Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category


IMAGO FLOW: Creative Limitations – Part I

February 11, 2013

Limitations can enrich or hinder creativity. The difference is in knowing how to make them work for, not against you. The following is the first of two posts on how limitations affect creativity.

I have a love-hate relationship with limitations.  Especially when creating.

When limitations work in my favor I allow them to participate in my creative process; but when they get in my way I spurn them like a Ferrari in Detroit.

Creative flow

Creating in-the-zone allows no stopping to eat… or sleep… or run to the bathroom. Until recently I thought this singular focus was artistic eccentricity.  Turns out there is a scientific reason for neglecting food and drink during a creative frenzy that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (how do you pronounce that?!?) calls spontaneous flow or flow experience.1

Mr. C says the human nervous system can process, or attend to, a total of 110 bits of info per second.  That’s not very much—listening to one person talk takes 60 bits. That’s why we can’t understand two people talking at once. It’s physiologically impossible. 2

Creating in-the-zone uses all 110 bits of human brain bandwidth. So hunger, sleepiness, and even being self-aware don’t register when creativity is humming like a V-8 engine firing on all cylinders fed with high-octane petrol.

When you are really involved in this completely engaging process of creating something new… you don’t have enough attention left over to monitor how your body feels or [think about] your problems at home.  You can’t even feel that you are hungry or tired.  Your body disappears. Your identity disappears from your consciousness because you don’t have enough attention, none of us does, to do something really well that requires a lot of concentration, and at the same time, to feel that you exist. So existence is temporarily suspended. 3

No time to eat

This was true for George F. Handel, composer of MESSIAH, which includes the Hallelujah Chorus, one of the most-loved choral works of all time.  Handel began composing the oratorio August 22, 1741. Part One was finished in six days. Nine days later, Part Two was completed. Another six days and Part Three was done. Two days later – 23 days, start to finish – he finalized the orchestration. The story goes that during the composing, he rarely left his room or touched his meals, writing like a mad man—most assuredly firing at 110 bits of information per second—and therefore, unable to notice his most basic needs.

I can’t compare myself to Handel, but I do know something of the intense concentration that makes hours fly with half-eaten meals long since forgotten and cold.


Like the time I worked on this mosaic for a sermon series at Trinity. I began working in the late afternoon, painted through the night, and finished the assembly in a stupor more than 36 hours later. The creative process during that weekend is still a blur to me. I moved from one task to another, as if the process was all decided, and I simply progressed to the next section or task. I don’t remember eating or doing much else except working.

I get like this when writing, too. It’s not uncommon for me to begin writing in the morning, only to realize “minutes” later that the sun has set and everyone wants dinner. On days like these I completely understand the disconnect of time between our world and Narnia!

Since watching Mr. C’s video, I now know there is a scientific explanation for ignoring everything except my current creative project. And I know I’m not loony! Where Mr. C and science fall short, however, is describing the reason for the intense focus.

Imago flow

I believe this drive is part of what it means to be created Imago Deiin the image of God. He created the world, and then made people in his creative image. He created for seven days straight—and then he rested.

Csikszentmihaly calls it “spontaneous flow” or “flow experience”.

I call it the image of God creating through me.


1. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow, the secret to happiness at 11:05.

2. Ibid; 8:30.

3. Ibid at 8:50. The tenses and broken English have been cleaned up a little for better readability.


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.)


Video for The Creative Church Conference

June 1, 2012

Here’s an interview with Scott McElroy about the conference.  The Creativity Room he talks at about the 2/3 mark is what I am working on.


The Creative Church Conference

May 30, 2012

Great opportunity for those of you in the midwest.  The Creative Church Conference in Indianapolis is June 15-17 is coming up soon.  A la carte pricing has just been added, so if you’re only available for a day or an evening, you can pay a reduced registration fee based on what sessions/days you can attend.

Rory Noland (The Heart of the Artist) will be the main speaker Friday evening.  My friends Scott McElroy (Finding Divine Inspiration) and Beth Booram (Awaken Your Senses) will be presenting workshops.  And I will be hosting the Creative Room – a place for conferees to hang out, decompress, and create if they get a bit weary from all the input and just want to make something.

Hope to see you there!

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