Today, Laura speaks to us about her work as an artist, thought checks, and books you will want to add to your list. We are fortunate to get to share some of Laura’s art here! Enjoy! Thank you, Laura.
Tell us a little bit about how you grew up and your childhood: Being born in the 60s meant I lived a fairly quiet, happy life as a child. Making mud pies and playing with friends in the woods were daily occurrences along with riding my bicycle and playing frisbee. I was fortunate that my mom got to stay home and take care of us, but I learned to be flexible as we moved often. By the time I started junior high, I had lived in at least nine or ten different towns/cities. So, learning to make friends and adapting were skills I acquired early on. Something that was a constant for me, no matter how many times we moved or how many new schools I attended, was my love of drawing and art.
“Something that was a constant for me, no matter how many times we moved or how many new schools I attended, was my love of drawing and art.”
What is an biblical passage inspiring you at the present time? “For I the Lord your God hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.'” Isaiah 41:13. It’s amazing and reassuring that the very God of the universe will take MY hand and help ME!
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Checking my thoughts is a big focus for me, these days. I can find myself having a big, sass moment. Often, I will hear the Holy Spirit ask 1. What’s the Truth; and 2. Where did that thought originate? Wow! Those two checks help me refocus and align my heart!
Profession: It took me quite a while to be comfortable calling myself a Painter/Fine Artist. One day I decided to own the talent and desire God put in me. This life trajectory change came about after several women took the time to hear my heart and then speak what God’s heart was about me. I wrote about it on my art blog. So, I’m an artist who’s becoming a Fine Artist.
Walk us through a day in your life: This is being written during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, my days look different now than they used to, in some ways, and, I find there’s some great changes that I’ve made.
For instance, I feel more settled and less apt to buy unnecessary items or whims. And, I spend more time connecting with family and friends. It seems I’ve been given a new perspective on life, and I’m choosing to redirect energy to fewer and more important things. A typical day for me is waking up to the sunrise, make a cup of joe with cardamom &/or cinnamon, then sit in some quiet before the day gets rolling. I’m learning a lot about marketing my art business, so I typically do some research or tick off a “Marketing To Do” before I get into the studio.
We live in Texas so, I’m moving my studio time to first thing in the morning due to the extreme afternoon heat. Also, I love taking care of my family so, part of my weekly routine includes meal planning, cleaning and grocery shopping. Probably the highlight of the week is FaceTime with my daughter and granddaughter who live in Kona, Hawaii.
How do you incorporate your connection with God into your daily, secular work? Some days, I feel like I’ve been on autopilot but, my desire is to connect with God throughout the day. That may include being in the Word, playing worship music and having conversations with God about life and projects. I really desire to paint while having conversations with Him, so that my art is more than just putting paint on a canvas. My heart’s desire is for Him to infuse my thoughts and lead my hands for the purpose of magnifying His beauty. I very much want people to feel His presence and hear Him when seeing my artwork.
“I very much want people to feel His presence and hear Him when seeing my artwork.”
What do you think is something, we as Christians can bring to the arts sphere? I truly believe God created every beautiful detail of this world as a reminder that He really loves and cares for us. The detail of a tiny wildflower, the amazingly spectacular view of the Grand Canyon and even how light sparkles on lakes all indicate, to me, His generosity with beauty and creativity. I believe everything created worships Him and He enjoys His beautiful creation. I also believe He made it all so we would have beauty in our everyday life.
“I truly believe God created every beautiful detail of this world as a reminder that He really loves and cares for us.”
How do you incorporate your faith in your creative process? As I said earlier, I really love inviting the Holy Spirit to be a part of my creative process. And, as I’m thinking how to answer these questions, I’m also thinking how I could (and want to) incorporate into my underpaintings scripture, pictures and words that will go with the piece wherever it travels.
What advice do you have for a young woman who wants a job like yours? To the other ladies out there who are interested in being an artist I think it’s important to realize, upfront, that it’s not a quick process. That being patient and doing the work to become proficient is a thing to be honored. I would also like to encourage my artist friends to consider creating art that will stand the test of time. Decorative art is fine and fun to make. But, art that people want to pass down through generations is something worth a lifetime pursuit. It takes years of practice and learning to get to such a place and, I’m just a little ways down that path.
“Being patient and doing the work to become proficient is a thing to be honored.”
Did you feel particularly called to go into this profession? I’ve loved art my whole life, but family was really important to me as a young mom. I was so glad I was able to focus on my children and their education in our home as long as I could. The desire to be a professional artist was probably behind the scenes for many years. I wish I would’ve cultivated my gift sooner. And thinking back on that makes me want to encourage other women to carve out the time even in your busy lives of having babies, raising kids, working full-time, fill in the blank. I’m grateful I get to have a studio now but, for years it was just a box or two in the closet that I would pull out. I encourage women to find a way to practice and increase their skills, even if it’s 15 minutes a day, because weeks turn into months, months turn into years, and if you start when you’re young (even if you have to take a break every once in a while) it adds up and makes a big difference! And, I think it also helps us notice beauty, slow down a little and soak in what God purposefully made for our enJOYment.
“I encourage women to find a way to practice and increase their skills, even if it’s 15 minutes a day, because weeks turn into months, months turn into years, and if you start when you’re young (even if you have to take a break every once in a while), it adds up and makes a big difference!”
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? If I wrote a memoir I think it would be titled “No Regrets”. And that’s because when I look back over the years, the struggles, heartache, the joys, the friends, the places I’ve lived, I am filled with gratitude for the experiences I’ve had. I’m grateful for the how much I’ve grown; the grace of God I’ve experienced on my life and the beauty in my friends. Not a year has gone by that’s not been met with a fair amount of struggle but, God! He has been faithful and lovingly carried me through all of it. The friends that I’ve made along the way are like jewels in a box that I carry with me. I will always be grateful for them. So, no regrets, just gratitude. It’s the only way to live in peace.
“So, no regrets, just gratitude. It’s the only way to live in peace.”
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I love telling the story of how I came to truly choose to live for Jesus because even though I had grown up in the church and walk down the aisle someone really made a huge impact on me in college. It happened as I watched a friend have a relationship with God. To see the joy in her life, the peace and the confidence that exuded from her because of this relationship was quite compelling. It was through observing her that I realized I had religion, but I wanted a relationship with Him. So, I gave it all to Him, was baptized again and was set on a new trajectory of life that included joy and grace and growth like I’d never known before.
“It was through observing her that I realized I had religion, but I wanted a relationship with Him.”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? The growth I’ve seen in this current season of my life is a result of community. I have been graced with the relationships of several other creative women who encourage me, challenge me and softly hold me accountable with grace and loveliness. It has caused me to want to be more consistent and more creative and to find rhythms in life that are productive and fruitful. They mean so much to me!
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): In Pride and Prejudice Mr. Darcy lists off the characteristics of a “accomplished woman” to which Elizabeth Bennet replies that she’s never seen such a creature, and if she had she would certainly be a fearsome thing to behold (I may have misquoted a tad). What a list to compare ourselves to, right! I don’t consider myself to be anywhere close to that list and one of the reasons being is that I find it difficult to sit long periods and read. So, I get through portions of a book lay it down to come back to it later… and repeat. Two such books I’m enjoying now are: Unlocking the Heart of an Artist, by Matt Tommey, and When Heaven Invades Earth by Bill Johnson. Matt’s book helps us identify “stinking thinking” and gain the heart of the Father. Bill’s book makes me hunger for more of His presence on earth. Highly recommend both.
Top three essentials: At this point in my life, my top three essentials would be 1. Community; 2. Life rhythms; and 3. Comfy Clothes that allow me to feel poised and relaxed. Have recently taken an online course by the Daily Connoisseur. Recommend her as well!
How did God speak to you recently? For many years I have heard God in a visual form. For instance, as I was praying for a friend who is fiercely battling cancer, I saw a picture of women encircling her as they worshipped, prayed and cried out to the Father on her behalf. These types of communion moments with Him happen often when I’m connecting with Him. I believe He wants to give us His perspective. We just need to stay connected.
Hobby: It’s kind of funny that my hobby is gardening now since, it was my punishment for picking on my sister when we were children. But, the love of filling the earth with flowers and vegetables has been a generational calling that I am now very grateful for. When I was talking about finding time to do things we love earlier, I was reminded of how when my children were still very active in school I took a Master Gardener course in Tennessee. Afterwards, I was looking for a group of gardeners with which to meet. There were none nearby so, I started a coed gardening club in my town of Springhill, Tennessee. I love connecting people and this was a great way to meet new friends, share plants/seeds and learn how to be a better gardener. If we use our gifts people are blessed. So many folks have benefitted from that group over years, even after I moved back to Texas. Now, I’m re-learning what grows here.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Practical Tips: I think a lot of us have had to dig deep during this pandemic to water spiritual roots. For me, that means: 1. Worship music on every day; 2. Talking to God about anything and everything; 3. Asking Him to give me His perspective on people, situations or even projects.
Favorite person in scripture? I have identified with different people in the Bible in different seasons of my life. Today, I was thinking about Jesus‘s mother, Mary. She really was a woman of faith. I cannot imagine what it must’ve been like when Jesus started teaching in the temple and, she began to see Him come into His fullness on the earth. I’m at a similar point with my grown children. It’s delightful to see them coming into their own and becoming women of God and mothers. And, it’s always fun when I see little bits of their lives that remind me of how I poured into them; how it’s bearing fruit now.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? Some days, I think I might write a book about how God has been so faithful to carry me through the hardships of my life, which would include many moves and start overs, the loss of a baby, the struggles with insecurity, the death of a marriage after 24 years, being a single mother and choosing to love again. If there’s one thing that would be a theme through that book I would want it to be how God is trustworthy! And, that He’s big enough to cover my mistakes!
“I think I might write a book about how God has been so faithful to carry me through the hardships of my life.”
How do you leave your mark on your community? Being an encourager and enjoying hospitality has been part of my whole adulthood. I have made some very precious friends over a cuppa coffee, when they were invited to our table at Thanksgiving or just for a simple dinner. I strongly believe sharing a meal, in a home brings people closer.
Favorite holiday? I didn’t know it at the time but, I married a Christmas-aholic, and he didn’t know how much I loved it, too! So, we go all out at Christmas and always enjoy when our family can come and share food, laughter, games & fun together! I’ve had to get very disciplined about not buying more Christmas decorations!
A goal you have? I feel part of my life purpose is to share about God‘s amazing grace. I try do this on a daily basis but, I am wanting to influence the art world through my newsletters and art. I have a short term goal of having 500+ people on my mailing list because I think this is a more personal way to communicate than social media or my website.
“I am wanting to influence the art world through my newsletters and art.”
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Over the years, it has been my joy to host Fourth of July get-togethers. Sometimes, that meant a bicycle parade of the neighborhood children. Most years include a watermelon seed spitting contest. And some years, it was just a handful of people who came over to have hamburgers, hotdogs and watch fireworks from our yard. I love seeing people laugh. I love pulling people together to celebrate. And, I love making a really cool, pretty, red white and blue desert!
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? I’ve said this jokingly for years, but I might actually ask God why He didn’t give mothers three arms. Ha ha! But, on a more serious note, I’m really looking forward to seeing how God created the earth from the oceans down to the smallest wildflower bloom.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: When my daughter started with YWAM in 2009, I became aware of sex trafficking in the United States. Over the past 11 years, I’ve been involved with events or ministries that help bring awareness and rescue children. Right now, I do you therapeutic art with boys and girls who have been rescued and are trying to pull their lives back together with counseling, loads of love and encouragement. I am astounded by their tenacity, brokenness, beauty!
What does your morning routine consist of? My morning routine starts when my husband is getting ready for work. I have a cuppa coffee, check on emails and take care of some household chores, so that I keep up with stuff. Nothing earth shattering, but I found if I have a rhythm in the mornings, I don’t fall behind on life responsibilities like laundry, meal prep and reading emails. I find when I fall out of rhythm and things pile up I long to get back to a better life balance. My group of creative friends have worked on this together and found it’s really important to make time and space for the big things in life first!
What is on your nightstand? My husband and I are trying to read books together and discuss them so, I have a book on my nightstand right now that we’re working through called The Four Laws of Love by Jimmy Evans. I also have a vase of silk flowers (which gets changed out with the seasons) and a small picture of my wedding bouquet set in a simple, silver frame.
Define Christianity in a sentence: I believe Christianity is a living relationship with Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit.
For more Laura:
Until next time, keep witnessing!