Category Archives: Art


pentimento (pĕnˌtəmĕnˈtō) [key], painter’s term for the evidence in a work that the original composition has been changed. 

Despite my good intentions, there was no beauty in the outer lines. The peace I so longed to paint upon the canvas held the jarring discord of the reality. I did not know how to bring peace within the relationship this mandala represented. I did not feel direction in how to breech that barrier. Imposed hope, unwanted judgments clashed as colours and line created dissonance. Only the centre held promise.

How the urge to flight, to run away from what I couldn’t seem to fix held me! Throw the canvas away! Repaint the background to obscure the creative mess! What good are intentions if the product is flawed?

I was stopped by the centre, the seed and ground of my own heart. Green radiating from the spiral spoke to me. 

I raised my paint brush and began to recolour some lines. As I did, it struck me. This mandala was walking me through the inner labyrinth. This time on the journey was the walk toward the centre, that time of Release, the emptying to make room for the changed. The past could not be undone but colours and lines could be revisioned by letting go of what needed change.

I chose the colours that were darker for the heaviness of their pigments. Spiralling upward as layers obscured the colours and line below. I prepared for what will come by letting go.

It is not finished. Releasing is a spiralling process in time. It will come as I take the steps I can see. Each will draw me to that place of Revelation which will lead me to Return to the place of serving more deeply again. It will not be what was. It will have a new beauty.

I look at the mandala and see raised shadows as the only evidence of what had once been.

Only the centre remains.


**Credit to Heather Plett for teaching me the stages of a labyrinth

**Credit to Info Please for the wording in the definition of pentimento.


Shades and Shadows

Now it is my turn to decide what to do with this black crayon in my hand. It may not be clear right away how best to enhance the art of life with this creative tool, but if I am willing to take the time to step back and look at the whole picture, the answer will come. It will take patience and wisdom and a willingness to look within to the inner artist who sees beyond my limited outer vision. (

It can never again be the picture it was. Carefully applied colours and points of light are buried beneath the black shadings. Greens and grays blend a mask hiding the carefully placed lines which once was. As incomplete and artificial as it was, the image I had held on to for so long no longer exists as more than a mapping of shapes and a loose rendition of colors chosen long ago. I opened my heart and hand choosing to use the black for change. With inner healing, old options were no longer available.

For too many years I ingested the black anger, eating the black crayon, avoiding the deeper shades, burying the darkness inside when it wouldn’t just go away. Turning it toward myself brought thoughts of death and self harm. It didn’t matter whether I acted it out. I was no different in that interior place where self conception flourished or died then someone who acted on those thoughts. Knowing this inner darkness growing with each new shadow I took inside, my outer world became more pastel, more secretive to hide what I saw beyond my face when I looked in a mirror.

No more. Anger and emotions we label as dark are a part of the hues and shades creating the richness of life. We are not created to ingest and bury those materials holding some of life’s creative potential. Can you imagine a landscape without shadow or shading?

So I took paint brush in hand and let my inner artist undo the paled colour palette which had made my artwork incomplete. The deed has begun. I look at it now and can see potential I had not seen before. There is depth and dimension I had not imagined.

It isn’t finished. I can’t yet see what the new tones will bring into being. The change is too deep to happen in a single setting. It will take time and openness to the inner artist to bring forward the new vision I am only beginning to see.

In life events, it is no different. Moments come when something within says, “No more!” When there is no further to bend without breaking and something has to give. Having been taught by forces in life certain mores of acceptability, and coupling that learning with previous  maladaptive ways of addressing uncomfortable relationships, the tension of choosing to address the problem instead of hiding from it is testing every reserve within me.

For days I held that black crayon in hand not sure how to use it to create art in life instead of destroying what I had. I began reaching for resources, others whose guidance and support can help me make healthy changes within the tension. I am accepting the emotional turmoil and accessing resources to support me as I take these new steps.

I do so without  knowing how the painting or this time in my life will turn out. Will the potential depth be something I can carry out? Will my inner and outer resources be enough to complete what has been begun?

I only have the ability to change myself. I have neither the moral right nor the power to change another.

So I will pick up my brush. Squeeze the tubes of paint and design what is in my power to do. I have heard though that it would be helpful to pick up a tube of Payne’s gray.

The Black Crayon

AC041389lb Was it three or four young men who joined m for those sessions that year? Some things were in common. All of them were creative, artistic in their own rights. And all of them acted out aggressively when they were angry or frustrated. How could these boys be helped to manage the strength of their emotions in a world of systems and rules?

6983401a_origOur sessions began with a drawing lessons – a box of eight crayons, a limited medium with which to depict the world. Each crayon was given an emotion and as the first drawing progressed, I talked about the emotional connections I had with each colour. I pointedly avoided the black crayon. How many times they, and I, had been told that our angry wasn’t acceptable so since I labelled that crayon anger, I wouldn’t use it in the drawing for any reason.

I then began a second drawing. By then the boys were into the ideas of the colours having meaning and were suggesting the colours to use. They  took my lead and carefully avoided black until the only colour not used was that black crayon.

It is then that I introduced that one last crayon. Black. Anger. What should I do with it? The tension and blankness was palpable in those young men as I introduced this emotion they had so often been taught was wrong. But it was a colour in my box. What could I do with it. 6983401b_origSo I demonstrated some ideas.

For the first drawing I talked about it building up and being allowed to get out of control. With abandon I scribbled black over the drawing I had so carefully worked on. The boys’ eyes nearly bugged out of their heads and their gasps were audible. I had ruined the picture. I couldn’t undo the damage I had done. That black, that anger, had destroyed something they had appreciated. Proof positive to them, anger was a harmful thing.

But then I took that second picture and I took that black crayon again. Only these time I used it were outlines and shadows would enhance the image I had created. The same black crayon that had been destructive became something that more clearly brought out the depth and clarity of the image.

RimofLife_smIt is the same with anger. I was often taught growing up that anger was sin. But when I read the Bible passages on anger, something stands out. I read to be angry and not sin. Anger is not the problem. What we do with it is. I don’t have to spend my energy pushing down what exists. I need to allow that anger to show me where a depth or clarity is missing in my life and work to correct that.

It is found in the actions of the Rosa Parks, the words of the Martin Luther Kings, in the changing understandings of Mandela that finally led to new recognition of disenfranchised people. It is Jesus in the temple seeing religion sold to those who could afford the price.

When one of the young man came and ask for a box of crayon and paper when he felt like exploding, I knew they had made the connection. That young man later wrote songs performed in assemblies and concerts. He had begun to understand the choices we can make with all we carry inside.

The anger that resides in me is not about as big an issue as any of these but there is within its depths a desire for justice and the right to be heard on behalf of others. Now it is my turn to decide what to do with this black crayon in my hand. It may not be clear right away how best to enhance the art of life with this creative tool, but if I am willing to take the time to step back and look at the whole picture, the answer will come. It will take patience and wisdom and a willingness to look within to the inner artist who sees beyond my limited outer vision.

What will you do with your black crayon when you hold it in your hand?

2014 summer art projects completed in August

“There is a feeling of wonder when you put that last touch on a painting and something deep inside you says it is finished. At that moment it doesn’t matter what anyone else will think of it. You look at what the inner artist has created with your hands and you are filled with awe.” Comment posted when the last brush stroke was added to Smoke in the Air.

Golden fields

This was painted with acrylics on an old terracotta wine cooler. The picture is based on some photos from a recent trip from Alberta to Manitoba.

P1090427c P1090436c P1090435c P1090434c

Smoke in the Air

Based on sunsets at Rocky Lake. I watched the red globe of the sun roll down over the horizon one night and was told the colours came from smoke in the air caused by northern forest fires. To me that is such an image of finding the beautiful in the midst of the fears in our lives that I had to try to bring that sun into the image.


It’s No Surprise


She is living a dream from childhood. Today is the final show for this year’s theatre festival. Her play has been nominated for an award honoring the best 10294452_10152346439310091_4593152265505484908_nnew play shown at the festival.

I remember when she shared with me the first edit of the script. In the months that followed, the content remained the same but the timeline morphed to create the experience viewed in the past two weeks. Four characters, a director, a stage manager, light technician and assistant manager brought the story to life. Many of the faces were familiar — people who have become connections through the years she had begun to realize a dream that was such a part of her she almost didn’t recognize it for what it was.


Friends on stage and in life

From early in life, she loved stories, people and drama in an ever shifting order of priorities. She blames some of it on me. Her brother had the kind of active curiosity that would get him into scrapes before he could even walk. When she joined our family just short of his second birthday, nursing time would also be the time I would read him stories. Where some people find comfort in food, she has told me, she finds comfort in books and ties it to that time before she was even fully aware of her history.

didn’t stop there. At one and a half when I helped with the script work on a children’s musical, she came along with me since her older brother would be in the choir and needed to know the songs as well as a 3 and a half year old could. Megan played quietly behind the piano until P1090231cthe practices got under way. Then she decided a game of peek-a-boo with the choir was in order. A few giggle spurred her on and soon she had the whole group laughing. Figuring out the cause I picked her up and took her to the back of the room where I was watching. She happily played with a hat under the table for about 5 minutes. Then, with the hat jauntily posed on her head she made a dash for the front of the choir where she began to dance around. Needless to say, her dad got elected for babysitting duty during the rest of the practices.

P1090236cMegan loved dress up of any form. Perhaps the first year role as doll to her cousins on their visits helped there. My trunk of clothes played multiple duty as the girls would come and make their plays including Megan and Ian in the drama. When later we moved away from them bringing the trunk came along, the plays continued with Megan including her brother, her friends and her little sister in her scripts. The life size rag dolls had roles as well in the dramas that formed the play at home complete with mimicking cadences from familiar voices. I know I cringed more that once when I would hear my own tones a bit too realistically for comfort.

P1090237cShe brimmed with stories and songs. When given a tape and taught to press the buttons on the machines, the merry sound of stories and songs filled the air. When she would run out of material she would continue in rhythmic gibberish until she found her next idea. During those times, our main conversation was “Mom, turn the tape! I’m done!”

Halloween was a favorite time of year. For that day she could become whatever she dreamed of being. With sewing machine and second hand clothing or a piece of bargain material, I would create the costumes, Sometime in elementary school she also took over her own costume design starting with the year she was the secretary with the typewriter box for the treats.

HowhardisittostandontwofeetcShe participated in choreography books in middle years, used her classmates as the stones in a presentation about Stonehenge, was a part of drama in high school. Yet when beginning university her dreams focused elsewhere. The theatre company at her university brought her back to her dreams. In the end, her major became her minor and Megan graduated in theatre arts.

The Fringe and her group of friends found their center in those days. She has never looked back.

Tonight she will find out whether or not the award will come to her. I chose to write before that moment because this is not about the award it is about the girl, a woman now, who is finding her dreams and, in so doing, bringing pleasure and thoughtfulness to others.

It’s no surprise. She has always seen life as a treasure to unwrap — and a story to tell.


* To give credit where credit is due, since most of my involvement in her theatre life is from the audience seat, the adult pictures of her are from her cache of pictures taken by others.

Update: No, she did not win the award. Her only comment when talking to me about it was how much she liked the play that did win.


P – The Language of Paint

PIt began with a mandala drawn in my outer self’s carefully geometric lines Satisfied with the pattern but restlessly struggling with a sense of something more, I sat back, looking at the picture in front of me. There, where no shapes were drawn, I could see four more connected mandalas like shadows on the page beckoning to be filled.

To my outer self it almost felt like tracing the lines through a thin page in the first coloured pencil, marker and crayon art work about 5 years ago. Yet when it was finished I knew I had met a part of myself I had buried inside. There was an artist within. It didn’t matter whether or not I would ever be anyone famous. There was, within me, the ability to move beyond a camera and create images that were my own.

I began to explore the world of art. That inner eye seemed to gravitate to acrylics and collage so I have been following along in the past few years.

The paintings below are a few that came to mind as I considered placing some of them on here. Each has its own story that would fill far more than a single post. But art is about communication between the image and the viewer so I will leave them here with you to see what and if any of them speak to you.



“It Begins in the Dark” and “Make Way”, L.J. Andres, Acrylic




Secrets, L.J. Andres, Acrylics



Totems, L.J. Andres, Acrylics



Sunbrushed, L.J. Andres, Acrylics



Strained Glass, L.J. Andres, Acrylics



M – The Masks we wear


Masks by Shel Silverstien

It was the class nobody wanted to teach. Even the “good” kids chose to go to some other grade level instead of being with “them”.  I volunteered. When I heard that there was a group of kids that no one wanted to teach, my head heard “Here is a group of kids with a lot of interesting characteristics that aren’t being tapped.” It sounded like a place where I just might feel at home myself. I volunteered and found a group of kids I deeply cared about.

mask 0utside

Flying Free, L.J. Andres, Photo collage

Lessons would not be able to match the “normative” fashion. These kids were jaded with church and all things Christians. Their lives were music, secretive drugs and drinking parties with friends that were as far away from religious as they could find.

One activity I took them through was the creation of masks. Given a coloured poster board mask and markers, they were asked to decorate the front of the mask to look the way they felt it expressed how they tried to appear to others. Words, pictures, cut outs from magaizines began flying onto the masks. The energy was high, discussion was ongoing and sharing at the end went without a hitch.

The last half of this activity had a different emphasis. Now they were to turn the mask over and decorate it or write words for how they saw themselves inside. This part of the activity took longer than the first and was done with far less banter and smiling. Only in assuring them they wouldn’t have to share them would any of the kids risk doing the project.

Inside mask1For these young people, there was the need for an opportunity to learn safety in  beginning to open up in growing relationship with the God who knew them intimately. Realizing that they were not alone, that we all had faces on the inside that we were afraid to reveal opened the safe space within the room for sharing.

Have you ever struggled with holding up a public image while you carry something different inside? If so, this mask exercise is a good one for help you open up to what is within.

Then, since the God of love already knows what it there, perhaps we can risk letting down our masks  as we move to grow from the inside out until what is outside and what is inside can be closer to the image God had for our life before we were born.

If you have lived within norms that have caused you to shame the truths in your life, the journey may not be easy. In the end though, it will be worth it. It isn’t the same for everyone, but the ones you find will be the right ones for you.

This is the poem I have used each time I do this activity with a group. It is a good reminder to look at others with new ideas. It encourages us to look beyond the surface to get to know individuals for who they really are.

cacooned wthin2

Cacooned within, L.J. Andres, We have within us the gifts that can lead us to the truth that will set us free.


 Please hear what i’m not saying

Don’t be fooled by me.
Don’t be fooled by the face I wear
for I wear a mask,
a thousand masks,
masks that I’m afraid to take off,
and none of them is me.

Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me,
but don’t be fooled,
for God’s sake don’t be fooled.
I give you the impression that I’m secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well
as without,
that confidence is my name and coolness my game,
that the water’s calm and I’m in command
and that I need no one,
but don’t believe me.
My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,
ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Beneath lies no complacence.
Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this. I don’t want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
That’s why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
to help me pretend,
to shield me from the glance that knows.

But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only hope,
and I know it.
That is, if it’s followed by acceptance,
if it’s followed by love.
It’s the only thing that can liberate me from myself,
from my own self-built prison walls,
from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.
It’s the only thing that will assure me
of what I can’t assure myself,
that I’m really worth something.
But I don’t tell you this. I don’t dare to, I’m afraid to.
I’m afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance,
will not be followed by love.
I’m afraid you’ll think less of me,
that you’ll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
I’m afraid that deep-down I’m nothing
and that you will see this and reject me.

So I play my game, my desperate pretending game,
with a facade of assurance without
and a trembling child within.
So begins the glittering but empty parade of masks,
and my life becomes a front.
I tell you everything that’s really nothing,
and nothing of what’s everything,
of what’s crying within me.
So when I’m going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I’m saying.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I’m not saying,
what I’d like to be able to say,
what for survival I need to say,
but what I can’t say.

I don’t like hiding.
I don’t like playing superficial phony games.
I want to stop playing them.
I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me
but you’ve got to help me.
You’ve got to hold out your hand
even when that’s the last thing I seem to want.
Only you can wipe away from my eyes
the blank stare of the breathing dead.
Only you can call me into aliveness.
Each time you’re kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
each time you try to understand because you really care,
my heart begins to grow wings-
very small wings,
very feeble wings,
but wings!

With your power to touch me into feeling
you can breathe life into me.
I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
how you can be a creator-an honest-to-God creator-
of the person that is me
if you choose to.
You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,
you alone can remove my mask,
you alone can release me from my shadow-world of panic,
from my lonely prison,
if you choose to.
Please choose to.

Do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach to me
the blinder I may strike back.
It’s irrational, but despite what the books say about man
often I am irrational.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
and in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down those walls
with firm hands but with gentle hands
for a child is very sensitive.

Who am I, you may wonder?
I am someone you know very well.
For I am every man you meet
and I am every woman you meet.

Charles C. Finn