Over the summer, the kind and talented Hannah Park came by to take some pictures in my studio. Click the photo to view their feature on the Cottage Hill Magazine blog!
Here is Hannah's website: hannahmaysonphoto.com
Cape Canaveral, Florida
Last week's NASA Social was a two-day event during which active social media users were invited to apply for special access to the Kennedy Space Center facilities, meet engineers and scientists, and interact with press and diverse social media influence-rs with the goal of sharing the NASA story with their various audiences. I found out about it via the NASA Instagram account.
Originally, my goal was to focus on gathering inspiration for new artistic endeavors, but I feel like I have come away from this experience with so much more than that.
About the mission:
Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx): NASA is sending the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to a near-Earth asteroid (Bennu). OSIRIS will use a robotic arm to acquire carbon-rich samples that could tell scientists a great deal about the origin of our solar system, and return the findings to Earth in 2023. It is the first asteroid sample return mission ever.
What I learned:
NASA is doing amazing things all the time. I had always assumed that they launched things into space here and there, but it hadn’t occurred to me how often they are churning out new, groundbreaking missions on the reg. I loved listening to the minds behind those projects explain their commitment to exploratory progress and ingenuity; they truly want people all over the world to be interested and involved.
Watching the blastoff!
If you’re curious to learn specific info (from actual smart people) about the OSIRIS-REx mission/timeline, check out these websites:
I spend a lot of time looking up at the sky. In the daytime, in the nighttime, in the rain, in the not rain. It has always caught my attention; maybe I just like checking on it and seeing what it’s up to. And especially in Texas, it’s up to something new every ten minutes. The skies have an emotional range and caprice that somehow feel connected to my own feelings and memories, through color, shape, and movement. This new Cloudscapes series, debuting on Aug. 12, showcases a few of my favorite sentimental moments with the sky.
It's officially been 1 year since I launched my online art business, and this is what it's taught me so far.
5 Lessons Learned as an Artist that Changed my Life (in 1 year)...
1. It’s a mistake to think I have it all figured out
About anything, ever. Life is more interesting when you’re a person who asks a lot of questions, not one who has all the answers. Raise your hand, spend a little extra time in the library, or just Google the H out of it. Pick a new question and repeat.
2. It’s never too late to make it better
I get frustrated when a painting isn’t turning out how I thought it would, but the pieces that I didn’t give up on are the ones I’m most proud of--even if it took me months or years to get it right. The same goes for relationships, difficulties, and hopes and dreams.
3. Get involved with others
It takes some effort, but I’ve never regretted asking someone I trust to critique my work. Vulnerability may be fatal to my ego, but the more I open up to others, the better my work becomes. We need community more than competition.
4. Focus on what you focus on
For me, it’s the night sky. Gazing up and thinking about the vast and extraordinary design of the universe gets me HYPE. The feeling of being so small yet so divinely placed among the stars heightens my intellectual, spiritual and creative processes to a point that sustains my work beyond earning money or approval.
5. No one else is you (or me)
It’s easy to look at a work of conceptual art in a museum and say “My toddler could do that.” But if such a baby genius could replicate it, chances are she wouldn’t be able to elucidate and argue for her ideas and the purpose behind her artwork, at least not in the same way as a practiced artist who can understand and defend the power of his original concept. Discovering those concepts may take time, but they’re already works of art as soon as they come to you.
The title of my FIRST PUBLIC SOLO SHOW. It means: “the impossibility of comprehending the universe”.
Thank you to Gallery Black Lagoon and everyone who came out to the show opening on Friday! It was the dreamiest dream come true!
Collaborating with the wonderful people at Austin Ridge Bible Church was a special experience in lots of ways. I got to talk about the spiritual concepts behind my artwork, hang out with the creative geniuses who filmed me while I painted, and participate in their vision for a series of sermons talking about when our hearts and the truth of the gospel collide and what happens when we follow Jesus in those moments.
After a few hours of filming, I packed up and went home and didn't think about it again--until I decided to write a post about what I learned through this experience. Here it is:
When I look at the things I want for my life, as an artist, as a wife, and as a twenty-something, I can see that at my core I’m just grasping for achievement, approval, comfort, and control. The enemy always convinces me that these things are what’s most important.
And these idols, if and when I let them rule over me, collide with the plan that God has for me, because He is sovereign, and I am not.
So, what transpires once this collision occurs, is that I will either continue to believe the enemy’s lies and let doubt or anger or misery creep in and take me down, or, I can circle back to God’s truth.
The first scenario is most often the case.
But in those moments, if I follow Jesus instead, I can inspect my thoughts, pick out the lie that I am believing, and redirect them to the truth.
For example, if I think I’ll never succeed, the lie I’m believing is that success equals earning people’s respect or admiration. But the Truth says that all I must do is rely on the Lord’s promise, and delight in it. Earthly success has no eternal value.
If I feel anxious about a particular season in my life, I am believing that it’s probably too much for God to handle also. But the Truth is that he loves me, he has a valuable role for me in this life, and He is not trying to trick me. He is in control and He is good.
If I’m self-conscious about my body, I’m believing that I have to look a certain way in order to be considered beautiful or desirable. But God tells me He knitted me together and designed how I look with precision and passion. Like an artist and his masterpiece.
If I feel worthless, all I have to remember is that Jesus was crucified and overcame death to demonstrate that I am worth everything to Him.
The Truth is where everything finally makes sense. When I am reminded of the Gospel, I feel relieved, I feel hopeful, and I feel God’s presence near me. The collision of my sinful life with the pure and powerful love of Jesus is the essence of my journey as an artist, because of the undeniable ways He uses it to bring me closer to Him.
“Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?”
- Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time
My answer: God.
I know not everyone believes in God, including most of the people who have devoted their lives to studying the ways of the universe, so I’m certainly not asking everyone to agree with me on this! But to me, God is as real as light and gravity. I experience the presence of God time and again in unique and personal ways through studying nature and the laws that govern the cosmos, and I feel there is more to His palm print on existence than scripture alone. Naturalist John Muir described nature as the “manuscripts of God”. Why should science and spirituality be at odds, when they are so intricately intertwined?
At least they are for me. The mystical, tender, experiential presence of God is most perceptible when I consider His embrace of creation and study the physical characteristics of our world and other worlds in the vast expanse of spacetime. The universe is observable and finite; there is bound to be more to existence beyond what we can fathom, and God is much greater still. I feel allured on a spiritual level to gather knowledge about outer space, because it stirs my affection for the almighty Creator.
I got into astrophysics and cosmology before my last year of college, because of an article I read about American physicists Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson. What they had stumbled upon in 1964 led to one of the most intimate realizations about the universe we’ve had in the history of time: the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation--the echo of the origin of existence. Ironically, their findings were by accident, but they illuminated the profound beginning of the universe. To me, it was a discovery that pointed to God as an un-caused cause for the genesis of the cosmos. I started to read more articles and books about cosmology, and took summer courses in astronomy and electromagnetism. My curiosity grew into a heartfelt fascination that is increasing still.
As a kid, I thought I might become a doctor or scientist when I grew up, but I was terrible at math, and math and science tend to go hand in hand. I didn’t know my times tables, but I could draw a table, so I decided to be an artist. Thankfully, art was my first and truest love--it’s what I've always felt called to do in life. Painting is one of my favorite ways to connect with my surroundings on a spiritual level and worship my Father in Heaven, and being able to share my greatest passion with my profession is a precious gift. I wouldn’t want to do anything else for a living!
So, why paint outer space? A wonderful artist I met in New York City told me that the most important thing to do while working is to make studio time creative and focused, and not to worry about what anyone else thinks. That’s what I’m trying to do. By focusing on my interest in the natural universe and the ways in which it draws me nearer to God, I am moving beyond the horizon of my home planet, where I was comfortable to paint what I thought would sell at a gallery or look nice above someone’s toilet. Maybe getting there will be a gradual process, or perhaps I might stumble upon it by accident, like Penzias and Wilson. No matter what the journey holds, it will be a chance to explore new territory and cultivate a meaningful series of works, prompted by the union of art, science, and faith.
My mom and I took a trip to NYC in early December. I got to visit my friend, Kate, go to a Late Show taping, dress in all black every day, drink wine out of a mug on a rooftop, and see some outstanding art!
Thank you for coming! I feel so grateful for the opportunity to show my work in Austin's amazing annual visual arts event. I learned a lot and loved every minute of it!
I had so much fun painting this live mountain mural at the Austin Way Magazine Art of the City event on Thursday night! What a special honor it was just to be there. Of all days, it was pouring cats and dogs--especially while I was unloading the panel and easels at the Belmont--so, I was quite damp for the first hour or so. I actually made a puddle where I had been standing. Nevertheless, I was so pumped to be there, meeting wonderful new people and doing what I love, that I just didn't care at all! SUCH FUN.
Jared is an artist in the truest form, a friend, and an unquestionably inspiring human. What an enlivening experience it was to attend an art show where the works on the walls, all of them stunningly beautiful, were created stroke by stroke with a paintbrush that was held between the artist’s teeth. Quadriplegia may have rendered him a mouthpainter, but mouthpainting has rendered him an uplifting protagonist/100% bad-A.
It’s impossible to imagine the struggle of paralysis, but I know many friends in wheelchairs who don’t flounder--they fight. That’s Jared’s story. I see the passion of the fight in his artwork, too.
As we admired the paintings, the hill country scenery, and the massive cactus garden, Alpha Rev made an appearance to perform a mini concert. There was something about the way their voices harmonized like running water, coursing through the whole house and bouncing off Jared’s paintings. I think Casey McPherson of the band used the perfect word when explaining how he felt about playing at Jared’s house, in the presence of such impassioned artistry: He called the experience “transformative.”
Visit Jared’s website at www.jdunten.com to read more about his story and work.
If there’s one thing that falling in love with art has taught me, it’s that passion is often what drives us to do the most unpredictable things in our lives.
I never imagined that I would be running my own little art business after I graduated college, or having my first show in such a gorgeous place, with an uncertain yet exciting future ahead. But here I am, and the fact that I am surprised to be here reminds me that I actually had very little to do with all this.
I owe it to the Butchofsky family, the gracious hosts of the show, for opening up their home, preparing hors d'oeuvres and wine, giving great advice, and launching my career with style and class.
I owe it to Mason, for wholeheartedly supporting me in my exploration of an artist’s lifestyle, even though it comes with strange business hours, loud music, smeared and splattered paint all over our apartment, and no salary.
I owe it to my parents, for their constant encouragement and inspiration, and for raising me to be myself.
And I owe it to everyone who came out to the show last Wednesday to sip some wine and see some art. Your interest and contributions mean so much to me, it’s hard to put it into words. This dream would not be possible without you all.
I am so happy to begin this blog. Like painting, writing has always been a meaningful part of my life; it brings me peace and builds my confidence in unexpected ways. It is a challenge, yet it is also a pleasure. My ambition here is to share stories, inspiration, and an assortment of headlines from my day-to-day, and to give us opportunities to get to know each other better.
Thank you for visiting!