#4 Session of Culture Care- Abstract Watercolor


Video Youtube link  https://youtu.be/Ys4g1lgu3pQ

Supplies:  watercolor paper, Arches 140lb. cold pressed, tubes of watercolor to get pure color: Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Lamp black, Phthalo Blue, Yellow Ochre, painters tape, cardboard.

Welcome to The Maker’s Space where we come out of our chaotic spaces and into a spacious space to slow down and use art to hear what our Maker is saying to each of us. We need each other to grow, and to practice being in the presence of God. Our goal is to be in His presence all the time, where we are always thinking about Him.  The more we think about Him, the more we get to know Him. So, thank you for encouraging me by being here.

True art should pose questions. In fact, I heard, once, that art that only says one thing is a “sign.” In our last session of copying Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry, starry night, we noticed some of the things that his art was saying.  “What if Vincent was right?  What do we do in a culture in which the light of the Spirit has departed church building and gone swirling instead into nature into life’s margins?  What do we do in a culture in which the  church is viewed as only a lifeless structural memory of morality that keeps the world from falling apart?”

Today, we are going to do an abstract watercolor painting. Last time with the acrylic painting, you felt like you had a bit of control with the paint.  This time we are going to practice letting go of control and realize that if we think we have control in life, it is actually an illusion. In fact, we have to trust someone to have control so either we trust ourselves, which is dicey, or we trust God who actually made us and the universe. We are limiting our colors and learning and watching the way that the colors flow and mix together.  We will do a landscape position of the paper.  We will start with light and move into the dark, which is how you work with watercolor…saving your white or light areas, working backwards, so that the color doesn’t cover it and lose it because you can’t get it back again.

  1. Tape your piece of watercolor paper to your hard surface, whether it is a board or hard piece cardboard.
  2. Use one of the pieces of tape for the horizon line and draw above and beneath so that you have about an inch wide line in the center. We will be leaving that space dry.
  3. First we will draw a line for the horizon and another for a space beneath it.  Break you painting into thirds, and draw it not in the center but in the upper third for more interest.
  4. Wet both top and bottom of the paper, leaving the center dry.  Let the water soak into the paper.

So let’s pause and breathe and worship and invite God into our discussion and to our art.  It is another way that we can practice being in the presence of God all of the time.  If we can practice doing art with God, we can better be able to do other things with God until we get to the point where we are doing everything with God.

You are acquainted by now of the benefits of deep breathing and slowing your brain and your heart down by the slowing of your breath. Breathe in deeply, breathe out slowly.  As you continue to breathe deeply in and out on your own, close your eyes and listen, use your imagination to smell the closeness of Jesus, imagining Jesus speaking to you these words….

YOU CAN ACHIEVE THE VICTORIOUS LIFE through living in deep dependence on Me. People usually associate victory with success: not falling or stumbling, not making mistakes. But those who are successful in their own strength tend to go their own way, forgetting about Me. It is through problems and failure, weakness and neediness, that you learn to rely on Me.

True dependence is not simply asking Me to bless what you have decided to do. It is coming to Me with an open mind and heart, inviting Me to plant My desires within you. I may infuse within you a dream that seems far beyond your reach. You know that in yourself you cannot achieve such a goal. Thus begins your journey of profound reliance on Me. It is a faith-walk, taken one step at a time, leaning on Me as much as you need. This is not a path of continual success but of multiple failures. However, each failure is followed by a growth spurt, nourished by increased reliance on Me. Enjoy the blessedness of a victorious life through deepening your dependence on Me.[Jesus Calling by Sarah Young]

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 

—Psalm 34:17–18

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 

—2 Corinthians 5:7 nkjv

Lord, we invite you to do art with us today, even as we know that you are already with us, we often don’t notice that you are already here with us.  Help us to notice you and the thoughts that you give us as we do watercolor together.  Help us get to know you better as we make something together.

“We are living in the world Vincent depicted.  The church has kept the structure of truth, but we have largely lost touch with the Spirit in creating beauty.”  Maybe we have been telling the world about Jesus the Savior, but not about Jesus the Creator? Perhaps the movement of the younger generations away from the traditional church, yet seeking justice and environmental care is a movement of becoming artists of the borders and margins, or border-stalkers as was Vincent and Emily Dickinson. They were both marginalized and lived in a type of exile from the main culture because they felt compelled to make their art against injustices they perceived even though it was not considered useful.  Yet a century later, their art still speaks to us, to what our own hearts long for..Emily’s poems as a resistance to utility and Vincent’s paintings as parables of beauty into our wounded, dehumanized souls.”


Perhaps you can identify to their feelings of being on the outskirts of culture? Perhaps you know people who are not “useful” and are exiled from the “normal” world? “In those cases, has anyone been able to see past the marginalized people’s utility to their full humanity? Give examples….

Thankfully, more of us today are recognizing the reality of oppression and injustice in our world, and our call as God’s people to address it. But if we want our world to value orphans, the poor, the trafficked, and the hungry, and if we want to awaken our society to the value of every human life no matter how small, or old, or broken, or different then we must confront the utilitarian ethic that enslaves us all. We do that by learning to value what is not useful. We do that by cultivating beauty in our worship. Beauty is the prelude for justice, and justice is true worship. [Skye Jethani]

“When a woman poured very expensive ointment on Jesus in Mark 14, his disciples were outraged at her wastefulness. Unlike Jesus, they were incapable of seeing past the impracticality of her actions to affirm the beauty of her worship. Like the disciples, many of us have difficulty seeing beyond the practical. Our consumer society has formed us to associate value with usefulness, and when something is no longer useful we have no hesitation throwing it away and acquiring something else.”

So, let’s paint, and make something useless but valuable because we are doing it with God.

  1. After wetting the top and bottom of you paper again, dab a bit of each of the colors in a line on a plastic card in a row…raw sienna, burnt sienna, lamp black,phthalo blue, ultramarine blue or indigo… 
  2. Using your brush, wet the upper section of your paper. Give it a moment to absorb the water.
  3. Take your piece of plastic and load it with the paint on your palette. Run the card across the middle horizon line and tip your board to let the paint run.  Continue to tip it to make a sky.

      You can always add a bit of water with your brush near the paint to help it run more.  Give                 

      your paint time to run and blend. You can redip your card in the paint and add at the   


8.  Add a bit of water with your brush to help it run and tip to blend and move diagonally which                                  is  more interesting.

9.  Continue to add bits of paint as it dries to allow more details to stay as your background 

    dries.  Perhaps you want to add trees or mountains on the horizon.  Just a suggestion goes 

    a long way.  Too much playing with watercolor creates mud, so know when to quit.

10. To add a bit of brightness to the sky after the top half has dried and so that the yellow 

      doesn’t blend with the blue to make green, wet the top half of the painting and add a bit of  

      yellow ochre to the side and tip.  You might even want to add a bit at the horizon.  You can 

   then even wet the center to make it go down into the landscape at certain points.

Fujimura says art is ultimately not useful.  It serves no practical function.  Do you agree or disagree?  Why or why not?  Why would this make art indispensable?

“So in a world where the churches are seen as darkened, how can we live a faith that brings light into world?  What if the light in the swirling sky of Vincent’s painting, showed us that Jesus isn’t merely into saving souls or reigning over the church…..He desires to reign over all things and make all things new outside of the church. How can we proclaim God as the “source of all illuminating light?“ “We must find God in the very fabric of our callings as teachers, nurses, engineers, artists, writers.  We must see our occupations as part of the glorious reality in which God has manifested the Spirit’s incorruptible visage.” [Visage is face but more than face, image and impression]

 What would that look like for you?  “For Christ to rule over all things means welcoming Heaven into the earthly things we are already doing.”

Dallas Willard said it this way, “As Jesus’ disciple, I am his apprentice in kingdom living. I am learning from him how to lead my life in the Kingdom of the Heavens as he would lead my life if he were I.” Notice that Willard, like Paul, says nothing about changing his circumstances. Following Jesus doesn’t mean becoming a Jewish rabbi. It doesn’t mean becoming an itinerant preacher. It doesn’t mean becoming a first-century carpenter. And it certainly doesn’t mean doing more church work. Being a disciple means living your life, doing your work, engaging your relationships, and inhabiting your community with Christ and in a manner that manifests his rule right where you are.” Skye Jethani 1{The Church, Learning to Live with God Right Where You Are]

He has placed you, right where you are in order for His light to shine around you which shows others about Him.  He wants to be reconciled with everyone, but how can they be if they don’t even notice that He exists?  So be encouraged and go and bring His light and His beauty into all of the dark places around you. 

[all quotes are either from Culture Care or from the Bible, unless otherwise noted.]

Look at your art and notice what you see.  What are the places you like?  Is it saying anything to you? Did this exercise help you let go of control?

Send me a picture of your art to 2013themakersspace@gmail.com and I will post it here with some of the other workshops around the country.

The Vail Christian High School Mother-Daughter Group in Edwards, CO.


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