Makoto Fujimura

This summer my brother loaned me a book entitled Refractions - A Journey of Faith, Art and Culture written by a Nihonga (Japanese-style painting) artist, Makoto Fujimura .  I have been chewing on it all summer and finally have decided this is a book I need to always have at my finger tips.  Regardless of your spiritual bent I think this book can speak to the soul of every individual who is an artist and wonders what place he or she has in this world.  For years and I have mourned the fact that didn't have a draw or talent for medicine, accounting, lawyering (I know it's not a word) - practical gifts.  Gifts that are deemed worthy because of their ability to bring in money.  I've always wondered allowed to God, "Why did you make me love painting and writing so much."  All my life I've heard that these things I love to do are "only" or "just" hobbies.  In fact just a couple of weeks ago a woman said to me while referring to my art, " I don't have any hobbies like you Amy."  I was screaming inside.  HOBBY!?!?!  But that is our culture.  Art seems to hold a lesser place than let's say accounting.  Art is just a nice hobby.  Is it?

For you new artists exploring your creative side, it might at first feel like a hobby, but then at some point you will realize this is as important as your heart or lungs or feet to your existence.  Mr. Fujimura delves into the spiritual importance of art and points out how art changes our world, reflects a better world and is as important to humanity as any other profession.  I'm flustered in my words trying to tell you how good this book is, just go read it.  You'll see.

The Art Spirit

Recently a friend lent me a book called "I Married Adventure" by Luci Swindoll. I rolled my eyes a little before I finally picked it up to do a skim over and then politely return it. I was afraid it was going to be a "how to" book on enjoying single life when the would be "married life" doesn't happen or fails... you know, "learning to be happy when you're profoundly disappointed." I wasn't really up for it. I'm learning to handle the disappointment a little better now. I'm use to it like I am the wrinkles around my eyes. Don't really like them, but there's really not much I can do about it. So to my shocking surprise - I've really enjoyed this book. This woman writes of her life and struggles and it's most encouraging. How much opportunity us single gals have. I never saw my life so adventurous as when I was able to read about another single woman's life. Look at all the experiences I have had both wanted and unwanted because of my "singleness." It's been really encouraging. And I recommend it to anyone not just the single folks. In the book she mentioned a book I've owned forever "The Art Spirit" by Robert Henri. And I pulled it from the stacks. So glad I did. With this new job, the painting is not a daily activity, but the desire for it is. I'm going to tuck this book in my bag, so when I'm waiting in some doc office in O'Fallon, I won't forget what my eyes were made to see and my hands made to do.
I also picked up another book, "The Prodical Son" by Henri Nouwen. Nouwen a priest is drawn to the Rembrandt painting of the same name. It's exciting to see what thoughts, emotions and prayers come from this amazing painting. If only I could paint something one day that allows new thoughts to trickle into the viewer's heart and speak to their soul. Art can change your life. So now all I can manage to do is read about art, I know that it will inspire as well. And as I always I hope to inspire you at any stage of the creative process you may be at. At some point picking up the brush is desired but until then, keep looking. Don't forget how to see.