Friday, September 28, 2012

If I can't travel the US at least my art can...

"A Clean Slate": 32" x 32" framed Collage
If you recognize this weeks image you may have caught the piece on display in December at the One of a Kind show in Chicago or you may have seen it here before. This week I am honored to share with you that "A Clean Slate" was selected for an outstanding traveling exhibit titled  "Touch, Annoint and Heal: God With Us". The exhibit is being sponsored by Christians In the Visual Arts organization and the selection process was tough as over 300 works were entered and juror Richard Cummings, an Associate Professor of Art at College of the Ozarks, was able to select only 30 pieces to travel with the show. This exhibit is scheduled to open December 2012 at Apostles Anglican Church in Lexington, Kentucky and will travel for at least one year throughout the country. I will update you on the locations of the show as I hear of them and hopefully you can catch it in your area!

This is the last week to take advantage of my "First Fruits Offering"- pre-sale offering of gratitude and praise. If you haven't had a chance yet, be sure to head over to the website and get in on the deal.

Monday, September 24, 2012

What Dreams May Come

 "I'll Take You There"   Mixed Media Collage by Crystal Neubauer
Recently I saw a link to a blog post pop up in my newsfeed on Facebook- it had something to do with our dreams not being just for us. I have to admit I did not read the blog post, just the title, and I am sorry to say I can't recall who posted it, so I can't give proper credit to the mention here (if you think you know please feel free to leave a link in the comments section), but the premise got me to thinking...
If our dreams are not for us, then who are they for? I thought of the motivation I get from my dream to get up each morning and enter my studio. To have that dream held out in front of me keeps me moving toward it, even when it seems to be so far away. No one else shares the exact vision of my dream, no one else can see it, or know the depths of the ache of it, so how can it not be just for me?

I started thinking of my wise counselor and how she shared with me that she began feeling a stirring toward counseling while working as a successful business woman with a lucrative salary. Outwardly it did not make sense for her to quit this stable career for the unknown and unrealized dream she held in her heart, but having that dream gave her the motivation to take the risk, not an easy thing to do as a single woman, to give up her secure job and go back to school in pursuit of that dream. I thought of how much I had benefited from her dream - not just as my very wise counselor but more along the lines of a "life coach" - and how far I've come toward realizing my own dreams because she pursued hers. She has a unique voice and giftedness, her dream is actually her calling and I am the better off for it. 
I also think of a neighbor who has pursued her dream - another calling really - who has impacted the neighborhood in a major way just reaching out and praying for and loving on others. Her dream for the neighborhood has helped her to persist for years and many lives have been changed because of her. And those changed lives have grown and spread into other communities and other states. One small action, one woman who had a dream to break the bondage and small thinking that impoverishment can create.

There are days when I am tempted to quit. Tempted to get the secure and stable "real job" and give up on pursing my dream.  And so what if I did? Who would it affect besides me? Isn't it just my dream?
As I settle in to my new studio space in a new community, I sense it is time to begin taking the next step and I have to admit I am stepping out there timidly and with trepidation. I feel vulnerable. There is a voice - that voice - whispering "who do you think you are?" and part of me agrees and believes it is true. I am nothing. I am nobody. I am not qualified. And what does it really matter anyway? 
But then I think what if it does matter? 
I will be opening my studio in a week or two to a few girls and women in the neighborhood - I've invited a few already and asked that they invite one or two as well. We will just hang out with some fun music and I will show them some collage and encaustic techniques and they will learn a bit about art, but it is my sincerest desire that they will also learn a bit about themselves and each other. About how much they are worth, what they are capable of, how much they are loved and how important they are.

As I hear that negative voice in my head trying to dissuade me, I again think of the post whose title I read the other day and I ask myself- and you - just who is this dream for anyway?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Exciting Stuff Going On...

"Tears For The Brokenhearted": 12" x 12" Collage and Acrylic on Canvas
Short of hanging some artwork and setting up a few easels, my new studio space is completely unpacked and fully functioning. It is a fresh airy space with two nice windows pulling in the early Autumn air and sounds of the water from the lake across the street. I am feeling tremendously blessed to have wound up in this home and in this community and anticipate eagerly opening my studio to the neighborhood as I continue to get settled in.

This week I get to share with you some exciting news. Many of you may be familiar Seth Apter who is a proliferate Mixed Media Artist and Author; Seth's blog "The Altered Page" features a wealth of mixed media news and spotlights mixed media artists from around the globe. In March Seth's first book "The Pulse of Mixed Media" was published by NorthLight Books and was such a hit they've asked him to do it again. And Seth has graciously invited me to be one of the "Spotlight Artists" for the book. I couldn't be more humbled! Many mixed media rock stars will be featured in this book and I am still pinching myself over being included in such a stellar group. Now that the studio is unpacked and ready to go I will be focusing my efforts on creating the art and answering the questions. I am so excited to be doing this in my new space. It just feels like it was meant to be this way.

I am still celebrating being back to work with my "First Fruits Offering"- a pre-sale offer to grab one of the first works to come from my new studio space at very low, and limited time only, prices as an offering of gratitude and praise. If you haven't had a chance to take advantage of this offer yet, be sure to head over to the website and get in on the deal and chances are your new work will be created along side the pieces I will be creating for Seth's book.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Invisible Fire

 Deep Calls To Deep    Mixed Media Collage by Crystal Neubauer
Just a few minutes late, I made my way to the back of the crowded room where I could observe the guest speaker without being noticed. I still wasn't sure what I was doing here, what brought me back to this small church meeting in a basement room each Sunday morning. It was a difficult time in my life and I needed more then the disconnect I had been feeling in my regular church home. It wasn't them, it was me. I felt God challenging me to know Him in a deeper way, but this place was outside of my comfort zone, and this morning in particular, filled with people, standing and sitting, who had come to see Todd White speak, it was even more so then usual. My day had started with an earnest private pleading with God to still the waters of my life and bring me peace. Bring me peace God. Please. Please. Please God. I was feeling fragile and I didn't want to be seen.

As I squeezed silently against the back wall, Todd, who had been facing the other side of the room, suddenly stopped mid-sentence and looked directly at me saying in a voice that carried above the crowd "God wants you to know you are entering into a season of peace"! Tears sprang to my eyes and before I could stop it my own small voice gasped "I prayed for that this morning!" There were appropriate praise murmurings all around, but they faded to a buzz as I stood amazed at the timing of this prophecy.

That afternoon a tree lost its limb smashing the rear window of my car in the driveway.

Today I am settling into a new home with only a few of my own belongings around. I can't help thinking this must be what it's like for families who have lost their homes to a fire. In some ways, I think, a fire might have been easier to sort it all out- the good from the bad- damaged belongings verses salvageable goods, and according to our insurance company would have meant our losses were covered.

Just over two months ago we moved to another home that my husband had agreed to renovate in exchange for lower rent. It was to be a time of sacrifice in which, if all went according to plan, we could begin to pay off debt and save our money to finally purchase our own home. But the house needed much more then the cosmetic work my husband had agreed to, a terrible musty odor permeated the air and no amount of cleaning could remove it.

By the time we realized how serious the problem was I was losing my hair, dealing with inexplicable dizzy spells while sitting in bed, and worsening skin and airborne allergy symptoms. Our precious kitty woke ill one day and continued to grow worse - the vet said her kidneys had shut down the day we had to put her to sleep- a result of the toxicity of the black mold spores unseen in the air.

In a sense it was an invisible fire. Thankfully many of our possessions –including my entire studio -were still in boxes stored in the garage, safe from the toxic air, but we had to throw away beds, dressers, rugs and other items which were at highest risk. Everything else went into storage, where we will slowly begin to decide one box, one item at a time, what we can attempt to clean and what else has to be thrown away.

A very wise counselor answered my fears one night in alarm as I lamented over what to do, not having any money or place to go, but knowing the situation was serious "Honey you just get in the car and GO! God will meet you there!" And there I was again; back three years ago in that season of begging God for peace to calm the waters that were threatening to flood my life. Without resources and with no permanent place to go - could I really trust Him to meet me in this?

Stepping back to the big picture, there is an array of core lies that God has been weeding out of my belief system for several years now- indeed through each one of these stormy seasons there have been blessings and breakthroughs- but still I wrestled with the big one. Will God really meet me in this?

Can I really trust God?

A lifetime of fears was at stake and God had lovingly hemmed me in. Bring me peace God. Please. Please. Please God. And that is exactly what He did. As I got into my car and drove away He was there to meet me. From the well timed large sale from my website the first day, to winding up renting a home fully furnished and stocked – a story I might share in more detail another day – God was meeting me in my need every step of the way and showing me just how much I could let go of control and trust Him.

It turns out the prophecy spoken to me three years ago was correct, I really was entering a season of peace – but as long as I had my eyes on the storms around me I was missing it.

Peace, you see, had nothing to do with my circumstances and everything to do with trusting a loving God.

Matthew 6:19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.