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Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. Jeremiah 33:3
I purchased a mock Moleskine sketch journal under the name of Piccadilly. It’s virtually the exact same as the Moleskine journal except for the color of the paper and the cover fabric construction. What I had hoped would NOT be true of the Piccadilly, which is true of the Moleskine, is ink bleeding through the paper and I’ve been sadly disappointed. (Note to artist readers, the Moleskine Watercolor Journal does not bleed.) Even still, I’ve been working away in my little Piccadilly, and happily too – I just love the 5 x 8 sized journal, I can toss it in my bag and it’s small enough to be inconspicuous when I take it out for a minute here and there to try to get a few sketches in.
So today, I happened to pick up (in our local library!) a stunning book by Steve Mumford “Baghdad Journal: An Artist in Occupied Iraq” and I’m about mid-way through where watercolorist and journalist Steve is sharing his experiences in learning about the art scene in Baghdad. This book is a sensitive work that is truly transportive. The richness and the dialogue of Steve’s watercolors really make you feel like you’re there. And although I dislike violence, war and military occupation (and this is not a book I would normally have been drawn to), the plates Steve shares really do bring you a sense of the livelihoods of the Iraqi people and their struggle during the occupation. Some of the simpler works, with simple ink lines and one tone washes are stark and poignant. The more detailed and colorized works like Plate 90 of women and children waiting while soldiers search their house in February 2004, are emotive and difficult from a certain perspective to view for very long. These are not the stories we grew up with – they are fully adult, fully human, and even more so complicated and multi-layered.
All of this, seeing Steve’s art journaling, made my own feel very pedestrian and elementary (even if our concentrations are different), and also brought more to mind the thousands of occasions to call on Jesus. I had previously started a piece on this theme, using technology to dial up Jesus, being in constant communication with him, and his accessibility. How many of us walk around, phone in hand, but how many of us have him on “speed dial” or how many of us have hearts that skip a beat when receiving a call from an unknown source (maybe THIS will be the deal I’ve been looking for, or my BIG break, or GOOD NEWS)? So I thought I’d share with you how the bleed through has affected my starting work shown above. While we may often be working in an area that is totally remote from another discipline, we unknowingly share common threads with things previously unknown. And so, Jeremiah 3:33 seems like a unifying thought in these disconnected tidbits of a faith art journalist’s life.