As an artist, you are constantly in a state of growth. One painting informs the next piece you create. That one influences the next and the process continues. My last series, The Wearing of Water, strongly motivated this sister series, not in style but in concept. Because as a human, we are also in a constant state of growth. But what aspects of our hearts are we letting grow?
I had a piece in the last series, "Goodbye to the Old Self", that came from Ephesians 4:22-24. We are being asked to "put off your old self which is being corrupted by deceitful desires" and it got me thinking deeper about who is my old self? If the Holy Spirit was not at work within me, what is my natural bent? With no fruits of the Spirit, what would be flowing out from me? Selfishness would replace love. Callousness would trump compassion. Disgruntlement over thankfulness and gratitude. Without God working through me I would not even have the ability to even attempt growth in any of these areas. When I think about where my heart would go, I think of darkness.
But in our total dependence on the work of the Holy Spirit within us to grow and produce fruit, we also have total responsibility to work. You can't have one without the other. I've heard this illustration many times to think of it like a river or stream. You can swim upstream against the current and work to where you want to go. It's challenging, tiring, and a slow process, but you can get further and further upstream with work. But when you stop swimming, you don't stay there in your progress, the current pushes you backwards, maybe even farther back then when you started.
With this imagery in mind, I wanted to create a chapter 2 of the Wearing of Water series to portray this side of growing in the fruits of the Spirit. In each painting you see a form of water as a reminder of our responsibility to swim, as well as, dramatic contrast in the colors from light to dark to portray our old self we can so easily slip back into. The darkness that is our innate inclination. When I layered the tones from light to dark, I made sure to go back and layer from dark to light as well in my process. With the reminder of our need, comes great hope from where we turn to. The light is stronger and provides comfort in our upstream swim.
The specific examples I chose for the titles of these pieces, came from The Fruitful Life by Jerry Bridges, the book I've been reading through the last series and this one. He writes, "Everyday we are training ourselves in one direction or the other... Growth is progressive, unfinished, and absolutely necessary for Spiritual survival... We are growing every day. So which direction are we growing?" I want to remember to swim. Swim hard. While also remembering that it's not me swimming but God. A contradicting concept, but one so powerful, surrendering to His work in me while being called to work.
I will surrender to swim.