Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Creatively Expressed

We're taking a quick break from our I AM series this week while I am speaking at a women's retreat.
Welcome back my friend and guest, Laurie Kinkaid. I love her impressions, brought through an artist's lens. Laurie's mind and heart are beautifully expressed through her creative ways of seeing life...

EXCELLENCE makes me cry.  Friends know that about me. Not-yet-friends learn it quickly.

Meanness angers me and self-assigned victimization just ticks me off, but EXCELLENCE in art, sports, music, engineering, most any field of worthy endeavor, makes me cry.

I’m getting better at keeping my tears in check (or wearing sunglasses) in public, but my visit to the exhibit of Marc Chagall’s works posed quite a challenge.

The show was entitled “Between War and Peace”, but the paintings included works from his whole life. From Russia to Paris to New York City to Israel to the south of France, he was affiliated with many of the giants I’d studied as a French Language and Literature major in college.

You can get plenty of information on any number of websites, but when you have the opportunity to attend an exhibit and actually stand in front of his canvasses, DO IT!  It’s a moving experience.

All the details of Chagall’s life and career reinforce the common knowledge that the greatest success comes through the greatest trials, both cultural and personal. He knew the Russian Revolution, two World Wars, and his personal exile from the land of his birth. He saw the obliteration of his home town in Russia and the near annihilation of all of European Jewry. He was widowed after 29 years of marriage to “the companion of my life, the woman who was my inspiration”. (Marc Chagall and his times by B.Harshav)

He worked literally until the day of his death, translating his maquette painting entitled “Job” into tapestry. 

I haven’t seen the ceiling of L’OpĂ©ra de Paris (which he painted in 1963) since I was there for a study abroad program, but the paintings of the exhibition were extremely inspiring, both because of his personal history and because of my Christian faith-walk.  

In addition, Marc Chagall’s passion about the act of painting itself was inspiring:

“For me, painting is as necessary as food. When I paint, I am transported into a more real world.”

I have two artist girlfriends who may concur that painting somehow transports them into a more real world as well. Painting is a necessity in their lives: Mary, en plein air (outdoors, in one go) and Lee, indoors or out, vividly bringing storybook characters to life. 

So here’s my question:

When painting is the art, the expression of the artist’s heart, the studied, perfected skill to be honed, and that art is reaching audiences and changing people’s lives, why take on something difficult? Why not JUST keep on painting?

Chagall had to leave Russia to survive, but did he have to go to New York, where, per author Raymond Cogniat, "he felt ill-suited in this new role [of celebrity] in a foreign country whose language he could not yet speak. He became a celebrity mostly against his will, feeling lost in the strange surroundings."

Photo used with permission by the artist
My friend, Mary’s venue on the seashore or marsh bank, either alone or with a student, is where she produces beautiful landscapes with overwhelming cloud formations, but she moved indoors... into restaurants... during service hours... to capture the beauty of dishes on the menus. She told me it was one of the hardest things she’s ever done. 

Lee is one of the most socially graceful women I know, but when she is creating at her desk, whether painting or creating collage or writing, she is alone. Still, she got up to read one of her illustrated stories, out loud, in front of a room of 30+ people, none of whom were in her preferred demographic of 6-years-and-under. ALL GROWN-UPS!!! She consulted me for some “acting tips” before going on, and almost talked herself out of doing it at all.

Why push beyond our comfort zone? Why deliberately take on something scary or difficult? Why say, “What if I tried this, or went there, or changed that?”

        Maybe because without doing that, 

            we forfeit getting to know the rest of ourselves,

                we rob others of the blessing of our art, even if that art is JUST our own lives,
                    we forfeit excellence.  

Go ahead, make me cry! 

My sunglasses are here somewhere.


Tweetable: is reaching audiences and changing people's lives, why not keep painting?

Dramatist, humorist, seamstress, Laurie Kinkaid "does what she does" for an audience of One, but is looking forward to bringing one of her theatre characters to speak to your group. She also works with you to create a piece of practical art that will preserve your memories in the fabrics of your life. Stop by Laurie's website at

Join Jeanne next week here at The Stream's Edge when we will continue with our look at the I AM statements of Jesus. So far we have looked at:
I AM the Bread
Living Water
I AM the Light of the World
Next: I AM the Gate (door)

Today's resource:

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