Deeper into Oz

10 Jul

My dear friend Jenny is an artist. She creates colorful, personal, spiritual paintings. The process of painting for her is usually of layers and changing colors on colors as she discovers in her where the color needs to be and what it means.

Back in February, my sis and I were at Jenny’s studio for First Fridays and I was nosing around in her unfinished pile. I came upon a painting that made me do ‘the Ra squeal.’ I pulled it out and was instantly in love.

I already knew that the title of my student chapel service in April was going to be ‘Out of Oz’ and I thought this painting was perfect for the publicity. Back in February Jenny hadn’t decided which way was up yet, we actually tried it each direction, I thought it could make a good yellow brick road that was red turned a quarter either way.

When Jenny created the flyer she warned me that the

painting had transformed a little, and I was  excited because the change process would have gone really well with my talk. But as you can see, it wasn’t a whole lot different.

This Wednesday some friends and I were helping Jenny move studio spaces and I got to see the painting again. She is always working on a bunch of pieces at any given time and some chill for a while before becoming ‘complete’ or added on to.

It took my breath away, (not just because we were moving and it was hot as heck). It has more depth now, before it was fun and bubbly, now there’s something else there too. Jenny said to me, ‘Now it’s about Joplin.’

When I saw it and she said that I knew I had to write about it. When she first started this painting, she didn’t know which way was ‘up.’ It wasn’t originally created as a tornado until I suggested it could be for my flyer, and it was long before the word Joplin brought an emotional reaction to the multitudes of this area.

And that’s exactly like life. The first time we have an experience, or even the first thousand times, we may see it from one perspective. Then something changes. Sometimes it’s a comment from a friend or stranger, other times it’s something that effects the psyche of the community like the Joplin tornado.

When something changes though, there is a choice: we can pretend that nothing happened and it’s business as usual, or we can acknowledge the shift.

When something changes we have the chance to go deeper within ourselves, we ask the questions: What does this mean to me? How do I heal what is hurting? What have I learned?  How do I show up in the world with this new experience/insight?

We don’t always have the answers, and we don’t always like the answers we get. Usually though, the answers bring us to new deeper ways of seeing and understanding ourselves and the world. If we’re paying attention, these insights help us to continuously create a better life.

Like Jenny’s paintings, our lives are a journey. While a painting will eventually be declared complete, there is, at least for Jenny, always a dozen more in progress. The journey of  life is no different. I think of all the pieces of my life and anything I could have called a ‘complete’ journey (such as graduating from college) could also be described as a marker on another dozen roads.

When Jenny allowed this painting to be published for my service, she said it might be done. I have heard her say this before, and it means that she is waiting for the clarity of the next step. While she is waiting for that clarity, she has plenty of other paintings to keep her busy and so she waits. This patience for her work is an example to me, there is much wisdom to letting situations/people/projects rest for a bit to see what the next step might be.

And so dear friends, I invite you to ask the questions, to sit in the unknowing, and be willing to have the painting of your life turned sideways if it will better express you.

Peace and blessings,


PS Check out Jenny’s work here


3 Responses to “Deeper into Oz”

  1. Dawn Downey July 12, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    Rachel, You’ve really captured the challenges and gifts that come with change. And I loved reading about your relationship with the painting. The story makes the painting come alive, as though it were a person. I hope you’ll come and see this and lots more of Jenny’s art at the Fringe Fest, with Consciousness Trifecta. I’d like to get to meet you.

    • preacherchick July 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

      Thanks for your comment Dawn. I try to get to as much as Jenny’s stuff as possible. I am looking forward to the Consciousness Trifecta and already have it on my calendar to attend the second weekend. I’ll see you then!


  1. Verbal vomit « preacherchick - January 20, 2012

    […] PS, I’ve blogged about Jenny’s work before, in Deeper into Oz. […]

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