Creating theLost Pen Magazineenabled me to meet some wonderfully creative people. In the process of producing Issue 1, I became better acquainted withJenise Cook, a photographer, writer, poet, and so much more. Her poem ‘Lifesaver’ appears on page 15, and that spread was one of my favorites to create; one, because I love the poem, and two, because I love the photograph.
One day, I received a surprise from Jenise. She emailed me to tell me that she was ‘sending something in the mail’ and that it should arrive before Easter. I was so excited! I love getting mail, especially in this world of email and instant communication. Sadly, due to slowdowns related to the pandemic, I received the package late. However, that did not diminish the blessing of what I received.
She had turned her photo and poem into an Easter card!
I think it’s amazing how an idea can start off one way and transform into something else. When inspiration hits, there is no limit to creativity and innovation.
I hope you are inspired today. Maybe you should take out that old project you had given up on, or take another look at that current project you’re struggling with. It might not be time to give up on it yet. Inspiration and creativity may be right around the corner!
If you’d like to support Jenise Cook or learn more about what she does, please visit her site here.
I am extremely excited to announce that issue 2 is finally here! I have to express how grateful I am to all the people who supported and encouraged me in this process–people who believed in what the Lost Pen stands for and what it hopes to accomplish.
Please enjoy Issue 2. I hope that you will reach out to the contributors and let them know how their pieces have touched you (and let me know as well!). As always, be blessed and go in God’s peace.
To access the magazine, please go HEREfor the PDF version or HERE for the online Issuu version.
Last night, I had the tremendous blessing of being featured on the Artist FirstRadio Network hosted by the amazing James and Wendy Barnes of JW/Fuzion Radio.
Doing an interview is challenging: you have to think fast on your feet while giving answers that are clear, that make sense, and that show your personality. James and Wendy were so easy and fun to work with that I think (hope!) I pulled off all three. We talked about the Christian Creative Nexus ministry, my writing journey and its successes and challenges, and the other projects I have going on (mentoring and Focus Writing Services). But most importantly, we talked about God’s role in bringing all of it into being.
I’d love for you to check out the interview. You’ll get to meet your hostess and hear me share about how God transformed me from a Me-First creative into a God-Focused creative, and about why supporting and encouraging creatives is so important.
Bezalel and Oholiab, along with everyone whom God has given the skill and know-how for making everything involved in the worship of the Sanctuary as commanded by God, are to start to work.”– Exodus 36:1
This marks the second season I have taught art with Amanda Riley at the ACE Coop in Augusta County. When I got pneumonia as a result of a reaction to a mural clear-coat I was applying, I was forced to prioritize life anew. Even in recovery my energy has been somewhat limited so I find that in addition to the obvious drive to spend time with my granddaughters, the things on top of my priorities are getting back to full speed teaching our high school and middle school studio courses. You see, I find a lot of purpose in teaching art these days. The reasons surprise me as well. These days I am not so impressed with what I can teach in the way of technique and background – though that is important. Knowledge is not the end, but rather a means toward the true end. That is allowing each student to discover that part of IMAGO DEI that drives THEM to create.
I find myself being taught by my students more than they are being taught by me. I spend less time lecturing and more time observing— ‘catching’ our students in the act of expressing that part of the Divine nature. And the class has never been so much fun! What’s more, I take great joy in the fact that my apprentices Kristina and Savhana both are actively teaching young people now! This is a far greater joy than comes from simply being copied. The world is richer because another generation has entered the game!
The True Reason to Teach Art
This is not so much a criticism, but an observation. I do not think many of us who teach art understand the true importance of it. I think art instruction can miss the mark aiming high or low. The first type of program I will discuss certainly aims high. That is one whose goal is to produce professionals. This particular program, of necessity, is concerned with technique mastery and measurable goals. That is not a bad thing in itself, especially for those who are so motivated. In such a program it may be sometimes observed that art loses its ‘joy’ as a student becomes more proficient in technique. Furthermore, if the program stresses non-representational art, the professional opportunities may not be as widespread as the course description suggests. You might have best in show in your student exhibition only to find that you cannot sell your work in the greater community. For me, architectural rendering was a way to do art and get paid for it. Some do not consider it ‘real’ art. That is beside the point.
The other tendency is to aim low. Art is seen as part of a ‘well rounded’ curriculum, but is not pursued for its own sake at all. At university, our art faculty was constantly dogged with the expectation that they ‘contribute to a well-rounded education,’ but were always subservient to ‘academics.’ Some of us DID need to pursue professional opportunities, and so Ray Prohaska, my mentor, exhorted me to “Get out there, work and learn stuff!“ That was probably the best advice anyone ever gave me. He had been a successful New York illustrator before his ‘retirement’ where he taught in a succession of Southern colleges. Indeed he knew that you had to take your portfolio and go knocking. Ray knew the mixture included inspiration AND perspiration, His strength as a teacher came precisely because he had been in the New York art scene, not academia, for the bulk of his career.
Ray saw something in me—not unlike the something I would see in my own mentees. That is now most instructive as I have struggled to become a teacher in my own right. Our job is not to make students in our own image. They are already made in the image of One better according to Genesis 1. Our job is to help each one of them discover the genius within them. We do that best when we watch and encourage. Yes, technique is important, but it is a tool to be given to the aspiring artist. They are like young plants that need to be nurtured – and care must be taken not to trample them. Since I have been encouraged in this direction, teaching is a lot more fun! The discoveries have been amazing! I am thankful for the opportunity to teach this way.
Most people, I have found, can do a pretty good drawing of items that they are passionate about. This is due to their self-motivated observation in these areas. That should be a springboard for introducing technique. We just looked at the life of Leonardo da Vinci and it is clear that his art fueled his inventiveness in a range of fields. The skills of observation evident in his notebooks shows us that art can be so much more than a nice ‘rounding out’ of our education—it can help us develop fundamental skills in observation and interpretation in just about any walk of life. Thus art instruction should embrace the unique individual and seek to train the hand and eye – as preparation for Divine inspiration and service. That is consistent with the belief that our service on this earth in any field can be elevated to worship.
Profession, Hobby, or Foundation for Critical Thinking
One of our graduates last year planned an important mural project during the Summer. She was somewhat apologetic about her plans to study nursing in the fall, like “if you are strong in the arts, you should pursue them as a profession.” I am actually thrilled that she sees opportunity in what should be called the HEALING ARTS. You see, if Da Vinci’s drawing skills helped him gain new insights into anatomy, why shouldn’t the modern day personification of the Renaissance person find similar insight in her own studies. So often I have seen doctors struggle to “see it” when it comes to a diagnosis. The trained eye and hand of observation could just be the edge necessary in a critical point of diagnosis! And guess what? Later in life there may be opportunity to see where the path of art leads. England’s great wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill became a very productive painter later in his life.
When Alan Bean went to the moon, he was also an artist. The mission of an astronaut is all-consuming but Bean would add a critical element to our observation of the moon through his art after the Apollo Program ended. Georg Wilhelm Steller, the German botanist, zoologist, physician and explorer, who worked in Russia and is considered a pioneer of Alaskan natural history, sailed with Vitus Bering on his voyages of discovery. His drawings added much to the understanding of natural history in the newly explored region.
My point is that art can (and should) become very much a part of a person’s methodology in observation. Our training should lead us to become better observers and better imaginers to the end that we might all be better at analyzing and solving the challenges we face in our lives. Although it may indeed find fulfillment in profession or avocation, art should be seen rightfully as another tool of critical thinking.
And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the Lord hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship; And to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work. And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.” – Exodus 35:30-35
About Bob Kirchman
In 1982, illustrator and designer Bob Kirchman set out to provide accurate artistic architectural renderings for the architectural design community of Charlottesville, Virginia. Working for a few great clients he gradually built a reputation for quality hand-drawn work. Over time, Mr. Kirchman became involved in residential design and moved into fine art and photography. Currently, he teaches art to young people in the Fine Art Program of the Augusta County Educators Home-School Coop and a summer program for young artists. For professional designers, Mr. Kirchman offers a workshop in hand drawing as a tool for imagination-based design.
Mr. Kirchman recently published his first novel: PONTIFUS, The Bridge Builder’s Tale in Three Parts. He lives in Staunton, Virginia with his wife Pam. They enjoy exploring the mountains of the region together.
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to present the Christian Creative Nexus and my writing ministry to a local church. It was my first time doing this, and it was only with the support of my family that I got it done; my husband created those awesome banners (see above) through one of his graphic-design contacts, and my 12-year-old daughter taught me how to use PowerPoint!
I admit, there were moments leading up to the event when I felt stressed. Challenges and distractions of all sorts popped up beforehand, but the Lord was faithful and He guided me safely through the minefield. And speaking in front of a group of people itself was a challenge. Sometimes I’m totally relaxed and it goes well, and other times the nerves get the best of me. Thankfully, that night, God showed up big time. I felt relaxed, excited, a little nervous, of course, but still ready to go.
I decided to share part of the video here, as it sums up what I’ve been blogging about. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, the beginning of the recording was lost. But the Lord preserved the most important section so, in under 10 minutes, you can get a clear sense of the vision He has put in my heart.