Roger Hutchison: Painting as Prayer

Roger Hutchison picArtist Roger Hutchison is Canon for Children’s Ministries at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia, SC. In his vocation, he has been privileged to gather around the Painting Table with those experiencing grief in a diverse variety of ways—everything from temporary housing, drug addiction, job loss, and poverty to the challenges and blessings of childhood and the elderly.

Your bio mentions that you are an artist that paints with his hands. Can you tell me more about how you create your art?

Late one evening, after my family had gone to bed, I found myself sitting at my Grandmother’s old kitchen table, which we had stored upstairs in our home after she died.

RHutchison 4I had been working on a painting for several evenings, and was getting more frustrated with it—and with myself. In a reactive—and what I now know was a moment of grace— I took my brushes, threw them into the trash and thrust my hands into the paint. I discovered what could only be described as a holy joy when I moved my fingers through the puddles of color and across the canvas. I was surprised—and blessed—by the conversation that followed. This experience of painting as prayer continued deep into the night and changed the trajectory of my life forever.

I am now an artist who paints only with my fingers.

What was ordinary became extraordinary. The same simple oak table where my Grandmother would serve us delicious meals from her garden was now my painting table . . . an altar of remembrance and healing, baptized with splashes of color and tears.

RHutchison1At what point in your life did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?

I am not really sure. I am still uncomfortable with that title.

How does your spirituality find expression in your art?

I am an artist. I find joy when I move my paint-covered fingers across a blank canvas that sits atop my painting table. This is the place where I go to pray. This is the place where I go to listen with my heart. This is the place where the fullness of my life settles down and I can “pay attention” to that still small voice.

Can you share a story of how creating your art expanded your awareness of God?

I was invited to travel to Newtown and Sandy Hook, Connecticut in May 2013 to paint with the children, families, and teachers at Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown.RHutchison 3

A third-grade girl told me she’d had a really bad day. Her painting was dark and frantic. I listened to her for a little while—then encouraged her to paint another one. The second painting was a bit more colorful. She took her two paintings and smashed them together. When she pulled them apart, the darkness had lifted . . . and she smiled. That’s when I saw light and love in her face.

I saw God.

How do you connect with divine flow when you are creating? Is it an intentional process that you can duplicate?

Painting is the way I talk to God. I find joy when I move my fingers through puddles of color and across blank canvas. I am always surprised—and blessed—by the conversation that takes place. It is never the same.

How do ideas come to you?

I approach painting as a form of prayer. I sit at my painting table for a while in silence—listening for that “still small voice.” I then begin to select my colors and enter into the process of translating my prayers into paintings. I never know what the outcome will be.

I am not a professionally trained artist. I did take a class or two in college, but I am mostly self-taught. I had tried painting with brushes, but they got in the way. Now I paint with my hands.

Simply put—I cherish the life I have been given and I searched a long time for a way to say thank you. When I sit at the painting table, I find that I am able to do
this in a way that can only be described as holy.

How do you decide which ideas to pursue?

I never begin a painting with a plan. I let the colors . . . and the silence guide me.

RHutchison2If you were going to teach your creative process to someone else, what would be one or two of the key things you would share?

My painting table is an actual table, but the idea of the Painting Table is more than a wooden top with four legs. It is about the invitation. It is about our sharing our own sacred stories. It is a safe and holy space where conversation, prayer, and healing can take place. The canvas, paper, and other assorted art supplies are the simple tools that help bring us together.

You do not need any artistic experience or training to be a part of the Painting Table. It is not about what your final creation looks like. It is about the transformation that takes place when you sit with others around a table for a period of time—creating, sharing, dreaming, and praying—together. And it can certainly be done in solitude, all by yourself.

It is about what happens in your heart and in your soul.The Painting Table book1

Roger, thanks for sharing your art and your heart!

Roger’s book The Painting Table: A Journal of Loss and Joy was released December 1, 2013 from Church Publishing, Inc. Find out more about Roger and his work at http://www.thepaintingtable.com.

With the Art as Worship radio show on hiatus, we’ll continue to feature artists using their written words to describe the connection between their art and their spirituality. Access the Art as Worship radio interviews on Empower Radio. Listen to an encore presentation of an artist’s interviews each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio. Like us on Facebook at Art as Worship, then share your art and comments. Contact Vanessa Lowry at vlowry (@) gmail.com if you would like to be a featured artist on Art as Worship. Namaste!

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Mark Golding: Psychoactive Art and Healing Mandalas

Mark GoldingMandala artist Mark Golding, was born in London in 1955. Described as Psychoactive Art and Healing Mandalas, his work will engage the viewer on a powerful subliminal level, activate dormant powers, create tendencies of inner peace, and initiate profound growth. He says, “Life is a flow, a journey of multi-sensory experiences, that I have chosen to record, using the visual medium.”

In addition to being an artist, Mark has been a hospital chaplain, a poet, an author, a meditation teacher, a dealer in antiques, an art historian and a collector of old gemstones.

How you create your art?

What Dreams May Come - They Manifest

What Dreams May Come – They Manifest

My process is one of experiential empathetic engagement, with both the emotions and the sense awareness. I feel, and I draw — to initiate release, understanding and healing, within the mind of my client. This is following a two-hour consultation.

At what point in your life did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?

I was cautious about using the word artist for a year or so, but around two years ago I came out… aged 56. My name is Mark Golding, and I am an artist!

How would you describe your spirituality?

I am an unconventional and maverick Tantrika. I follow the Buddhist path of je Tsongkhapa, the Lineage of the Kadampas — those that practice Lamrim, Lojong and Mahamudra.

The Alala Bird - Radiates Love, Wisdom and Compassion

The Alala Bird – Radiates Love, Wisdom and Compassion

How does your spirituality find expression in your art?

I create mandalas, each representative of an aspect of the path of Dharma — Buddha’s teachings. I sit with an intention prior to commencing any work, and maintain this throughout my creative process. Spirituality is the very expression of my art.

Can you share a story of how creating your art expanded your awareness of God?

As my pen runs along the paper, I feel the Divine creativity, witnessed in the trace I leave upon time’s visage. Each drawing I create brings me closer to God.

How do you connect with divine flow when you are creating? Is it an intentional process that you can duplicate?

I connect through working with pure intention. And my intention has three aspects — Love, Wisdom and Compassion. The flow of Divinity…

How do you connect differently to your creative source when you work solo versus when you are collaborating with others?

There is no contradiction. My process is served by my higher intention, when I work alone, or in the collective. Many co-creative projects have initiated alchemical sparks!

How do ideas come to you?

Solstice Sunrise Blessing

Solstice Sunrise Blessing

As instantaneous sparks. Elusive, transient and fleeting. I try to note them down, but often they flee before I have caught them… I carry a note book at all times.

How do you decide which ideas to pursue?

Much of my work is by commission, and my ideas are integrated into each current mandala, though I contemplate series and processes whereby my own understanding and healing are also served.

If you were going to teach your creative process to someone else, what would be one or two of the key things you would share?

My most valuable tool is a still mind. I have practiced and taught meditation for 20 years, and can hold my mind in a still and peaceful heart centered space. My advice? Learn to meditate.

How has your art affected your spiritual evolution or spiritual evolution affected your art?

This is a beautiful question! The two are inseparable, and as I journey through life, following the spiritual path, both my art and experiences are evolving, interdependent and harmonious. I am both a servant and a witness to my process.

How can listeners find our more about you and your work?

I have a website: Mark Golding – http://markgolding.co.uk/home
Facebook: Healing Magic – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Healing-Magic/213593625344837

 With the Art as Worship radio show on hiatus, we’ll continue to feature artists using their written words to describe the connection between their art and their spirituality. Access the Art as Worship radio interviews on Empower Radio. Contact Vanessa Lowry at vlowry (@) gmail.com if you would like to be a featured artist on Art as Worship.

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!

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!

Betty Humphrey Fowler: Your Physical Environment Can Be Supportive or Toxic

BFowler photoBetty Humphrey Fowler is a Feng Shui Consultant and Certified Interior Re-Designer.  She has been helping people transform their lives by improving the energy flow of their homes and work spaces for almost 12 years.  Betty is trained in Essential Feng Shui by internationally recognized Feng Shui expert, Terah Kathryn Collins, at the Western School of Feng Shui.

BFowler entrace Before

BEFORE

Betty’s passion began in 1999, while living in Northern California, when she read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about how people could reduce clutter and stress in their lives.  The topic was Feng Shui.

 “We live in a physical environment. If our physical environment is toxic to us, changes we are trying to make physically and mentally are not being supported. My goal is to help people see that if they create an environment they love being around, it will support whatever changes they want to make in their lives.”  ~ Betty Humphrey Fowler

BFowler entrace AFTER

AFTER

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

Through her own life situations and those of her clients, Betty has repeatedly proven that, when you change your home environment, you will experience a renewed vitality and energy that creates positive change in your life.

As a tip to welcoming chi into your home, Betty says, “The front door is the mouth of chi where life energy comes into your home. A few times a week, come in through that door and see what a guest sees. Clear away debris, have a beautiful welcome mat, make sure your front door doesn’t squeak and that the doorbell is working. You want it to be welcoming to bring opportunity in.”

Check out Betty’s blog to learn more about feng shui. http://feelgoodinyourspace.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!

Sybil MacBeth: I Get Still By Moving

Sybil MacBeth is a dancer, a doodler, and a former community college mathematics professor. When she moved to Memphis in 2004, author Phyllis Tickle nudged Sybil to write about her prayer frustrations and the visual and active prayer practice she developed as the result of them. She now combines her experience in the mathematics classroom with her lifelong love of prayer to offer workshops that engage differing learning styles. As the author of Praying in Color Drawing a New Path to God, she has lead over 100 workshops and retreats. 

“I use this prayer involving art as a form of meditation to get still. I write the word ‘God’ or ‘Holy Spirit’ on a piece of paper. I start drawing and it invites my body into the prayer. I like to move and I’ve discovered that I get still by moving … even if it’s just moving my hand along the paper. It helps me get still on the inside because the body is no longer a distraction.” ~Sybil MacBeth

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

Sybil is also the author of Praying in Color Kids’ Edition. Her latest book is a Praying in Black and White: A Hands-On Practice for Men, a collaborative effort with her Episcopal priest husband, Andy MacBeth. Praying in Color has been translated into Korean, Spanish, and Italian.

She encourages others to embrace their creativity by saying, “Sometimes your boundaries are your freedom. Use the boundary as a starting off point. Choose to only draw circles. Or restrict your doodle to circles and lines and see what happens. That way you don’t have this whole big paper staring at you — those restrictions can allow you to be free.”

Sybil uses the arts as a pathway for building community and deepening her relationship with God. She is a life-long dancer. Sybil studied ballet and modern dance and performed with various regional dance groups. She currently dances with an improv dance group.

She commented, “Sometimes you become an expert by being a chronic novice — always willing to learn and willing to continue to grow.”

Sybil’s experience includes:

  • Artist-in-Residence Memphis Theological Seminary 2010-2011.
  • Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Tidewater Community College in Virginia Beach from 1991 to 2004.
  • Graduated from Randolph-Macon College with a B.S. in Mathematics and College of William and Mary with an. M.S. in Mathematics.

She lives in Memphis, TN with her husband, Andy, an Episcopal priest.  Sybil is the mother of two adult sons.

Find out more about Sybil, her books and workshops at www.prayingincolor.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!

Claire Paul: I Start with Impulses

Claire Paul is an instructor of art at Georgia Perimeter College. A graduate of Georgia State University, Claire completed her MFA in Drawing and Painting. While her art intends for the viewer to explore the unseen, her interests in music and sound performance also shape the content of her visual art.

“ I start with impulses, then I narrow from there — sketching, gathering thoughts, writing down ideas. Creativity is a lot of play.” ~Claire Paul

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

She goes on to say, “The beauty in making art is the mystery. I search for this quiet area where things recur, patterns happen and then I expand on that idea.”

Through her spirituality, she taps into the “cloud area of unconscious workings.” She says, “Whatever quiet wanderings or whisperings are happening in my life, I stop and record them. Whether or not that becomes artwork is on the side. I have a lot of work that never gets shown because it’s more about the process of making art and listening to that voice.”

In addition to her visual art, Claire holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in music and continues to perform music.

Find out more about Claire and her work at www.clairepaul.com.

electric_pythiaListen 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!

Art as Worship

I have been interested in my spiritual connection to life for as long as I can remember. I was raised in a Christian family in southern WV and was always involved in church activities. I also had parents who showed me how to BE love in real life. They lived the example of loving people, being kind, being curious, embracing those who are different, appreciating nature and choosing to say positive things.

My mom is amazingly creative and I grew up around art and creative expression in many forms. Even in our small town, I experienced art shows, classes, plays, music and festivals. In high school, I was blessed with a fantastic art teacher, Ellen Anderson, who opened my mind to the possibility that art could be a career for me. I’m beyond grateful for her influence.

In Gary Zukav’s book, The Dance of the WuLi Masters, he talks about the ability that scientists and artists share of “re-presenting” the common in a new way. “It is possible that scientists, poets, painters and writers are all members of the same family of people whose gift it is to take those things which we call commonplace and to ‘re-present’ them to us in such ways that our self-imposed limitations are expanded.”

As I’ve met people from many faiths and backgrounds, I’ve been drawn to people who share their gift by connecting to their spirit. This Art as Worship project is designed to tell stories of artists. To explore their process of creation and how it is an expression of their own connection to however they name God… Jehovah, Allah, Source, the Universe, The Great Spirit or something else.

Thank you for joining me in this journey. Let me know if you have a story of your own art and spirituality to share or would like to recommend someone to be interviewed. Your comments are always welcome. Come over and “like” our Facebook page for updates on interviews, articles and quotes on the topic of art as worship.