Women are often viewed as the “spiritual” ones in the home while men appear more apathetic, certainly not ranking spiritual matters very high on their list…and even if they do, they’re not easily inclined to talk about it. For some men, issues of faith can be perceived as unmanly and even a sign of weakness. That’s why I’m so pleased to feature a group of men (highly accomplished professional artists) who are not ashamed to proclaim that their faith is critical to their life and that their trust is in the God of the Bible. Their faith has become a shield, part of their armor, with which they can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
As mentioned in Part 1 of this series…we all have faith in someone or something, and we exercise that faith every day. When it comes to eternal matters though, one’s faith is really critical. In whom or in what that faith is placed can mean life or death.
Any statement about God, or life after death, is a faith statement. For many people, what is identified as “faith” can better be described as “hope”. Hope in and of itself doesn’t necessarily guarantee that what is hoped for will actually be realized. That’s why it’s really important that one’s view of God and His relationship to the world is based on what He has to say, not on our hopeful speculation, no matter how sincere we may be.
The Bible describes faith as the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. Of the 14 artists featured in this two-part series, all recognize that God has revealed Himself to man through His Son, Jesus Christ…and all the promises given to those who put their faith and trust in Him will indeed be fulfilled, for the Scripture assures us, “You will not be disappointed”.
The one question all humanity must deal with is…”Did God really say…?” If God has indeed spoken, we would be wise to listen. The men and women featured in this series believe He has, and they have taken it to heart.
…and now, let’s hear from the men.
What part have faith, strength, and perseverance played in your life and art career?
Roger Dale Brown: In the beginning of my painting career, I don’t know how much strength or perseverance I had vs. naivety. Whichever it was, it was powered by God. I knew I had nothing going for me when painting came into my life. It was a sliver of light, in what had been a long dark tunnel, and I held on to it with all I had. Talent is a gift. Its up to us to develop it and that takes hard work. I started to study and become a student of art. I turned my life over to God and was rewarded with the awareness, aptitude and passion to discover art. The ability to create is a gift, and to not create would be a insult to the giver…With God’s gift I can make the positive statement that I regard it as an honor and a responsibility. Brown website
Larry Clingman: I cannot imagine my life without my faith. It has provided the *strength* to stand, fall, and stand again. When life has been at it’s emptiest moment, when all opportunities seemed exhausted, when it seemed there was no hope or no way forward, it was my faith that guided me. Many times in my life and career it seemed the only answer was to quit, to give up, yet my faith provided the *perseverance* to carry on. Author Richard Carlson once said, “Obstacles and problems are a part of life. True happiness comes not when we get rid of all of our problems, but when we change our relationship to them, when we see our problems as a potential source of awakening, opportunities to practice patience, and to learn”. *It is my faith that has given me the strength and perseverance to recognize and act upon these observations. Clingman website
David Griffin: Painting has always been a difficult process for me, and surprisingly made even more difficult with age and experience. Consequently the more I learn, the more I realize how little I actually really know. So, with that personal revelation, I began again to remember God’s faithfulness and my own faith in the Creator who inspired the Scripture “that He who began a good work in you will carry it onto completion”. My “art life” has had its share of mistakes, failures, and rejections to the degree that I have thought I was not up to the task of being the best steward of this gift I can be; only to be reminded by God’s Spirit that “there is strength in my weakness” and my faith is again restored by God’s grace. I’m trying not to have any illusions about where this “art” will take me, but only daily reconnecting to the One who does know and will carry it onto completion. Griffin website
Michael Godfrey: I have a deep abiding love for God and all that he has done. I am constantly in awe of the wonders of the natural world. His handiwork can be seen in every scale, from the microscopic to the vastness of the universe. Whatever ability I have is God given. I sincerely believe that. I think we give God pleasure when we use our gifts for him. He has put a little of himself in all of us. My work is a journey that expresses the beauty that I find from day to day. Each discovery deepens my love for God and I am thankful that he has given me the senses to experience this wonderful world and the desire to express it in art. My journey in art has been very rewarding, but it has not been easy. I think that God allows challenges in life to strengthen and to reveal what’s inside us. Anyone can rejoice from the mountaintop, but the learning comes from the trek up the mountain. It is through adversity and trial that we grow. I have kept these ideas close to my heart as I have pursued my career. Godfrey website
John Hanna: Faith is a word that I have been familiar with since childhood. My father was a preacher so I heard that term often. Only much later in life did I realize it could apply to something other than religion. Art or drawing became a part of my life around age five. It fascinated me then and that fascination has never left. I copied the work of great illustrators and studied “How-To” books by Walter T. Foster. By the time I got to college, already with two years practical art experience working for small art departments, I came to realize that if I worked hard, I could have a full-time career in art. I began to believe that with faith and my own ability, I could make it. During my senior year, while looking for a job, I met Bill Neale, an art director at a Dallas ad agency. He suggested I go to New York. On faith and the strength of my wife Sherry, we did. My perseverance was thoroughly tested in New York, but I found a job and through those relationships really began to think about what makes art. It’s strength and perseverance that allows you the faith in yourself to succeed. Hanna website
Jeff Haynie: My life and career has been a journey of faith. As a self-assured young artist ready to take over the art world, I fell hard to realize that I needed help to make it through this life’s challenges. So I received God’s grace in the form of Jesus Christ. He became my Friend, Savior and Personal Counselor through this journey. I feel the closest to God when I’m creating art. It’s like an ocean of freedom where anything is possible. My faith is not a philosophy but rather an honest day to day walk with a real Friend and God who understands my weaknesses, fears and insecurities. It started thirty years ago as a choice to receive God’s gift of Jesus into my heart but the reality is that was a necessity for my life and the best decision I ever made. He is waiting for anyone to come to Him and find life. (Romans 10:9) Haynie website
Jason Tako: My Catholic faith in Christ has played such a tremendous part in my life I cannot put it all into words. Belief in God gives everything meaning, including art. In his monumental book on Jesus Christ, The Everlasting Man, G.K. Chesterton said, “Art is the signature of man.” We are the only creatures that create solely for the sake of beauty; the only creatures that express a concept and desire for beauty, and the only creatures that are made in the image of God. I think art, among other things, proves that we are made in His image. This gives meaning to what I paint or draw. Beauty gives a deeper meaning to human existence, and art should reflect this beauty. It should draw us in, and at the same time draw us outside of ourselves and closer to God. Tako website
Thanks to each of you wonderful artists for what you have contributed; may it be a blessing to all and life changing for those who take it to heart.
John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Associate Living Master
To view his art and bio, please click HERE
On 12 Jan 2014, don’t miss it, an incredible interview with Kara Lysandra Ross, Director of Operations for the Art Renewal Center