Archive for June, 2012


Part 1: Creator Elohim

June 30, 2012

(This is the beginning of several articles entitled DIVINE CREATIVITY that will present a Biblical apologetic and study on why people are creative. This series contains Scripture passages to read and questions to answer.  Recording your insights in a creative journal may be a valuable exercise.)

Pretend you are seated on a tiny chair in the middle of several squirmy children during a Sunday School class, and the teacher asks the class to complete her sentence: “God is _______.”  Without waiting to be called on the little ones shout out, “Love!”  “Jesus!”  “Big!”  “In heaven!”  “In my heart!”

When they run out of ideas and the teacher calls on you, what is your answer?  Grace?  Omnipotent?  Agape love?  Worthy of worship?

How do you think God would finish the sentence?  How does God introduce Himself to the world?  As Maria in The Sound of Music would advise, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start!”

>>Read Genesis 1 – 2 and write down everything you learn about God.

Among some of God’s qualities mentioned in Genesis 1 is His first Hebrew name: Elohim (literally, powerful ones [1]). Translated simply as God in English, itis used 33 times in the chapter’s 31 verses.  Elohim is combined with created or made seven times and with other creative actions (was moving, separated, said, placed) eleven times.  Taken together Elohim is paired with a creating verb 18 times. [2]

This repetition is for emphasis.  Noticing what is repeated is foundational to studying the Bible.  God repeats what is important—what He wants us to notice.  To state the obvious, in Genesis 1: God wants us to notice that He is Creator God.

Another important Bible study principle is The Law of First Mention.  “The very first time any important word is mentioned in the Bible, Scripture gives that word its most complete and accurate meaning to not only serve as a key in understanding the word’s Biblical concept, but to also provide a foundation for its fuller development in later parts of the Bible.”

Applying this law to Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” again suggests that the first thing God wants us to know about Him, is that He created the world—that He is Creator God.

Therefore, while love, big, and grace are correct answers to a Sunday School teacher’s question about who God is, from the Bible’s perspective, Creator is perhaps a better answer, simply because the Bible first describes God as Creator, and that, multiple times.  When reading the Bible from the beginning, before we know that God is love[3], He wants us to know that He is Creator.

>> How does this change how you view God?  How you view creativity?

Next week: Image-Bearers

[1] The ending on the Hebrew word is plural.

[2] For further study on Elohim.

[3] It’s interesting to note that love, the most frequently given Sunday School answer to the question posed above, isn’t mentioned in the Bible until Genesis 22:2 describing Abraham’s love for Isaac; and we have to wait until Deuteronomy 7:7 for the Bible to tell us of God’s love for people.


Everyone is creative

June 30, 2012

This blog is devoted to the truth that everyone is creative.

I don’t mean everyone is artsy, or wears her favorite colors (all of them at the same time!), loves the smell of paint, or lives a Gypsy lifestyle.

I mean everyone has the capacity to see things in a new way; or get from A to Q more quickly; or figure out how to make the project happen with limited resources.

Creativity happens all around us.  In that sense it is ordinary – used by, and available to, us all.

Creativity is so much more than artistic talent.

Our society is just beginning to understand this.  Think: Steve Jobs, Mother Theresa, George Washington Carver.  Each one faced a challenge, assessed his situation, and took action toward a solution.

Every person on this planet does this.

In its most basic form, creativity = problem solving.

Creativity can be taught and learned.

One’s creative capacity can be enlarged.


So please share–

How are you creative?

What challenges are you facing?

What creative solutions have you discovered?

How has someone creatively inspired you?


Black Socks

June 20, 2012

A creative project can seem like an amorphous glob of Jell-o in a vat of vegetable oil— difficult to get a handle on with no obvious place to start.

When I have a creativity Jell-o mess, I apply one of my creativity maxims:



Today I was doing a dark load of laundry, folding the jeans and t-shirts, when I came to the Dreaded Knot of Socks—a mass of mismatched confusion bonded by a systemic hair-raising charge of static.

After reprimanding myself for forgetting to add a drier sheet to the load, I began applying today’s maxim, thereby reducing inaction and confusion.  I picked out the most obvious socks— four navy blue ones— from the black ball.  Separating the blue socks from the black was an easy and obvious first step.  With those out of the way, I was able to see the subtle distinctions between the nine remaining black socks.

By DOING WHAT YOU KNOW you clear away the creative decision-making fog one layer at a time.  You can see the details of the next phase more clearly if you take care of the obvious ones first.

Let’s move from the sock pile to creating.  How does this work in a project?


These two steps clear away a LOT of fog.  While they won’t eliminate every creative block, they are extremely useful when you aren’t able to proceed because you are overwhelmed with the enormity of the project.

DEFINE known parameters.  Write down, or make a mental list of everything you DO know about the project: size, medium, materials, function, time constraints, color, etc; and any ideas you already have no matter how seemingly unrelated or trivial.

ACT on what you know.  The size of the finished painting will be 45×62—cut the canvas and begin stretching.  The palate will be pastel—go buy a big tube of white paint.  The article will include an interview—call the subject up to make and appointment.  The grant is due in two weeks—fill out everything you can on the application.

The magic of Doing What You Know is that while you are acting on what you know, the next steps become clearer.

The reason for this is two fold.  First, Mary Poppins’ wisdom, “Well-begun is half done,” is creative wisdom.   By starting the creative process (sometimes that is simply the mundane prep) ideas and next steps begin to emerge.  Doing the tasks and making the decisions you recognize builds a kind of ladder with each idea building on the previous one.

The second reason is found within the Four Stages of Creativity (look for a future post).  By DOING WHAT YOU KNOW and letting the tougher decisions incubate while your hands are occupied, your unconscious thinking continues, often resulting in an “AHA!” moment, seemingly from out of nowhere.

The secret to finishing an overwhelming project is to continue repeating these two steps.  The creative process is a series of decisions with moments (flashes) of inspiration.  Continue DEFINING and ACTING— DOING WHAT YOU KNOW— until the next decision comes into focus, giving space and life for inspiration, and eventually your project will be finished!

Now if I could just figure out a maxim to find the tenth black sock.


A Cup a Day

June 20, 2012

Design a work of art on a common coffee cup and use it for a caffeine and creative boost

(Bonus: You’ll always know which cup is yours!)


(The following is one of the projects from the Halcyon Arts Creative Room during The Creative Church Conference. Click on the photos to go to the artists’ sites.)


Artist Gwyneth Leech creates intricate paintings and drawings on used coffee cups. Since September of last year, Leech has been filling the Sprint Prow ArtSpace at the Flatiron Building in Manhattan with hundreds of coffee cup artworks (more than 700 at last count). She worked in the art space Tuesday through Saturday, 11am to 2pm, while the exhibit was open. The project, entitled HYPERGRAPHIA closed February 18, 2012.  Her installation can be seen with 8 other artists in Luxuriant Refuse at the Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Art in Houston, Texas.


Hypergraphia by Gwyneth Leech

Gwyneth Leech’s show in The Prow


Cup(s) of the Day #106 – Gwyneth Leech
Watercolor on used paper coffee cups


Ideas for making your own art coffee (tea, or water) cup

  • Think in-the-round, so your design flows seamlessly around the cup
  • Plan out your design on paper, or jump in and let your design unfold
  • Look at Boey’s and Leech’s work for inspiration
  • Stick with black-line, or add color if you wish
  • Start with color instead of a line drawing
  • If you chose styro, push into the material with a fingernail to add dimension
  • Use other art supplies and materials to add to your cup



  • what God has been revealing to you
  • your favorite Scripture
  • today (visual journal)
  • new relationships
  • an idea that has been floating around in your heart for awhile


i am the one who knocks – Cheeming Boey


canabalt (6) – Cheeming booey



Mandelbrot Mandala

June 20, 2012

Art + Math + Spirituality

Slow down, meditate on the goodness of God, and create a circular pattern of colorful beauty

(AKA: Who knew math could be so beautiful?!)

The following is one of the projects from the Halcyon Arts Creative Room during The Creative Church Conference. Click on the photos to go to the artists’ sites.)

Computer-generated fractal image

Mandelbrot Love, by sya


Images of the Mandelbrot set display an elaborate boundary that reveals progressively ever-finer recursive detail at increasing magnifications.  The set’s boundary also incorporates smaller versions of the main shape, so the fractal property of self-similarity applies to the entire set, and not just to its parts…. The Mandelbrot set has become popular outside mathematics both for its aesthetic appeal and as an example of a complex structure arising from the application of simple rules, and is one of the best-known examples of mathematical visualization.


File:Chenrezig Sand Mandala.jpg

Chenrezig Sand Mandala created and exhibited at the House of Commons on the occasion of the visit of the Dalai Lama on 21 May 2008.

Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning “circle.” The sacred art of eastern religious traditions often takes a mandala form. Mandalas, concentric diagrams with radial symmetry, are thought to have spiritual and ritual significance and are a key part of meditation in many religions.  In the Tibetan branch of Buddhism, mandalas have been developed into sand painting. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of aspirants and adepts.  Forms evocative of mandalas prevalent in Christianity include: the Celtic cross; the Crown of Thorns; rose windows; and the dromenon labyrinth (picture below) on the floor of Chartres Cathedral. The dromenon represents a journey from the outer world to the inner sacred center where the Divine is found.

Chartres Labyrinth

Ideas for making your own mandalas:

  • Fill in a blackline master with patterns, then color if you wish
  • Fold a piece of tracing paper several times, unfold, create a design in one folded section, then trace to fill all other sections
  • Mirrors can provide a preview of the finished design
  • Instead of drawing a mandala, fold a sheet of paper up, then cut one out; unfold and leave it plain, or add designs
  • While drawing and coloring, slow down and meditate on the beauty of God

birdseye view of completed mandala

Buddhist monks painstakingly place millions of grains of sand into place on a flat platform over a period of days or weeks before ultimately being dismantled in order to release and disseminate the deity’s blessings into the world to benefit all sentient beings.  Acting as cultural ambassadors from the exiled personal monastery of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, the monks of Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies have become especially well known for the creation of sand mandala exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout the world.

fruit mandala

Blackline masters free to download.

Info on mandalas and the Mandelbrot Set from Wikipedia articles


Ancient + Digital

June 20, 2012

Design a dimensional mosaic and bring order out of chaos using an ancient art form embraced by 21st C technology

(The following is one of the projects from the Halcyon Arts Creative Room during The Creative Church Conference. Click on photos below to go to the artists’ sites.)

mosaic. (noun)  1. a picture or decoration made of small, usually colored pieces of inlaid stone, glass, etc; 2. the process of producing such a picture or decoration; 3. something resembling such a picture or decoration in composition, especially in being made up of diverse elements.  Proper adj.,

Mosaic: of or pertaining to Moses or the writings, laws, and principles attributed to him.  Origin c.1400, from Old Fr. mosaicq “mosaic work,” from M.Latin musaicum “mosaic work, work of the Muses,”… from L. Musa (see muse). Medieval mosaics were often dedicated to the Muses.   –Summary from entries on


Felix Culpa John Kohan

Mixed media collage on wooden panel, 53 x 52 c.
The Fall and Redemption depicted in tiles of great art.


Ideas to make a paper mosaic

  • Use leftover pieces of mat board and magazine pages to make a mosaic on mat board
  • Make all the pieces the same size and shape varying only color, shade, and tint
  • Or let the pieces follow the forms and shapes of your subject
  • Or combine the two ideas above
  • Mount magazine images on the mat board, cut apart for tiles
  • Paint the mat board, then cut apart for tiles
  • Use plain mat board for grout, mount your tiles flush with each other, or create your own grout using magazines
  • Add a third dimension – build up
  • Depict a recognizable subject, go abstract, or work a pattern
  • Use text, letters, numbers
  • Make the background a mosaic with a figure or silhouette in foreground
  • Make a Mosaic Mosaic (refer to Moses in your mosaic)


Izzy - detailLin Schorr – Izzy (detail)

A multi level exercise in color and non-representational form made using stained glass and glass rods on a stacked substrate.  29″ x 12″ x 1.5”

Leigh Adams – Transmitted Light Mosaic

Homage to Bill Crite’s Morning on the River is a layered glass mosaic.

Laurie Mika

Anna Vlaminck


The Telling

June 19, 2012

Write a part of the story God is telling through your life

The following is one of the projects from the Halcyon Arts Creative Room during The Creative Church Conference.


  • Take one of the points that made an impression on you today and work through how you will apply it in your life
  • Ask God what He wants to communicate through you
  • Pretend God is writing a letter to you; take down what He says
  • Combine writing and illustration, or writing and magazine collage

Illustrated Bible Study, Prayers, Writing, and Scripture

(Click on the photos to go to the source page.)

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