Written by: Laura Gibson Kudey
Let me start by saying this blog post will be a little different. It’s meatier than my usual inspirational messages. It’s a challenge. A thesis if you will. A call to action. And an algorithm of our souls. It stems from the language of a faith-filled artist. And I hope my words make sense as I relay the pictures in my mind.
Art imitates life and sometimes life imitates art. I tackle a painting like I’m embarking on an adventure, because art helps me to appreciate the adventure in life. I never see it as a coincidence when something God created mirrors itself.
I hit creative slumps quite often. One week I’ll be flowing with ideas with three paintings, four chapters, and two new character arcs. One sleepless week later, I wake up to dishes and laundry piled as high as the Alps. Then I’ll have weeks where everything I do is a struggle: no art, no new chapters, and deleting last week’s characters.
These are the weeks where I need to get back to the fundamentals of survival. The basics of life that help us remember our foundations. To not over-complicate our lives, but remember why we do what we do. The basics of who we are in Christ, and why we create/live/breathe in the first place. For an artist, this means remembering the fundamentals of art so we can be inspired once more to create. For a Christian, this means to remember His word. Because when we read His word with faith, it’s actually quite simple.
As an artist, our basic are the 7 elements to any artwork: 1. Line 2. Shape 3. Color 4. Space 5. Value 6. Texture 7. Form
Every great piece of art has all 7 elements. It’s a common language every artist knows by heart. Art can’t be created without at least a few elements. No elements equals no art.
And every healthy believer in Christ has 7 elements of faith. Every believer can’t thrive unless they have a few of these elements. No elements of faith equals no life. It’s a common language we know in our hearts. Here, let me show you how you can remember to get back to the basics…
- Line = Forget
In art, it’s the marks and signs necessary in design. Thick or thin, line helps form structure, create a drawing, and it’s the most basic component of a picture. A point moving in space. This can be two or three-dimensional, descriptive, implied, or abstract.
A line connects two points, but you NEVER connect to the beginning. You move on. Whether it’s dashes where you stop and start anew each day, or flow in one smooth motion, the important part is to look to the next point. A line can’t be created by looking back at our history, but plunging forward to our destiny. Only when we forget our hurts, tragedies, and past condemnations, can we fully grasp the finish line. The line drawn in the sand. Will we cross it by forgetting what lies behind? “Forgetting what lies behind, and straining for what lies ahead.” (Philippians 3:13)
2. Shape = Forgive
Shape cannot exist without the other basic elements of art. It’s also in charge of creating the subject matter, whether in figurative or abstract art. It can emulate any of the outlines found in nature. A shape always connects back to itself.
There’s no moving forward without forgiving. Forgiving a loved one, a friend, a stranger, and ourselves. No matter who it is, it’s impossible to connect with others if we don’t forgive. Just like a two-dimensional shape, forgiveness has two attributes: forgive others, and “your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14)
3. Color = Pray
Without color, there would be no art. Color sets the atmosphere in a painting, it describes emotions best, while styles such as Impressionism are based almost solely on color. Color is the reflection of light. Color hues come in a scale, but there are three basic colors – blue, red and yellow. When mixed, these three colors produce all other nuances of the spectrum.
Prayer is the brilliance of THE word manifested. We can enter into the throne of heaven. The vibrance of heaven isn’t black and white, but a spectrum of colors depicting joy to the fullest.
Color has 3 characteristics: 1. Hue: name of color 2. Value: hue’s lightness and darkness 3. Intensity: quality of brightness and purity. Or, how about I put this a different way… 1. Hue = The type of prayer (salvation/healing/wisdom) 2. Value = Power/sincerity/motivation 3. Intensity = Our belief put into action
4. Space = Believe
An area where positive and negative areas are defined or a sense of depth. Space is an area an artist provides for a particular purpose. It refers to the distances or area(s) around, between, and within things. There are two kinds of space: “Negative space” is the area in between, around, through or within an object. “Positive spaces” are the areas that are occupied by an object and/or form.
Whether negative or positive, this emptiness causes us to use a degree of belief. We believe God will come through because of what He says through His word. Through our prayer. And through the space in between our answered promises. “All things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” (Mark 11:24)
5. Value = Worship
The lightness or darkness of tones or colors where white is the lightest value and black is the darkest.
I just touched on value in the color element, but let’s expand on it. Value is more than power, sincerity, motivation, and the amount of light and dark, it’s worship in its rawest form. Some people don’t understand the true value of worship, and it can kill us as believers just as it causes a picture to remain flat and lifeless. Even if it’s one syllable, one stroke of light, one note, or a single shade, it showcases the amount of light or darkness in our lives. When we worship, we determine its value. I’m not saying entertainment. Not a show of lights. But praise in its most sincere form. Power. Sincerity. Motivation. And praise.
6. Texture = Give
The way things feel or look as if they could be touched. Texture provides richness and natural characteristic to the artwork. It’s achieved by combining other basic elements of art.
Giving isn’t about what we have. We don’t give simply because we have an over-abundance of stuff. We give because it comes from a heart of love. A heart full because it includes all the other elements of faith. We’re open to not just give money, but of ourselves, actions, time, and our spiritual gifts. As we give, we need to be mindful of the texture we give off. We don’t give because we feel fear or condemnation. But we give because we feel love. God’s love.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
7. Form/Depth = Witness
The most prevalent of the art elements is form. These are three-dimensional elements that enclose volume. And they include height, width, and depth. For example a cube, a sphere, a pyramid, or a cylinder. In some paintings, you can see that these forms are free flowing.
Free flowing. YES! This is the element I personally struggle with the most. But if we embrace all of the other elements, form takes shape. Form is a 3D effect of sharing our faith with others. Showing and telling the good things God has done for us. Showing the depth of our faith.
I’m often tongue-tied and struggle with forming the right words when I talk in-person. One of my biggest quirks is miss-speaking the wrong phrase or word. I love talking, but it’s not my strongest feature. Writing is. And I use my writing to witness. I’m using it now.
God gave me these art/faith element parallels today in church. These basics are as much for me as they might be for you. An algorithm is a language we all can relate to. An element of speech. It helps us remember. Helps us to grow. And helps us connect to each other. I hope this algorithm connects to you. And blesses you today.
Remember the fundamentals. Create art with your life. And use these faith elements to change the world!