Updated: May 17, 2020
I've recently begun a new series of paintings of large abstract flowers, and I want to share a little bit about it with you all. This series was born from my desire to turn towards beauty and elevate small beautiful things in the midst of the large, heavy, dark ugliness of the current pandemic crisis.
I always have this tendency and urge, this desire to find the small bits of beauty in my ordinary life, especially when things are hard or dark. But this global crisis, with so many people hurting or despairing, with so much uncertainty and instability, has just heightened my impulse to enlarge small lovely things in the face of all the large ugly things weighing on us all. Not as escapism or glossing over hardship, but as a breath of joy and light to help balance the weight of the bad and help us feel a little less like we’re drowning in it. So then, when the hardships are so massive and heavy, the idea is not just to simply notice the little things like a blossom or a small act of kindness, but to enlarge them, to focus on them and zoom in on them until they are large enough to just start to balance and help lighten some of the weight.
I am a person who lives with debilitating chronic pain, and the ability to see and find joy in these small things in the midst of heavy, painful challenges is an intentionally cultivated part of my daily life. The joy and the hope that I cling to even in the darkest moments, which my practice of paying attention to small beauties points me toward, is my faith. Every little beauty I encounter throughout my day helps me to pause and refocus and reach in thankfulness toward that hope and that light. I believe that God is in the business of making all things new and turning darkness into light, turning pain into beauty. All the little glimpses of beauty along the way just keep my eyes on the God of new life that I believe is at work all around us.
This piece is a bearded iris, which is one of my favorite flowers. It reminds me of my grandmother, and along with her it makes me think of her strength, faith, and resiliency in all sorts of hardships and challenges in her life. She was an example to me of a strong and faithful woman, and I find her example inspiring. When she died, I received some iris plants from her garden. Iris are an extremely hardy and resilient plant, coming up early in the spring and staying strong through late frosts, hail, and strong winds. Once they are established, they stand firm and come back year after year, expanding and growing larger every year. The blossoms look delicate and ethereal, but they come from a hardy and resilient root.
The flowers in this painting are clematis, which is a climbing vine flower. I love the idea through hardships, of growing up into deeper joy and actively reaching up for the light and beauty rather than settling into the darkness and pain and just withering. There are two blooms in this image because that growing and reaching is not a solitary pursuit...we need each other. We grow together, and we boost each other up.
I plan to add plenty more to this series, and I hope you've enjoyed a glimpse into the motivation and intention behind it. Thanks for reading!
More from this series: