Category Archives: Social Commentary

Hope in the Darkness


“But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.”-Psalm 9:18

One of the things I aspire to do with my art as a Christian artist is to help spread the love and hope that I have found in Christ Jesus through my art. Sometimes that looks like me creating art that testify’s to what God has done or is doing in my life and sometimes that means I use my creative gifts to help others feel that same hope.

As I was finishing off the first batch of my new mixed media mini’s today, painting my edges black I was struck by how bold and vibrant they stood out against the dark edging. As I left them to dry I just had this feeling that the Holy Spirit was calling me to use these small paintings for a big purpose to shine light into darkness. The more I thought on it the clearer it seemed to get in my mind and heart. God has a funny way of lining things up when we’re attentive to his voice and I knew just where to use these paintings that would make a difference Hope Mission.

hopem

Hope Mission is a not-for-profit Christian social care agency caring for the impoverished and homeless men, women and children in Alberta. Basic and emergency care is provided to over 800 people daily as well as counsel and referral services for men, women, and youth. Each day Hope Mission provides over 1000 meals, and shelter for over 500 people.  Specialized care and treatment is offered for men and women through faith-based addiction treatment programs. Hope Mission also facilitates an after school recreation and hot meal program for children. In all, our desire is to provide compassionate care and offer hope to hurting, hungry and homeless people in Edmonton.

This series is now being called “Hope in the Darkness” because no matter how jagged or textured our past, no matter how dark our life, God can ALWAYS bring Hope out of it but it starts with us using what God has given us to help bring hope to others. Each painting in this series is as unique as the person it will go to help. For every piece sold I will donate 25% of the sales back to Hope Missions to help support them in the wonderful work they are doing in our community!

I hope you’ll help me in my effort to bring Hope through art.

Amanda

 

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You can purchase or commission a piece in this series by leaving me a message here to see the available pieces or by messaging me on my Facebook page AmandaMilkeArtist. Each mixed media piece costs $40 is one of a kind and measures 4″ x 4″ x 1.5″ and is done on canvas. Perfect for a small space, shelf or desk or buy several to arrange in sets of 3, 5 or 9 tiled cube patterns.

I’ll also be adding a new page to my website with this series in the next few days.

Between the Rock and a niche place


I have this problem. It all started by being a follower of God.  Don’t get me wrong, God is not the issue here, being a Christian and an Artist however apparently is. You see if I was JUST a Christian or JUST an Artist there’d be less of an issue but because I am both, I’m an outcast. An outcast from the world’s standards because I’m  considered a “niche” artist, “that’s great art and all but I can’t hang that in my office because of the religious connotations” and an outcast in the church because despite the statement that we are all created in the image of God they seem to take issue with us that lean more toward the creative scope of God’s personality that aren’t on the praise team. Since I worship, witness and praise my God using a paint brush they don’t know what to do with me. I don’t fit into their nicely labelled how can we use you box because they have thrown out the one we did fit into.

I grew up in a little Baptist church on the east coast, every Sunday morning sunlight shone through beautiful stain glass windows that members had commissioned to beautify the church, to illustrate stories and characters from the Bible. It had gorgeous carved wooden doors, beautiful pews, vibrant choir robes, there was color and texture and beauty all around and it was all made by people blessed with the gift of craftsmanship. I understand that times change and we’re living in a “modern” world that doesn’t cling to the traditional things anymore but how have we lost the value and beauty of  Art?

Art and the Church have always been a dynamic duo. We worship a creative God for crying out loud, we should be witnessing to his awesomeness using ALL the gifts that come from him. Art and the Church date way back before the Renaissance, God commissions art and artwork in Exodus for his temple and the purpose it served was not practical like today’s gray or taupe walled Big box Factory churches it was for Beauty, to fill people’s senses. We worship a Creative God so why aren’t we using our creations to worship him? It doesn’t make sense!

Instead believers and non believers are coming to churches that have no color and no beauty just practicality with neon lights, a projector and a catchy praise song. Do we truly believe that God is coming back or are we just holding a really long  memorial service? If we say we are ALIVE in Christ then why don’t we look it? The church should be bright and colorful and a feast for the senses because God made us and the world like that. It should be full of joy and celebration and it should show how the holy spirit is working in us and for those of us with the gift of craftsmanship that is our Art. If you want a modern church then have modern Christian Art that speaks about a Creative God who is alive and well and working in us. Words are not Enough!

 

 

The “Talk” …


PicsArt_05-08-01.13.45

You know what artists usually do best?

CREATE!

We are good at using pictures, colors and textures to convey our thoughts and feelings.

But in order to make those creations relate able to our viewers we need to do “The Talk”.

“The Talk” often fills artists with anxiety.

I think this anxiety partly comes from a fear of not being able to clearly and adequately express in words what we have already expressed on canvas.

It’s that old adage that a picture is worth a 1000 words.

I think it’s more accurate to say that some things, some experiences can’t be fully described in any other way but artistically and even then the art form used may still only be grasping at the coat tails of those experiences.

Then add in the problem of subjectivity, how you see and I see will be different.

Even how we perceive the same colors will vary from person to person and at this point a lot of Artists will take a hard pass on that “Talk” because they are scared to put themselves out there for fear of rejection.

Who can blame them, Society today places an emphasis on living life on fast forward click that thumbs up button or angry face and move on.

But we were made for so much more than that.

Imagine if we took time, actual time not just a scroll through to get to know someone, to learn from their experience and to share yours to actually interact with each other.

Can you imagine what the world would look like if we saw people, individuals for who they truly are?

You see friends I’m a Christian Artist not just because I believe in a Creative God but I believe in his creative process and that’s you.

You! Each and every one of you is a beautiful work of art and you are living a life that I’m not and there is value in sharing those experiences with each other.

And that is why I am doing “The Talk”.

It may not be as eloquent as I’d like, it may fall short of describing a particular piece from my original artistic vision, but I firmly believe there is value in our interaction and I’m willing to risk getting up in front of a crowd of people to share it with you,  so I hope you’ll take the time to join me.

To our shared experiences!

Cheers,

Amanda

My Exhibit “Blue Pomegranate” will be on display for the month of June with the official meet and greet happening on June 11 at 7pm and the Artist Talk happening on June 14th at 7pm at the ALFA (Alberta Lottery Fund Art) Gallery for “The Talk”  The gallery is located in the heart of the Sherritt Cultural Pavilion at the Dow Centennial Centre 8700 84 St, Fort Saskatchewan, AB T8L 4P5

Exhibit Hours
Thursdays & Fridays
11 am – 2 pm
Also open during performances at the Shell

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Snowy Good Friday…a reflection 


People ask me all the time where my inspiration comes from and it can be the simplest thing…today on this Good Friday it was the snow. 


I was reminded that Jesus died for my sins on a cross in a most cruel manner spilling his blood, giving his life for me. Let me tell you most sincerely that “I” didn’t deserve it and honestly there’s been times in my life that I didn’t want it. I didn’t want the son of God’s blood on my hands. I didn’t want to be the source of his suffering. But most of all I didn’t want to let HIM down again by screwing up. 

But here’s the thing. Jesus didn’t stay dead. It wasn’t in vain. It wasn’t death and that’s it. He conquered death, He washed sin away so that I could know Him, have a relationship with Him, walk my life with Him. You can’t do that with a dead man only one that’s truly Alive. God knows that I’m not perfect, He knows that the whole “Free Will” thing will still get me into trouble. But my mistakes aren’t the end. He gave up His life for me out of love not to abandon me when I screw up next, but to help show me a better way. This overwhelming Love and True Forgiveness is what makes me so Thankful that He remembered ME. While he hung there dying in pain on that cross WE were in His thoughts, in His heart. WE were why He died and I thank Him for it. 

In a world where true unconditional love seems like a fairy tale it’s hard to accept, but my life is testimony that it exists. He took my brokeness like these stain glass pieces and He put me back together, He washed my sins white as snow and made ME a new creation, a wonderful made piece of Art that Hopefully like light through glass will reflect His Love to others and for that reason I will gladly and humbly accept His Blood on my Hands ❤

Happy Easter

90 second lime light- Art in the community of Fort Saskatchewan 


A while back I got a random call one afternoon from Diane Yanch, the Culture & Historic Precinct Supervisor of the city telling me that Shaw was going to be doing a piece on our city, Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta and asked if I’d mind being interviewed to discuss Art and community.

At the time I remember thinking “sure no prob” I’ve been interviewed on radio and in print before…no biggie…it wasn’t until I told my husband that it dawned on me Shaw is a TV station Haha.

Needless to say being a newbie to TV I had a few butterflies floating about but I made out ok. I loaded up 3 paintings for  my background including my latest Tree of Knowledge piece that I discussed last post, Despair an Acrylic 24″ x 36″ painting and a untitled poured abstract 2′ x 4′ and made my way down to set up.

Once we figured out how to attach a mic to a shrug and conceal wires we were golden. Though not shown I did start off the interview joking that “I paint so I don’t have to talk much” lol with much chopping and cropping later below is my 90 second contribution to this piece on Art in the community.

https://www.youtube.com/shared?ci=333-lk70Gyg

Thanks for watching! And stay tuned for more art and posts (as time and memory permit) 🎨

 

Blossoms of Intent, Fruit in the garden: The end to a 5 year project


If you’ve been following along for awhile you will know that 5 years ago I started a journey to paint a piece that I knew would be one of my major works, a rendition of the Genesis Tree of Knowledge.

What I did not know was that it would take me 5 years to complete it and how it ended would forever change the way in which I painted. But such is life, full of wonders. 

Let me tell you how this came to be.

Every year I have added an element, changed an aspect and at times completely painted over parts of this painting, so much has changed both in the art and the artist.

As some of you may know, I am a Christian and as such I bring to my Art elements that only a Christian artist can bring. I’m not talking about skill, imagery or style because anyone can do that, religious or secular alike but instead I mean Intent.

Everytime I create I try to focus on how I can make an impact in the community fitting of my faith and the gifts of artistic talent I have received from my Creator. So that when people look at something I’ve made they can see or feel God through it.

You see, as a Christian I fully believe that I have been blessed with a talent, a gift that is designed by God, entrusted to me to use to help spread the good news of Jesus love to others. 

(I understand that if you aren’t from a similar worldview this will seem foreign to you but I believe and the Bible teaches that we are all uniquely created and loved by God to have a relationship with Him through his son Jesus Christ and to serve others by sharing God’s love and Salvation to a hurting and broken world) 

Many in the Christian faith would question the validity of Art, and the value an artist can have in the faith; all too often citing biblical references of idolatry as one of the main downfalls of art. Believing that man should be the created not a creator.

They are all too quick to forget that in the Old and New Testament God placed value and trust in these artists. Who do you think he commissioned to sew and design the highly embroydered Priest robes, follow the design for the Ark of the covenant, paint, sculpt, carve, smelt the elements in the Temple. These were all preformed by artisans. 

Try Re-reading Exodus or 1 & 2  Chronicles or 1 Kings if you don’t believe me. Artists were well established and present in the church community.

For many years I have struggled with my role as a Christian artist letting myself believe that the only way I could contribute was through donations from the sales of my creations but that the art itself was of little to no real value, just another perishable item.

But I was wrong. I let my talents be cheapened and undervalued, I drank the Kool aid, bought the lie and fell into a very narrow mindset of what value a Christian artist could have. 

But then it clicked, the Holy Spirit came by snapped me back to the truth and I woke up. So let me share with you some of the things I’ve learned.

First, what I forgot was who’s image I am made in. 

God’s. 

If we are made in God’s image, then by nature creation in itself is something that is intrinsic to mankind. God is not Anti Art or against humanity creating. We we’re given freewill which means we are free to create. Its what we do with that creation that matters.

If we raise our creation above us and above God, deifying it then we are missing the point and placing value and importance on something that is just something beautiful not the ultimate source of Beauty, God.

Now I know some of you will say, but we don’t worship art in today’s world. 

Don’t we? 

Have you ever seen one of the “greats” art pieces sell at an auction. It becomes desired, sought after and coveted but it’s still just paint on canvas despite the degree of skill it’s created with. The artist was just a man(or woman) with an artistic gift. Just as blossoms on a tree are beautiful they will fade but hopefully they were intented to bare fruit.

Secondly, Since I was given this natural talent, this gift, it’s not inheritantly wrong it’s like anything else it’s the intent and purpose to which it is used. So if I paint intending to use it to edify myself, to seek public praise pump up my ego and fill my pockets with riches I am using my talent poorly. 

But if I create with the intent to Glorify my creator, with the purpose of showing and sharing God’s love with others than I’m creating with purpose. Intent makes art go from paint on canvas to something with meaning. It opens a dialogue with the viewer and starts a conversation between souls.

Thirdly Art has value. 

Yes you read that right. The things I create, you create have value. Not in that I plan to be this amazing artist and bless the world with my unique style and skill value. No. Though there’s is the value of skills shared and passed on from artist to artist.

But it has value in that the God of the Universe, the master Creator has blessed me with this ability and love to create. 

So think of it this way.

Christian artists are in an apprenticeship with the Great Artist the Creator of all things.

Now am I greater than the master? No. But it’s not about Greatness, I would argue that it’s about Humility.

If I put my ego aside, then I can focus on the Master Artist and take advantage of this time I have in His apprenticeship to learn all I can. Artistically and Spiritually United as one. We are made whole in Christ not to compartmentalize aspects of us but to work smoothly as one whole entity.

I can use my Art as David the Psalmist did to praise and communicate with God. Each painting, each creation can be an offering, a dialogue like prayer, a way to worship my maker and a way to share that experience with the viewer. 

So how did I finish this piece in one weekend after 5 years of trying? Simply put I prayed and asked God and the Holy Spirit to guide me and help me to work with purpose and just like turning on a light the Artist block I had was removed and I could see step by step where this piece was going, what materials to use and that it needed to be done now. So I followed the Master as he guided me through and I worked for 3 days straight finishing it.

I hope in someway it blesses you and helps you to draw closer to the greatest artist that ever was, is and forever will be.

 I will be doing a separate post in the next few days giving the creative breakdown of this mixed media painting. But for now here is

“עֵץ הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע”  –

(Etz ha-da’at tov va-ra)

Which is Hebrew for 

“The Tree of Knowledge of good and evil”

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Happy Tree vs Trashy Tree


So I saw this today
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/france/parisandaround/11169917/Paris-sex-toy-sculpture-causes-a-stir.html

And was reminded yet again why I get so frustrated with the Modern/Abstract art community.

First off the next person that gasps and calls my art riské is getting a list of MUCH more evocative pieces than mine and told to suck it up, because I am positively conservative in comparison…you know who you are!

Secondly, artists like McCarthy frustrate me. Didn’t you study Art History? Duchamp made his point with his “Fountain” now move on, learn from it and stop peddling crap (in some cases literally).

Just because it worked for Margritte does not mean you can pull it off especially when the piece you are trying to re-create is giant, bright green and clearly resembles a sex toy. “Ceci N’est pas une…” Um yes, yes it is.

I’m sure the Slap Happy Parisian was just trying help Mr McCarthy snap  back to reality.

As good old Shakespeare said
“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet;”….
Hmm wait, You say “Tree”, I say “Sex toy”…it’s still a Potato.

The other trouble with pieces like “Tree” and many, many others like it is that they cause the non Art community to question the value of Art as a discipline, especially a government funded one that will cause lil Timmy to have grand thoughts of someday creating giant inflatable sex toys and sticking them in the middle of a major city and also tends to add fodder to the grand debate to cut Arts from schools altogether.

So just a thought, for future reference (and to keep the non-Art community off our backs,) the next time you want to evoke the whole identity switcheroo you aim for subtly.

For example

image

How about a giant inflatable Green Lego Tree called “Sex Toy” 😉

If nothing else, Bob Ross might rest better knowing that “in our world there lives a happy little tree”.