The clock is ticking: making a painting in one weekend
I recently took a weekend off from my own home studio and moved my easel, paints and brushes to another location for a very special event. I had signed up for the 48-Hour Create-A-Thon, hosted by Camelback Bible Church. I had taken part last year; it was such a positive experience I was excited when it was announced again.
I would have two days to create an original artwork right there at the church, based on a theme that would not be revealed to us until the event began.
As a Remodernist artist, I love this concept. All too often these days art lives in a kind of imposed exile from everyday life. Art is separated from normal existence in the isolation of the studio, the gallery, and the museum, constrained to meet the expectations of culture industry technocrats. To break out of those expected venues and to create in a house of worship was uplifting. I trusted that in such a supportive environment that inspiration would come quickly, even though it normally takes me weeks to make a painting. And I was correct.
On 6pm on Friday night, the participants gathered and listened to a reading of our guiding theme: the story of Lazarus, as told in John … After that, is was time to start making some art.
I painted until 9 pm that evening, and was back again by 9:30 am on Saturday, and painted with only minor breaks for the next 6 hours, and for about another 6 hours on Sunday. So altogether I worked around 15 hours out of the 48.
Saturday morning: underway
The first year the event had around a dozen artists take part. This time practically all of us were back, with a whole new group as well, almost doubling the turnout. During the weekend, 22 artists worked together in a communal space, creating in a whole range of mediums: painting, drawing, metal sculpture, assemblage, digital art; even music was represented, as one participant was composing with a keyboard and headphones.
The public was also invited in throughout the day to watch us work. They got to see how our pieces were progressing, and to speak to us about our art and the creative process. The spiritual sharing, communication and connection evoked by such interactions is a key principle of the Remodernist understanding of art’s purpose:
“Why do we need a new spirituality in art? Because connecting in a meaningful way is what makes people happy. Being understood and understanding each other makes life enjoyable and worth living.” – Billy Childish and Charles Thomson
Sunday afternoon: finishing touches
By Sunday I was mostly adding details and small elements of color, as the major elements of the composition were resolved. Because of the time constraints and the need to depict a specific subject, I could not follow my normal model of painting visions I’ve had. Instead, I let myself have an image suggested to me by the brush strokes I was putting down on Friday night.
When I saw the hint of a hunched figure clutching his legs in the field of light blue I had scumbled onto the canvas, the rest of the picture suddenly clicked into place for me, like another time Inspiration struck.
Lazarus waited four days for his resurrection. He already knew Jesus, so he would have known he was going to rise, but he had no way of knowing whether it would take 4 days… or over 2,000 years. Time isn’t a concern for God eternal. Lazarus patiently waits for the walls and the laws to dissolve into the light of love, in the cosmic cathedral of God’s presence.
An even better thought is asking when will our walls fall, so we can join the light? Larazus was raised from the dead, but when will we ourselves begin to live?
I can write words about this all day, but ultimately in art, words fall short. I can’t tell you, I have to show you.
The beauty of art is a reminder of the source of all beauty and truth. I was honored to take part in this event, which cultivated art as a form of communion.
“Been Four Days” acrylic on canvas 24″ x 30″
The completed painting