From the Pen of the Artist: Entry I

Matt will be writing blogs throughout his time painting the Advent piece.  He will post four short blog this week as he anticipates beginning the painting on Nov. 29 at UPC’s evening services.

I’m humbled and honored to have been invited to create a three-panel artwork during the Advent season at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle, Washington. This goes beyond the typical commissioned artwork, however. I’ll be creating the piece on-site at various worship services. The image above is a watercolor sketch I came up with as a guiding concept for the piece. It’s a very rough draft, and I can’t vouch that the painting will look exactly as depicted above. In fact, I can vouch that the painting will indeed NOT look exactly like the sketch. As I work on a painting, images become fluid, shapes and colors change, and meanings become more nuanced or immediate. When I witnessed at UPC this past summer, I spoke about the process of art making as a wordless conversation, in which I bring questions about reality, life, and love to canvas, and then allow the images to ‘speak’ back to me. Thus, there is a push/pull, back-and-forth engagement occurring as I work on an art piece.

I think this type of prayerful conversation is similar to what a person experiences during worship, in which one might sing a hymn, read a Scripture text, listen to a sermon, and all the while be in a process of listening and engaging, opening one’s heart, asking questions, and perhaps allowing oneself to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Usually, this happens in the quiet of my studio (or not so quiet, depending on what music might be playing in the background).  For this project, you will be witness to this process during worship, whether you attend an evening service, morning service, The Inn, or Convergence on Tuesdays. Or you might see me in the Narthex working during the week sneaking in some extra time with the painting as you head to a meeting or small group. I think that this will provide a valuable context in terms of seeing the artwork take shape.


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