Working Guitar by Ken Riddles
Giving a painting
(Drawing – Communion by Ken Riddles)
Wanted to write to you
In my sincerity
Wanted to address you
with the respect you are due
Wanted to encourage with a hug
Or a pat on the back
Wanted to assure you that
We are both on track
Wanted to give you this
Just to say ‘Hi!”
It’s the last one I have
Hope it’s pleasing to the eye
My scrawls on paper
Will go down in history
Famous for not being famous
It’s just between you and me
As I stack ‘em high
Wall to wall pieces of art
Of no significance to buy
But a token of love set apart
Yes a token of affection
Just a piece of me
To say you’re my friend
And forever you will be
Art is an example of something that has a ‘universe’ of appreciators, sellers, and practitioners with points-of-view, that scramble words and theories to give us an open-ended result.
Art is what it is. Art is full of diverse schools of thought and opinion. Art is craft perfection to some – intuitive expression to others.
One school seems to contradict the other. When really they are just different aspects of this activity we call art.
Pseudo-intellectualism versus non-explanation and letting the work speak for itself. Once we ‘verbalise’ we annul or diminish the visual expression, some conclude.
Painting is dead, but gets resuscitated perpetually.
Digital art has pushed us beyond even photography which was revolutionary when it first appeared – even though projection devises, Mr. Hockney has proven, were used by the legends that dwelt in the upper echelons of art mastery, before photography.
By using these devices are they any less the Masters they were, it could be asked?
In painting, some still hold to the Master and apprentice tradition, where, like the daily practice rituals of the great pianists, daily sketching to per-fect – perspective and placement of features, is still held as the raison d’etre of making art.
Some still hold that – reproductive mastery – of the ‘material’ person sitting for their portrait to be painted, requiring the perfect skill co-ordination of brain, eye, and hand is the necessary acquisition, before one can be called an artist.
Those who either don’t want to use their time to perfect the traditional exercises of the old drawing school approach, dare to find it boring, or believe we have advanced so much through the computerisation of all endeavours – consider it somewhat irrelevant today.
Originality is often defined well, or ill-defined. But basically man in art – is always looking for another way to display or present a different visual experience, infused with skill or otherwise.
There is a case to be made for ‘otherwise’.
In short art cannot be made to fit one particular mould, either in theory or in practice, as no such mould exists.
Once art fits a ‘one mould only’ academic approach, it becomes totally limited, and art cries out to be free again.
Some wrongly equate art’s freedom with the annihilation of morality – which is another subject.
As we look at the so called masters, we simply learn a different approach and outlook, that came to the fore at a particular time in art’s history, and earned them their fame.
So art is ‘take your pick’, one man’s meat is another man’s poison, and art will always be that way.
Just make your mark – and, like the famous chair in Frasier that his father would not let go – at least you like it!
Rising up to climb over
The habitual hill of childhood play
Leaving the wooden seat with a spring to feet
And a dash – still with shirt-tail hanging-out
A man of my age puffing profusely
Yet the brow is reached – I survive
To puff another day – puffing memory
And now leaning back on arms
thrust back in supporting structure
Made this way by God
Who gave man legs to run up hills
And childhood to roll down the other side
And now leaning back on same hill
I reflect – I check – I do sums of thought
And it was twenty years ago
That my short legs in short trousers
Became sullied from green grass
The same grass I now lean on
But with a little reflection I quickly come
To remember my first love
Now a fickle memory –
As a greater love I did embrace
But I muse and peruse these visiting memories
Shuffling through papers on a wooden desk
Kept too long – kept too much
With great pain clearing-up
And thrusting such papers into the bin
I touch two closed eyes with finger and thumb
And sit still –
Sitting on the childhood chair
Big enough for my present –
Almost pleasant bum
With a rumbling tum I proceed to make a sandwich
Cutting with the same knife I bled with
All those years ago
This my crescendo
I tell you I am
In Dad’s rented paradise – down the lane
Where weekends were lost in bliss
Father and mother gardening-on
While I lived twenty life-styles
As sailor – as pirate – as cowboy with a gun
and so on
WHO ARE WE ADDRESSING?
When it comes to any kind of communication whether a blog post, a speech, an open letter, a sermon, a lecture, etc etc. – who we are addressing has to be considered.
However blogging and indeed, whatever means we use to address the public, is like casting a net into the sea.
We do not really know who we are addressing, unless it is a bunch of students in a lecture hall, who are studying the particular subject we have been asked to speak on.
Then we can at least be sure that they have some glimmer of understanding as to the information we are passing on. We certainly know about one part of their life – that they wish to put major time into the subject they are taking their degree on.
Even then, if the lecture is released on YouTube or such similar ‘devices’ – we do not know who is tagging along, or looking-in on the address we are giving.
Stop and think this over for a moment. The subject is: who are we addressing – or who do we want to address?
Is there any way we can be sure we are addressing the right people? The right people being those who understand enough of the subject to at least begin to understand and appreciate it, or who even want to listen in the first place.
Also – do we not desire in some cases – to reach those who, we hope, have never heard of this ‘stuff’ we are passing on – hoping therefore that they will latch-on-to our important message, as they are the ones who need it the most?
All the so called ‘followers’ of our blog whose avatar we see or never see, even if they drop by, once in a blue moon, have a rough idea of the kind of writing we engage in.
Those who have been here (Seedsinmotion…), at least once in their blog viewing life – know that I share poetry, paintings and Christian teaching.
I have short seasons when you get more of one than another.
Who is my audience? – well, besides the ‘like hitters’ I do not have a clue. I rarely check my stats page to try to get an idea.
And so I suppose I have failed at the first step, in ‘how to promote and increase traffic on your blog’.
There is a spiritual element in reaching others. A principle attached to gospel communication: 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.
We learn that God ultimately is the influencer when it comes to the spreading of His gospel message. He it is who changes the heart of a man or a woman and convinces them of His truth, regardless of who spreads it through blog or speech etc.
So what about response to what we share on our blogs?
You are hoping for a particular response in the context of your subject matter. You imagine how you would like things to be – lots of comments? Lot’s of ‘likes’ – will that do? Many products sold? Fame and fortune for you as a result?
I’m suggesting that we can only have a rough idea of our readership.
There are many profound things to share. But if we do not reach sincere listening ears, perhaps it is wrong to share those things (?).
An extreme example (in the Christian blogging context) of when not to share, would be:
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.
This refers to those who do not appreciate, but in actual fact, reject, mock, or ridicule you or what you share.
Rejecting what is precious to you. Too precious to be thrown to the dogs. But what of those who appreciate and concur with the profound truth you are sharing? Well – back to the original problem. How do we know they are listening?
So I refrain from sharing a lot of the spiritual truth that I would share if I knew for certain that the Christians who would benefit from it, are in fact listening.
Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. Jesus told His disciples that He had many things to say to them, but they were not yet able to receive them.
So all Jesus knew, was not all He shared.
The reason I share poetry and art is because they give life an extra enjoyable edge, as far as I am concerned.
They are creative activities.
There can be however, a leftover from past eras that lingers in the psyche of some Christians who consider art and poetry that is not directly concerned with biblical matters as being ‘of this world’ and best ignored..
This is the kind of narrow view that turns many non-Christian would-be seekers of truth, away from the Christian faith. Concluding that Christians, seem cold and detached and in their Pharisaical bubbles.
‘Holier than thou’ individuals who do not fulfil the law but are under it and it’s curse. In Galatians we read:
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”
The antidote/solution to this is also given in Galatians:
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),
Someone has, I believe correctly stated: (I would imagine somewhat with tongue in cheek) that some Christians are so earthly minded they are of no heavenly use, but some are so heavenly minded they are no earthly use…
When I write poetry it is with an open-ended approach, by that I mean, it can be profound or ‘light’, about real or imagined things, to be taken seriously, or humorously, as having real meaning or none.
It is not always spiritual, in the strictest sense of the word. It is written mostly because of my love of words.
Christians aught to understand that they must remain insulated from the spirit of this world. When we engage in cultural activities, we run the risk of our insulation becoming worn-thin. When we sense this, we must run into the shadow of the Almighty – or the name of The Lord which is a strong protective tower – in order to abide there and receive fresh sustenance. Renewing our minds in the Presence of God and His Word.
For the sake of the kingdom of God – I have often abandoned all creative activity for a season, in order to give myself to spiritual life, the life of the kingdom. Serving God in praying, preaching, or witnessing to Christ’s saving Grace.
However, walking with a healthy spiritual life, means creativity enhancement.
When I paint, it is rarely about Christian subject matter.
Jazz by Ken Riddles
Many Christian artists feel they can’t paint anything else, that they are obliged to paint Christian subjects. I am not of that persuasion. Everyone must respond to their own inner promptings.
To be naturally-spiritual and spiritually-natural, kind of sums up what I’m saying.
Again – I don’t have a clue who I am addressing. And try to strike a balance in giving vent (as all bloggers do) to what we consider worthwhile to share with others.
With regard to the need to communicate – that all bloggers have, – I would suggest we are simply – built that way!
Did they get Dillinger?
The story behind this painting:
I held an exhibition when I finished with my day to day job as a typesetter.
The exhibition sold well.
Amongst my guests on the opening night was my elder brother.
There was eight years between us.
He suffered from a heart condition and passed in 2015.
We used to meet up once a month for lunch, and these were enjoyable times, with banter about whose turn it was to pay etc.
When we were young, he was always kind to his little brother, especially at Christmas, when I waited with anticipation to see what present he had bought me. He never disappointed (e.g. when I was 8 y.o. – he was 16).
I had two ‘not for sale’ drawings in the show. And he liked these because they were depictions of the street of our childhood upbringing.
As I would have explained – not topographical depictions. A drawing of a memory, not a drawing from memory. (Some of you might ‘get’ the difference).
But I wouldn’t let these go. So his eyes lit upon the painting above, and just before someone else wanted to buy it, he was able to stake his claim and it ended up on the living room wall of his home.
He too, like me, was ‘weaned’ on the old black and white gangster movies seen on TV.
He had three of my paintings in his home and joked about how when I was gone – they would be worth so much more. With reference to the old adage about an artist not being worth much until he was dead.
These paintings have been inherited by his son and daughter.
Be great to have my brother back – I would paint him as many ‘Dillingers’ as he wished (RIP).
Any great ambition I had to sell my paintings, and perhaps earn a living from doing so, got lost along the way somewhere over the years.
The ambition wasn’t big enough in the first place, to drive me to do all that was necessary to achieve such a goal.
The bible talks about seeking first the kingdom of God. And as far as I was concerned there was no other option, than to gladly do so. So spiritual ministry priorities were put first.
Consequently an 8 to 5 job in a newspaper office took the place of these ambitions as the responsibility of raising a family also came first.
So to sell a painting now is the result of some kind of connection with other human beings.
Whereby they see some of my work and would like to have it.
I do not spread the work around as e.g. in galleries etc. like I used to do. So I’m pretty much, an unknown – sliding into ‘oblivion’, in the background somewhere.
If someone through this blog wanted to buy a piece of work, this would entail individual email communications and financial arrangements. And gladly the forming of some kind of relationship.
I have in other words no selling mechanism of pay pal and all the rest of it, necessary, if you are running a business.
Sometimes my mind wanders to Van Gogh – a man who was on a spiritual quest and through the rocky road of life with its hurts and rejections – eventually found solace in his art.
As far as I can discern he lost his way spiritually, because in biblical language he sought God by works and not by faith.
It isn’t my intention to elaborate on such a statement in this post. I realise it is more complicated than my thesis might suggest.
But I do see in his life and can understand, why painting became his passion and means of self-absorption, and quest for achievement.
Even in his art he did not find the acceptance and praise he justly deserved.
I see life in that way, and am so thankful that I have found in Christ what I was looking for.
In the old hymn Be Thou My Vision we read these words:
Riches I need not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine inheritance through all of my days
Thou and Thou only though first in my heart
That succinctly sums up how the loss of ambition doesn’t matter, when it is replaced by the Riches of Christ. It is Christ who satisfies, not only in this world but in the one to come.
There is a place for doing things well, for creativity, and for enjoying the communication of life through the arts.
A place for someone to have goals and resolutely set out to achieve them (provided others do not get trampled-on along the way.)
But there is a fine line between seeking man’s empty praise and appreciating the love that others give, that makes us feel worthwhile and satisfied that we have something to give, through our expressed talent.
Life poses the question: ‘Are you ultimately empty?’
Perhaps – but there is a spiritual vacuum inside each one of us. That can only be filled through a relationship with Christ.
Realised ambitions will not take this vacuum away.