Faith & Spirituality,  Illustration

Drawing close to God

Yesterday I attended a Palm Sunday online recollection on Zoom that uses art as an aid to contemplate the cross, given by Cenacle Retreat House. I had come across the ad for the recollection on my Facebook feed and I was drawn to it for the art aspect, assuming we will be using religious artwork to meditate on Christ. I had no other expectations for it, other than it would be a nice spiritual activity for Holy Week.

But I was already in tears at the recollection facilitator’s introduction, even before the program started. Sister Cecile mentioned we will be given reflection points throughout the program and we were free to journal our insights, and even draw them. She showed photos of previous participants’ artworks. At that, I started tearing up because I don’t know… I felt SEEN.

At that moment I felt a deep assurance that MY ART IS IMPORTANT TO GOD, even if sometimes I feel it’s not important to me or to others. I sobbed like an idiot, feeling especially silly at my emotional reaction because Sr. Cecile was merely giving us instructions, telling us what to expect at the recollection 🤣 Was I glad that my video was turned off on Zoom so no one could see me blubbering into my coffee cup.

I reacted that way because it was a huge deal for me, considering what my art had been through the last five, six years. I haven’t held back the fact that I have suffered through a long, drawn-out case of artist’s block since 2015, and that ended only during the last quarter of 2019 (that’s the equivalent of depression for artists, I realize). And in those years, I fought back feelings of inadequacy, doubt, and self-worth, thinking the sketchbook pages I struggled to produce (it was all I could manage at the time) were silly, useless, and a waste of time.

And here I was, several years later, crying over a Zoom (that technically hadn’t even started yet) because I felt God validating me about my art being important to Him. Not silly, not stupid, not worthless. But important. (This will be another topic for another time as God has been teaching me a lot about art and its place in His Kingdom.)

Cartoon by the Naked Pastor

It’s 2021. I’ve since recovered from the creative block and my art has taken a turn for the better, by God’s grace. I say it’s by God’s grace because I’ve had new inspiration coming in, ideas are flowing, and my recent work, after years of instability and ups and downs… now looks like this:

Painting Tomorrow – January 2021
Come, Give Him Your All – March 2021
Our Father who Art in Heaven (detail)- January 2021

What a transformation: from smiling cupcakes and grinning cats, to religious art. Not that there’s anything wrong with cupcakes and cats (two of my favorite things). But what a journey my art has undergone to become what it is now, and what it will be. And very clearly, God had His hand on it all. Can you imagine? Me, a former unbeliever for 15 years, doing art like this?! 🤔 ‘San galing yun???

My art is still in the process of becoming. And I realized the death it had undergone was a preparation for a resurrection; a death to an old life to give birth to a new one.

How apt for the Holy Week.

* * *

And the recollection? Awesome. I gained other insights from the reco but they’re more personal, about things of God, and not art-related. But it did introduce me to the work of other artists who had used their art for God’s purpose.

by Fr. Sieger Köder, The Good Shepherd

I pray I can say the same about the direction my art is going in 🙂 Have a blessed Holy Week!