Sunflower Story: The Sacred Joy of Creating

Detail of Sunflower by Tyhara Rain

If you looked closely at the sunflower wall photo in my previous blog post, you might have noticed a sunflower sculpture adorning the space.

Tyhara Rain, a student whom I introduced on the blog a few months ago, created the sunflower for me. Isn’t she the best? Initially, she painted a sunflower, but even though I thought it was beautiful, she refused to give it to me because she was not satisfied with it.

Sunflower by Tyhara Rain

Before I give you an “up close and personal” view of the sunflower sculpture, I thought I’d share Tyhara’s words regarding her journey:

I’ve been doing art since I was 6. I dabbled in pencil/charcoal sketches, oil paints, even photography, but I felt I lacked passion and inspiration for it. I never considered myself an artist because I literally didn’t even enjoy doing art! It was something I could do because I practiced so much. This year, I begged God to help me find a medium I enjoyed. Even if I didn’t believe this was a talent, I understood that God expected me to use any abilities I had for His honor and glory. One of my favorite professors had a wall full of sunflower themed art and I really wanted my piece for her to be special. I remembered how much I enjoyed the process of trying to sculpt a tree last year–but it broke and I totally gave up–and since I had an idea in my head for a clay sculpture of a hand holding a sunflower, I decided to go for it!

Before Painting: Tyhara and the Sunflower

Tyhara shared much of the creative process via Instagram stories–very late at night. Sometimes during sleepless nights, I’d tune in and listen to her chat and watch her create for a few minutes:

When she finished the piece, Tyhara carefully walked through campus to deliver the sunflower to me before a Shakespeare class session. When she unveiled it, she learned that one of the petals had tragically fallen off during transport.

Two more petals followed. It sat in my office while waiting to be repaired:

Then, she visited one afternoon and repaired the sunflower while we chatted:

After a little artist magic…um skill…the sunflower emerged stronger than ever!

In her words–

[Creating this sunflower] was the beginning of a wonderful journey I’ve decided to embark on as an artist. (I finally feel comfortable calling myself that). I’m incredibly thankful for this talent God gave me. Not only did He help me find a medium I enjoy but He pushed me so far outside my comfort zone and far from the mediums I grew up using that I could never again deny that God blessed me with a talent to create as an artist and desired for me to find joy in creating just as He does.

Tyhara has created many, many sculptures since making the sunflower for me–each one more intricate, more detailed. Here are a couple. The vintage album piece is absolutely stunning–and I’m not just saying that because of the sunflowers. [Click an image for a closer look].

Tyhara’s inspiring “journey to the sunflower” underscores an innate desire to create that resides in all of us. Made in the image of the Divine Creator, we are drawn to the creative process and have an almost sacred urge to make our creative mark in the world–no matter how big or small. It takes different forms–art, music, a poem, a story, dance, food, a theory, a lesson plan–but the act of creation involves and allows us to share beauty, love, and light. Joy is the precious outcome.

A Quiet Moment to Consider the Pretty

This moment…quiet. I hear my colleague’s voice through the walls. Other than that, I’m relishing a sweet quiet that I haven’t had all week.

I need this moment.

“A Modern-Day Castle,” Photo by Celia

I’m taking advantage of this unhurried silence to look through the box of pretties I keep in my office–beautiful photos taken by my many photographer friends on swap-bot.  I ran across a set of photos by Celia, a Sharp Shooter I have not “seen” in ages. Her photography is lovely and I distinctly remember the package, though I received it many years ago–before I started blogging.

“Never Too Much Red,” Photo by Celia

The photos deserve more than my eyes, so I’ve decided to share them because, maybe, you need a pause in your hectic schedule; maybe, you need a moment or two to consider the pretty.

“Blown Kisses and Blushes,” Photo by Celia

From the modern-day castle to the bright red flowers filling the frame; from the sweet innocence of blown kisses from one blushing child to another to teddy bear love…

“Precious Teddy,” Photo by Celia

These images fill me with good things, help quiet my mind, and make the silence sweeter.

Soaring Like a Mountain Eagle

Eagle’s Wings: Photo captured at Brechtel Park in Algiers (Westbank New Orleans, Louisiana), 2011

…and there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he forever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than the other birds upon the plain, even though they soar. –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

A “Red, White and/or Blue” World: Not a Political Statement

Sometimes, I get a little too busy to share all the goodies that find their way to my mailbox, so on this exciting Saturday night as I get a jumpstart on laundry, I’m stealing a moment to share the beautiful notecards swap-bot Sharp Shooter “Midteacher” sent to me a few weeks ago.  These were sent for a “Red, White and/or Blue” swap hosted by one of the group founders, Lou.  She hosts a color-themed photo swap monthly.

Midteacher

“White Flowers” by Midteacher

Midteacher

“Red Flower” by Midteacher

Raspberries by Midteacher

“Raspberries” by Midteacher

Daisy by Midteacher

“More White Flowers” by Midteacher

Isn’t this a beautiful bundle of cheer to find in a mailbox?  Check out the detail of the raspberries! Midteacher edited the two photos on top in an app.   I love the linen fabric treatment.

I played around in an app with two of the photos I sent to my own partner for the swap.

Blue Dog Sculpture @ Besthoff Sculpture Garden at New Orleans City Park

Blue Dog Sculpture @ Besthoff Sculpture Garden at New Orleans City Park

Red Dog Sculpture @ Besthoff Sculpture Garden in New Orleans City Park

Red Dog Sculpture @ Besthoff Sculpture Garden in New Orleans City Park

You might be familiar with famous Cajun artist George Rodrigue‘s loup-garou, better known as the “Blue Dog.”  There are three of the “dog” sculptures in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Gardens at City Park in New Orleans (there’s also a yellow one). I edited these two in the Waterlogue app which was an obsession several months ago.   I think I like the app because it makes me feel like an artist. 😉

Here’s another of my “Blue Dog” modifications:

"Black and White and Blue All Over"

“Black and White and Blue All Over”

Only the dog kept his color.  These photos were shot three+ years ago. Frankly, I’m not crazy about any of “dog” photos–original or modified.  If I were to capture them again, I’m sure I’d take a completely different approach.

What’s red, white and/or blue in your world?