Friday, April 27, 2012

Collateral Creativity

They say a bamboo forest springs up suddenly. But, long before any signs of growth or shoots appear, a flurry of activity occurs underground. A vast network of roots busies itself for years…connecting, knitting and weaving a strong support system that will become the foundation for amazing creations. The little root connections all work together, helping each other grow and in the process, they become the “seeds” of the skyscraper-sized potential hidden inside them. 

Their quiet connections become a framework for their future success.

That just how we felt today as we participated in the design seminar, Discovering Yourself As An Artist, at the Hudgens Center for the Arts, led by renowned artist, Kathy Fincher.  A lovely, diverse group of artists gathered and the creative connections began immediately, with Kathy weaving an informative seminar around each participant. (You know it’s a good talk when everyone completely forgets about lunch and looks up to see that 2:00 has arrived!)

How does such a diverse group of creatives connect so quickly? By having the right “growing” environment.  Instead of competition, there was a camaraderie and a willingness to share every professional and artistic piece of advice that could be passed on. An absolute abandonment to creative development seem to spread through the entire session and all of our artistic roots were well watered.

Insights from Kathy on developing a creative voice, art licensing, branding, and web development had many scribbling notes rapidly... and her personal story of discovering art was so moving,(see yesterday’s blog and video link). Our wrap up included a review of artwork and websites by some of the participants … “bamboo shoots” themselves, some large, some small, some undiscovered, but all being strengthened and celebrated by each other for the unique creativity they possess.  Just get ready for the silent explosion of artistic expression that will come from some of these “bamboo shoots” we met today! Wow. We hope to share photos of their work in future blogs.

All this time for connecting could be considered unnecessary.  Why not simply focus on creating  artwork?  Because, like the bamboo forest, these connections make you stronger, better and open up collateral creativity. The kind that just makes you explode with new ideas and inspiration.  That must be how bamboo shoots feel when, after five years of no visible growth, they shoot through their earth canopies with a skyscraper soar and grow up to 90’ in 6 weeks.  An astounding rate of growth only achievable with a strong, connective, supportive root system.  Imagine the possibilities with a supportive network of creative people!

So, go develop that root system of yours! There’s still time to catch a few of Kathy Fincher’s seminars before her show closes.  Call the Hudgens Center for the Arts for details, since these last seminars may not appear on the events calendar.

Feeling quite creatively nourished, 
The Velvet Lime Girls

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Letting Her Light Shine

                           (L to R - Beth Burns, Lisa Cheeley, Kathy Fincher, Laura Rhodes, Penny Anne Machemehl.)

That’s the first feeling you have when you meet Kathy Fincher, a gifted artist known for capturing the very essence of children in a “feminine Rockwell” style and telling heart-warming stories through her artwork.  Her creations simply capture your heart the moment you view them and the light, the layers, the details, pull you in deeper and deeper the longer you gaze.  Oh, it’s a little bit of heaven on earth viewing her artwork!
Imagine our delight at meeting her in person today at her current art exhibit at the Hudgens Center for the Arts.  I had read about her show on Demdaco’s facebook page and quickly organized a trip with my dearest friends, a small Bible study group that has met for over 22 years.  Little did we know that our trip would become a lesson.
We arrived at the art center as Kathy and her friend, another Laura, were leaving for lunch following a full morning session.  Kathy recognized one of our group members as an acquaintance and a lively conversation began, introductions were made and the next thing we knew, our little group was given a private art tour by Kathy Fincher herself!  She does “light up" a room!  The stories behind each of her pieces of artwork were absolute treasures and had us laughing, reflecting and being inspired for close to an hour. 
But, the real art treasure was Kathy Fincher herself … refreshingly honest, transparent, inspiring, and encouraging.  Her artwork moved us and touched us, and she inspired us to the core.
I think we all came away humming a line from an old children’s song …

This little light of mine, 
I’m going to let it shine. 
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” 

Kathy’s paintings all shine with light, but for our little group today, the biggest reflection of light was Kathy Fincher herself.  


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

You are rejoiced over...

So I was on a long run early this morning...8 miles of a new route that I’ve driven a thousand times but feels so different with your feet. Headphones were plugged into the Shuffle and I’m running to the rhythm of the music. I ran past a church and the sign outside says “He rejoices over you with singing.” I am not sure why, but that phrase can just about drop me to my knees every time I read it. Really? He’s REJOICING over ME? It gets me every time. A friend once sent the scripture to me (and it made me cry) and I have it taped to the inside of my notebook...

For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
– Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

And then I chuckle to myself. Who wants to rejoice over me? I’m nothing special. I’m not glamorous. I’m not rich. I prefer flip flops and running shoes to high heels. I don't have any special talents. But He rejoices over me anyway. In spite of everything.

There’s been a lot of challenges lately. Sometimes I feel like I am about to fall into an abyss and there’s nothing to grab on to. It’s like those bad falling dreams everybody talks about...and I wake up with my teeth tightly clenched but without ever really hitting the bottom. Am I strong enough to keep myself from falling all the way in? Whose hand can I grab on to for strength? Am I making the right decisions? Why am I the one that has to be in the hot seat and make them? Why do I always have to be the strong one? What do I do when that anger almost bubbles over....when I feel like I can’t keep the lid on it anymore? How do I stop the tears from flowing when certain songs play on the iPod that bring memories flooding back?

The answer, of course, is prayer and God. Praying A LOT. Praying when I’m running. Praying when I’m driving. Praying when I’m working. Praying when I wake and before I go to sleep. ASKING for God’s love and peace to envelop me and calm my fears.

I read a book many years back about a woman who “died” at the hospital and had an out-of-body experience. She was in the presence of God and she said His love was so overwhelming, it was almost just bubbled out of everywhere it was so overwhelming. It couldn’t be contained.

Wow. Can you imagine that? There should never be a question mark on this one. He loves me so much that there’s no way it can be measured in human terms. God’s hand is the hand that grabs me and keeps me from falling. He’s the one that wraps His arms around me and pats me on the back and tells me to keep on going. He rejoices over me. And loves me. And comforts me. He gives me unimaginable strength.

Thank you Lord, for rejoicing over me.

~ Marybeth

Sunday, April 8, 2012

His Only Son

It’s Easter Sunday today. A highlight in our year. We’ve been busy meeting our design submission deadlines for Easter themed products with images of bunnies, eggs, and flowers dressed in pastel colors. We love these light-hearted themes with their fun traditions and memories of childhood, but we hold in our hearts the real message of Easter.

It’s not a pastel colored message … it’s a vivid, piercing, bold color of love message that wraps itself around anyone who will receive it. A love that is so giving and far-reaching that it cannot be expressed from a color wheel or even from the entire light spectrum in our universe.

It’s a celebration message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. A new life has been made available to us, a way to an eternal relationship with God, because the shed blood of Jesus paid the penalty for sin that separated us from God. The full story can be found in the Bible.

What must it have been like when God chose to give his son … his only son, to a world He loved? This watercolor that hangs in our studio is our constant reminder of God’s great love.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Celebrating Easter and reminding you that you are so loved by God,

The Velvet Lime Girls

P.S. “His Only Son” – a watercolor study by a young student, James Rhodes, in 1974. When photographed for this blog, the flash accidently reflected off of the “heart.”

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Morning Has Broken"

"Morning has Broken"... the lyrics to this familiar song echo in our garden lately. Maidenhair ferns lift their bowed heads out of moist earth, hostas stretch up from a long winter’s nap, piercing their earthbed canopy with tiny green fingertips and dandelions everywhere yawn with bright faced smiles and then exhale feather seeds of new life to faraway places.
Oh, everyone in the garden is so ready to" get up and go". They have new lives to live and new spring clothes to wear!
The saucer magnolia unzips her slim skirt husk that held a tight embrace on her all winter long ...

revealing a gossamer gown of petals that cascade down the length of her sinewy branches ...

and a bustle that gracefully gathers the soft folds from behind.

All of this new attire in the garden is a wardrobe change of sorts. A shedding of the old and an embracing of the new.

Just weeks ago this garden was hard, dry, barren dirt. Void of any signs of life. Then the silent stirrings began and the earth gave way to dormant seeds bursting with life inside. Everything that was hidden suddenly sprang to life. The same can happen to you. New life and potential, hidden within you, can emerge from your hard, dry, barren places. So, let this ancient promise water your garden today and refresh your spirit to receive all that God has planned for you:

"Forget about what's happened; don't keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I'm about to do something brand-new.
It's bursting out! Don't you see it?
There it is! I'm making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands. Isaiah 43:19

Shedding the old & slipping into our new spring clothes,
The Velvet Lime Girls