor, Anne Rambo, teach new students.

Margery exhibits at craft fairs, is commissioned to create custom pieces, and is available to repair a client’s treasured stained glass art.

MKellar Celtic3She says, “Everything about stained glass attracts me. Lately, I’ve been creating Celtic knots—they twist and turn and are so beautiful when the sun shines through. Intricate Celtic knots were originally created out of stone or metal and were placed at the entrances of buildings to keep the devil occupied. The idea was that he was too busy trying to find the beginning and end of the strand that creates the knot to come inside. I enjoy taking Celtic knot designs from the seventh, eighth and ninth centuries and reproducing them in stained glass.”

MKellar Celtic2Margery is widowed and has three children. Visit www.atlantaglassart.com to find out more about Margery’s work.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Sunmoon Pie: Everything Can Be Sacred

Sunmoon Pie features the duo of singer-songwriters Bonnie Puckett on piano & Michael Levine on guitar.

Sunmoon Pie features the duo of singer-songwriters Bonnie Puckett on piano & Michael Levine on guitar.

Sunmoon Pie is an Atlanta-based Jewish music group, writing and performing a blend of spiritual and sometimes quirky songs that explore the human condition through the lens of Jewish & Kabbalistic themes—with a focus on meditative Kirtan-style Hebrew chanting inspired by the Jewish liturgy. The artists of Sunmoon Pie say, “We take Jewish prayers and add melodies—hopefully adding a new spirit to these prayers that have been said by Jews around the world for centuries.”

“Everything can be sacred. Our name, Sunmoon Pie, represents our quirkiness and combines the sacred and the mundane together. You don’t have to change your sense of humor to be spiritual.” ~Sunmoon Pie Sunmoon Pie logo

Sunmoon Pie features the duo of singer-songwriters Bonnie Puckett on piano & Michael Levine on guitar. Listen to the Sunmoon Pie Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Bonnie is an employment attorney with the law firm of Ogletree Deakins, and sings with the female a cappella group Octave.  Bonnie and Michael regularly lead alternative services at Ahavath Achim synagogue, which feature Sunmoon Pie’s original music and recently, prayers set to the music of famous artists such as the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and U2.

Bonnie says, “Music is a way to express spirituality within Judaism and also to build bridges to other forms of spirituality. It expands the concept of the oneness of God.”

Michael is a cofounder of the children’s music education company The Learning Groove and a music producer.  He is also a former winner of the prestigious Eddie’s Attic Open Mic Shootout and has won many songwriting & music production awards.

A singer-songwriter for many years, Michael says, “I always wrote about spiritual themes, but only since I met Bonnie have I been writing expressly Jewish songs while borrowing from other traditions, like creating Kirtan-style chants. It’s really cool to write the songs, then to sing them as a prayer in a meditative environment that serves others.”

Find out more about Bonnie, Michael and their music at www.sunmoonpie.com. Watch of a video of Sunmoon Pie performing an original Hebrew kirtan melody to Shiru L’Adonai.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Michael Belk: God’s Project

Michael Belk picDuring the past 30 years, Michael Belk’s photography has appeared in fashion publications including Vogue, Elle, GQ and Vanity Fair for clients that included Nautica, J.Crew and others.

Combining his gift for photography with a natural sense for sales and marketing savvy, Michael created a boutique fashion-advertising agency, Michael Belk & Company. He says his work has primarily been about doing something he loved while traveling the world, working with many great models and crews in the industry. Michael later owned a fine art photography gallery in Florida. MBelk 2246

In 2008, Michael began a project to produce a collection of fine art photographs that would depict messages of Jesus and show His relevance in our modern world. Published in late 2009, Journeys with the Messiah, consists of 45 images and the “parable-like” messages they depict.

“I felt a desire and prompting to create this series of photographs depicting the messages of Christ. In the end, it isn’t about the images—it’s about my relationship with God. He is the Creator. When I get carried away about the project from a business standpoint or from a creative standpoint, I stand back and take a breath. Then say to myself, ‘Not my project, His project. He’s just letting me work on it.’” ~Michael Belk

Listen to Michael’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

MBelk 2263He says, “I sensed that religion has given Jesus Christ a bad rap. Jesus didn’t come to start a religion. He came to testify to the unusual truth of his Father and how that frees us up to live these incredible lives while we’re here on earth. I wanted to show that Jesus’ message is relevant today—for people to realize that they can embrace Jesus for who he is rather than fear him.”

The images have been interpreted beyond the limited-edition, signed & numbered fine art original to include a coffee table book, behind the scenes DVD, posters and more. Michael travels to churches and other venues to present the images in an exciting audio/visual presentation. An exhibit and more images are planned.

With nearly 100 people on the team assembled to create the images for Journey with the Messiah, Michael believes in the power of collaboration. He says, “I learned in the fashion industry that Michael Belk taking a picture does not make the picture. It’s the collaborative effort of good hair and makeup people. Good costuming people. Good lighting people. Great assistance. Great producers. All of those things come together. God tells me what the idea is, but I’m always looking for ideas from people working with me as we’re putting the details of an image together. A collaborative effort is the most fun by far.” MBelk 2273

Visit www.thejourneysproject.com to view the gallery of fine art photographs created for Journeys with the Messiah. Watch the four-minute video that beautifully shares the story of creating these photos as they were shot in the Italian city of Matera.

See more of Michael’s work, including his fashion photography, at www.michaelbelk.com.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Janine Hoefler: Worlds Open Up

Janine bio photoJanine Hoefler is a painter, photographer, lecturer and teacher.  She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arcadia University and has taught art classes to both children and adults.

 “I’ve always had a real sense of empathy and sensitivity so whenever I can be quiet, worlds just open up. I find that Spirit talks to me and translates into my paintings. My art is a manifestation of Spirit.” ~Janine Hoefler inner-vision

Listen to Janine’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Along with her career as a painter, Janine is an award-winning photographer and a speaker. She teaches individuals to take emotionally meaningful photos and how to bring families together with photography.

She has been a member of both the Bon Air Artists’ society in Virginia as well as the Professional Photographers of America. Now working primarily in watercolors, Janine says, “There is a certain spontaneity with watercolors—it’s the quality of the unexpected that I enjoy.”

Lucy-HoundcatJanine is the owner of Jazzy’s Smile Animal Painting and Photography, which is created to explore the love, joy and peace and spirit that animals provide to us every day. She says, “My family has been involved in animal rescue for many years. Pets are healers—a great respite from the intensity of life. People are transformed through relationships with pets.”

Janine currently resides in Virginia with her husband, two children and two loving and very opinionated dogs.

nap-timeVisit www.jazzyssmile.com to find out more about Janine and view a gallery of her paintings and photographs. “Like” her Facebook page for the stories behind her most recent art.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Crystal Slagley: My Cakes Represent Joy

Crystal Slagley picCrystal Slagley is an award-winning cake concept artist. She holds fifteen certificates in a variety of cake decorating techniques, including a master’s certificate in sugarpaste, royal icing, and sugar flowers. Crystal is one of only ten people in the United States to have this exclusive certification. CSlagley1

 “When my son was six-years-old, he was diagnosed with leukemia. The first cake I created was three years later to celebrate the end of his chemotherapy. Making that cake celebrated all the emotions that I have for my son—love, appreciation, amazement and joy. Every time I create a cake, I’m helping a family have the same joy that I have because of my son. I help them celebrate a milestone like a birthday or anniversary or help them make a friend feel special. What an amazing gift!” ~Crystal Slagley

Listen to Crystal’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

She goes on to say, “We learned CSlagley3a lot through my son’s cancer. Things like fear and medical jargon, but also things like hope and joy. My art helps me remember the positive lessons.”

Crystal is constantly seeking to educate herself on the newest, most exciting cake decorating techniques in the industry. Her attention to detail, educational experiences, and natural artistry all blend together to make her an amazing creative cake artisan.

CSlagley5She says, “When I learn a new technique, I get ideas and explore them to make the technique my own. I recently took a class on using gelatin. It can be used to make flowers and other decorations that you can see through. Using that technique, I created bubbles for a child’s birthday cake. Now, I’m working on a cake design inspired by Dale Chihuly’s glass art to have brightly colored spikes that resemble blown glass. Even when I’m not working on a client’s cake, I’m still learning and trying something new.”

CSlagley2Find out more about Crystal and see a gallery of her cake designs at www.crystalscreativecakes.net. “Like” her Facebook page for the most recent postings of creative cakes.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Burke Ingraffia: Participating in God’s Creation

Burke Ingraffia picBurke Ingraffia is a southern singer/songwriter who writes jazzy folk music, or perhaps folky jazz music.

He grew up in New Orleans and now gets his mail a couple of hours away in Alabama. He plays and writes using the jazz structures commonly found in New Orleans and emphasizes that feel with the leisurely wisdom of the Deep South. He also has a folk/Americana side with less 7th chords and more story lines.

 “I approach songwriting as a receptive process—positioning myself to receive something. I’m participating in God’s creation more than actively creating myself.” ~Burke Ingraffia

Listen to Burke’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Although he doesn’t do liturgical or “praise and worship” music, Burke has been featured on EWTN’s Life on the Rock and Backstage. On these shows, he performed songs he wrote about St. Francis of Assisi and on the themes of a Catholic worldview such as forgiveness, mystery, and the contingency of our lives. BIngraffia Jazz Animals

He says, “The Catholic church has a liturgical calendar with a different patron saint every day. Sometimes when I’m looking for inspiration, I’ll study the saint for that day and see what the themes of their life were. Then I take those words and ideas and turn them into music.”

In addition to writing and performing, Burke owns a web design and marketing business. He says, “I got into web development and marketing through doing it for my own music. I taught myself how to design websites and how to integrate multimedia into the web. These technical skills have turned into my day job. My music is always play—it’s creativity for creativity’s sake.”

jacoverlargesquare-300x300Burke’s most recent album, Jazz Animals, was released in August 2011. He was a finalist in 2012 for the Kerrville New Folk award. Find out more Burke and his music at www.jazzanimals.com.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Jim Duggan: I’m Closest to God When I’m Carving

Jim Duggan pic smJim Duggan has been carving ice in the Atlanta area for twenty years. He started his sculpting career after graduating from the Culinary Art program at the Art Institute of Atlanta in 1991, the first graduating class of the school. Jim worked with chefs who allowed him to study the field of ice sculpture. He soon left the kitchen to work full time in the art of ice sculpture.

 “I feel closest to God when I have a chainsaw in my hands and I’m cutting. It’s a spiritual thing for me and I meditate as I carve. I’ve been carving for so long now, I’m not thinking as much as I work. I tune everything out and reflect—I can really work through a lot of problems when I’m carving.” ~Jim Duggan

Listen to Jim’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Eight years ago, Jim founded ICE Sculpture, INC. He has provided sculptures to events hosting President Carter, President Bush, Snoop Dogg, The Thrashers, Tuskegee Airmen, Madonna, NHL All Star Game, and more. Jim’s favorite event each year is carving ice for Atlanta Motor Speedway and NASCAR.  He has also designed and created ice for two movies. Star Light Star Bright

Jim says, “Ice carving is a temporary medium and ice has a life of its own. There’s the production—the creative process where you create the sculpture. But once you set it out, the ice tempers and frosts up, then it starts to melt. As an ice carver, I’m creating something that I know is going to change. It should look best an hour after it begins to melt. I want guests to get the ‘wow factor’ as they walk in. As the sculpture melts, it starts to disappear. It’s turning back into water and the circle will begin all over again.”

Jim is a founding member of the Atlanta Ice Marvels. The team has twice placed in the Top 5 at the Ice Carving World Championships in Alaska. They are competing in the 2013 competition beginning February 26th.

He says, “My competitors are my teammates for the Alaska competition. It’s a tight-knit group. If one of us is having a problem, we help each other out. The ice sculpting industry in Atlanta used to be really cutthroat, but after we started going to Alaska, we saw that we need each other. No company can do everything. You might sell a job and need other companies to help you—people you can count on.”

AIM 5th placeFor the last ten years, Jim has taught the art of ice sculpture part-time in conjunction with the culinary arts program at Chattahoochee Technical College. When he has free time, Jim likes to carve woodcarvings for friends and family.

Find out more about Jim and his ice sculpture art at ICE Sculpture, INC. Like his page on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Suzanne Halvorson: Weaving is My True North

Suzanne Halvorson picSuzanne Halvorson is a textile studio artist and partner in By Hand Gallery (IN). In 2012, she was a Visiting Lecturer at Indiana University School of Fine Arts, and at Earlham College (IN) and will be teaching at Purdue University for the 2013 fall semester. She has taught weaving workshops at Penland School of Craft (NC), Ghost Ranch (NM), Grunewald Guild (WA), and at HGA’s Convergence (CA) and for countless weaver’s guilds and conferences. Her work is published in Handwoven, Shuttle, Spindle, and Dyepot, and Weaving for Worship.

 “My art is my spiritual evolution. Weaving is my true north and without it I don’t know who I would be — I consider it my calling. It keeps me seeing the world as a hopeful place. I look for beauty and inspiration every day.” ~Suzanne Halvorson HALVORSON_2_warp_weft_face_bamboo_2007_display

Listen to Suzanne’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

She goes on to say, “Weaving is what I call active meditation. Every step of the process is slow and intentional — it is very calming. There are times when I’m weaving, when I am really in the zone and completely connected to the work, that everything else disappears.” SHalvorson IndigoBamboo

Find out more about Suzanne at www.suzannehalvorson.com. Her work is represented by: By Hand Gallery, Bloomington, IN; Marigold Arts, Santa Fe NM; Penland Gallery, Penland, NC; Columbus Visitor’s Center, Columbus, IN; and Spear’s Gallery, Nashville, IN.

SHalvorson 1

Pastor Lyle McKee, from St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Bloomington, IN, is modeling the chausble.

Her liturgical line is entirely by commission. Suzanne says, “I’m learning to say ‘No’ to commissions that may not be in harmony with where I want to go with my work. I choose the ones that I accept based on if I can do something new — something that inspires me. It’s not just the same old thing.”

SHalvorson 2

Lenten tent created to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of their sanctuary at Peach Lutheran Church in Danville, CA.

Suzanne will be teaching summer workshops “Weaving Explorations” (July 8 – 13) at Ghost Ranch and “Dyeing to Weave” (July 22 – 27) at Grunewald Guild. These workshops are for weavers of all levels.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!