grace in art


I love art of all kinds. I paint, sketch, enhance art digitally, and dabble in chalk art. Ideas are constantly flooding my mind with new projects, too many to actually accomplish. 

In my shop, I have a custom order listing where I can design a print to your specifications. This is my most popular listing and keeps me pretty busy, so I only list a limited amount at a time. 

Recently, I had a pretty special request. My friend's husband knocked on my door with a giving key in hand and asked me to create a piece of art that would feature this key and include a treasure chest and a verse about leadership. His hope is to display the art on his desk {so it can't be too big} and give the entire piece to someone he mentors in the wisdom and truth of the gospel.

Did I mention I also love a challenge?

Immediately my wheels began spinning. I don't really work in mixed media much, so the key threw me a bit. But when I came across my super talented and creative friend, Amy's, etsy shop I got inspired.

I decided to take on a form of art that I have never tried before, intricate paper cutting. My plan was to cut the treasure chest design out of paper and have the key slide into the lock. The paper cut design will sit slightly forward in a shadow box frame and the verse will be hand-lettered on some fancy paper in the background. {I'm thinking wood grain.} Sorry if you can't picture that. This is a work-in-progress, but as soon as I am finished I will update this post with the final result. Assuming of course that it doesn't all just go up in flames.

Paper cutting is a meticulous form of art. Very time consuming and detailed. What you see in this picture is only about 1/3 finished and has taken several hours. As I was sitting in the quiet this morning, the only audible sound the soft cutting sound of my knife, a metaphor came to mind.

There are several tiny pieces of the paper that I want to cut away and discard and I work very carefully to do so. The same is true of me, I am daily being cut apart, gently, patiently by a loving artist who is creating a good work in me. 

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
— Philippians 1:6

I must work slowly to get good results. Sometimes I wonder why God doesn't just get on with the work he has to do in me. Do you ever wonder why sanctification has to exist at all? Why can't we just move straight from justification to glorification? Maybe it is because His work is gentle, and kind. He doesn't want to rip us to shreds, he wants to create something beautiful. And that takes time. 

for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
— Philippians 2:13

If I don't miss a piece that is meant to be cut out, then the picture won't look right in the end. God will cut out all of the dross and throw it into the fire in order for me to be conformed to the image of his son, his completed work in me.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
— Romans 8:29

If the paper could talk, surely it would express pain in the process, after all my knife is sharp. Oftentimes I rail against the process of my sin bits, little and big, being cut away. It doesn't feel good. There is pain in the process. But the end result is so worth it. 

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
— Psalm 51:15-17

A sharp knife and a steady hand yields better results that a dull knife and a lack of intention. God's sharpest tool is his word.  He uses it to cut the dead off cleanly, without injury. I, unlike the paper, can resist this and in the end be torn up a bit. But if I let the skilled artist use his sharpest tool, I will come out with a clean wound that is able to heal and grow.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
— John 15:1-5

Who knew there was so much encouragement in cutting paper? I certainly hope my friend, her husband, and the eventual owner of this piece will be as blessed as I was in creating it. It is truly a blessing to me to be able to create art that point to the true Artist. Thanks for letting me invest in you in this way!

Grace and Peace,

Elizabeth Ann