Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Last week I saw a new painting in my pastor’s office. I really liked it and told him so. He said that he himself was a bit surprised by how much he liked it, because it is very different from the other works of art that he typically enjoys. In fact, he said he surprised the rest of the church staff by liking this particular work so much.

The painting was quite large, maybe 36”x42” or something like that. It was abstract, very vivid colors painted in a grid. And our pastor noted that he suspected that he liked the painting for that very reason – it was done in a grid. It was abstract, which is not usually his favorite art form. (The other works of art in his office include a Thomas Kinkade and an Ansel Adams.) But there was order to it. There were grid lines, color blocked off in squares, that gave the piece a sense of symmetry and order. He had just finished telling us that he was the kind of person who likes outlines (showing us his finished sermon for the following week, all neatly written out as a point-by-point speech), and then here was this large abstract painting hanging over his desk. This got me thinking…

I learned something about my own taste in art. I have not really been able to pinpoint before now just what kinds of art I like more than others. I like neatness, I like order, I like symmetry. I also like blends of color and texture (seems silly to even say that, because that is really a very general statement. Would anyone say that they DON’T like blends of color and texture?), and my tastes aren’t restricted to realistic art. I like poetry to have a predictable metre, but I don’t need poetry to always rhyme. I guess what I learned is that I can enjoy and appreciate art that is abstract or surreal; but I appreciate it most when it still observes some limitations. I loved the vivid colors and bold brush strokes on the painting in my pastor’s office; but I was able to appreciate them best as they were, confined to their grids, complementing one another without invading one another. There was order, there was clear design. That’s probably why I like Janene’s design works so much. They are bright, vivid, bold…and orderly. Much like creation. God created the world, a beautiful work of art, bright, vivid, bold…and orderly.

That’s probably why I like quilts so much, too, and like making them. There is much room for creativity, even within a given pattern. The quilter gets to choose the colors, the textures, the piecing stitches and the quilting stitches. Two people could make a quilt from the same pattern and they would look completely different. But the pattern is there. There is order. There are boundaries. And within those boundaries, a beautiful work of art is created.

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