#5 Session of Culture Care- Charcoal Still Life



Welcome to #5 and the last of the series on Culture Care.  We have been reading the book by Makoto Fujimura and doing a different medium of art with every new set of chapters.  We use art to slow down and listen to what God is saying to each of us.  He is always speaking, we need to purposefully listen to Him.  I hope that you have enjoyed this series and would love to hear what you have learned.  Take some time at the end of each session and look at your art and verbalize the concepts or thoughts it helps you remember.  I would love for you to comment on how this series has been helpful or inspiring to you.  You can always write to me at 2013themakersspace@gmail.com

Enjoy this 5th video!  https://youtu.be/bJbW4IdXkmg

Welcome to The Maker’s Space!  This is a spacious place where we use art to slow down and practice being in God’s presence.  The first step is believing that He is here, and then think about Him which helps us get to know Him better and better.  The more we get to know Him, the more we  will talk  to Him continually throughout the day.  The goal is to get to know Him so well, that we can’t imagine being without Him and before we know it, we are transforming to be more and more like Him and more and more of who He intended us to be.  We are learning to live with God, right where we are.

  We are going to use charcoal today and study light and dark.  God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.  Yet in our dark world, if we look, we can notice God’s light all around us and the darkness makes the light stand out even more. All you really need is paper and a piece of charcoal, but I will show you the type of paper I am using and the style of charcoal.  I am using a vellum paper that is not completely smooth, but has some texture or tooth as they call it to grip the charcoal.  If it is smooth, the charcoal will slide off.  Second, I have two types of charcoal, a vine for light coverage and a chunk for more coverage for big spaces.  There are all kinds of soft and hard charcoal pencils and erasing tools as you get into more detail, but for our beginning work here, we will use a tissue and maybe a kneaded eraser if you have it. If you have one, start pulling it and working it to make it soft while we pray.

Let us pause by closing our eyes to the things around us and believe that God is here with us and wants to be with us.  Let’s start by taking a deep breath and letting go of the chaos around us and breathing in God’s brilliant light.  Breathe out darkness and worry and breathe in strength and peace.  As you keep breathing in God’s light and get stronger and stronger, use your imagination to hear these words and relax into His presence all around you.

PROBLEMS ARE PART OF LIFE. They are inescapable, woven into the very fabric of this fallen world. You tend to go into problem-solving mode all too readily, acting as if you have the capacity to fix everything. This is a habitual response, so automatic that it bypasses your conscious thinking. Not only does this habit frustrate you, it also distances you from Me.

Do not let fixing things be your top priority. You are ever so limited in your capacity to correct all that is wrong in the world around you. Don’t weigh yourself down with responsibilities that are not your own. Instead, make your relationship with Me your primary concern. Talk with Me about whatever is on your mind, seeking My perspective

While you journey through this fallen world, I want to help you make increasingly wise choices. You need to become aware—and stay aware—that you can choose to be positive and hopeful moment by moment. Make it your goal to find Joy in the midst of your day. If you notice that you’re experiencing discouragement, frustration, or other negative feelings, let those prickly emotions prod you into remembering Me. Seek My Face and talk with Me. You can pray something like, “Jesus, I choose to be joyful because You are God My Savior and nothing can separate me from Your loving Presence.”

“Lord, we choose to live victoriously, seeking to find you in more and more of our moments.  We invite you to do art with us and show us how you bring light into the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it.”

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ROMANS 8:38–39

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.

—Psalm 32:8

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

—Philippians 3:20–21

After taping your piece of vellum paper to the cardboard backing, take the thin piece of vine charcoal and start to draw the subtle shadows and thin outlines of the bottle and glass. Less is more and suggestions are powerful even if you can’t see them, or draw them, your eye of your brain will see them and determine that they are there.  Only draw what you see, not what you think you see. Be comfortable not drawing a line if you don’t see it. Use your tissue wrapped finger first for an eraser and then your kneaded eraser for fine details. Smudging is good for subtlety. Use your fingers too and the side of the charcoal. Clean up any smudges at the end with your eraser.

 As you are drawing, in chapt. 11, Makoto uses the parable of the Good Shepherd in John 10 and the image  and name of Jesus as “I am the gate for the sheep.” John 10:7 “The shepherd’s job is to guide the sheep through the gate and beyond, to help them find the best grass and to protect them, not to keep them shut away in their pen.  The pen has a clear function, but you do not need a good shepherd if the sheep are always locked up to be safe from harm.  Jesus, however, promises safety both inside and outside the sheepfold.  “I am the Gate.  Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out and find pasture.”John 10:9  The word “cared for” or saved in many translations means to preserve something safe and unharmed, to keep something from being lost, and also to cure, heal or restore to full health.  The sheep in this image are made safe explicitly for the purpose of going out and coming in—to cross borders, we might say, so they can thrive.”

“The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize His voice.  He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice.  They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.” John 10:3-6

This is the verse that led me to want to hear His voice and know what it sounds like so that I wouldn’t follow anyone or anything else.   This led me into listening prayer and with practice, the more you hear it and test it by following it, you do begin to recognize it.  That is what I wanted for me, for my children and for the children of my church that I teach to worship. But I never looked at this verse this way, as borders we need to cross for refreshment and inspiration, with Him leading of course, going before us where He calls us.

Questions to ponder:

Have we as communities and churches created tribal boundaries to keep our sheep in their pens to protect them from the wider world?  How does this starve the sheep from cultural nourishment?  Should our role as parents and leaders instead open the gate and guide them to the greener pastures? Opening the gate means a certain loss of control, exposing our children to certain dangers.  The Good Shepherd promises to journey with us.  Do we trust Him? Have we spent enough time learning His voice and helping our children learn to recognize His voice?  It is not just the border-stalkers but all of us in the sheepfold who need to go in and out for our flourishing.  How will the sheep of other pastures get to know about the Good Shepherd?  If we follow Jesus, we must practice living in the light of God’s common grace on all and learn how to love the “others” in our lives, the ones who might be our enemies or might just not be like us.  This love begins with the recognition that all have the ability to become part of God’s flock and become reconciled to Him, even if they are not now. The Holy Spirit is active at the margins of our churches, drawing people in,.  When we hold our gate shut, we not only starve our own sheep, but our pursuit of safety becomes a barrier to entry for Jesus’ other sheep.


Have you seen churches or schools create rigid boundaries with high barriers and closed gates? Are there cases where that is appropriate?  Have you encountered situations where the rigid boundary might indicate a lack of trust in the Good Shepherd?

Parents:  How would you describe your upbringing:

1.shut inside the pen

2.sheltered inside the pen and free to graze in green pastures

3. outside the gate

Daughters or sons:  Of the three, how would you describe your parents’ philosophy of parenting?

                    Which describes your church?  What would it look like for the church to be a place of homecoming and welcome for the good of the sheep within as well as those outside?

Let’s look at our art and tell the difficulties or good parts that you like.

1.Next, let’s take a clean sheet of paper and tape it to your cardboard.

2.Start to cover all the paper with dark charcoal, taking care to cover but not to press down too hard so that it can be taken up again, but dark enough.

[2 pictures]

3.Next, start to lift the charcoal with a tissue wrapped around your finger, the shapes of the flowers. Get the shape of the vase and the placement of the flowers.  You can add details later.  Don’t get bogged down in the details. Look for leaves as well. 


4. When you have done all of the flowers, go back and add back the darkest places for shadows.  Then go back and add in any details in dark, always being aware of the light that needs to be uncovered. Light layers are better, so you can pull it off and add.


5.Start to take off some more of the white white.  First with a tissue, making sure that you notice the shadows of soft grey. Not all of the grey is the same.  Some is darker than other.


6.Add any dark details like flower centers.

7.Now, go back with your kneaded eraser and take out the white whites.  There aren’t really that many.  You will have to continue to work your eraser to get a clean spot.

Periodically, blow off the charcoal into the wastebasket.

Stand back and make any adjustments on the vase for proportions.

Remember, this is an impressionistic drawing.  If your flowers aren’t exactly in the right place, that is ok.  If your flowers don’t look exactly like the picture, that’s ok.  Your background won’t be as dark as the photo, but that’s ok.  As long as you have dark next to light, it will make the light appear more light.  So, on your bright whites, make sure you have a dark dark.

Let’s look at our work.  What have you learned about light and dark?  Light really shows up next to the darkest places. If we truly believe that we have the light of Christ living in us, the dark will supernaturally be able to see it even if we cannot because the light cannot be overcome by the darkness. The darkness is all around, but the light puts boundaries on the dark so that it can only go so far.  

Pure love casts out all fear.  Does this give you courage to go where God leads you?


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