Artist Teena Stewart works in several mediums including acrylics and oils. Also a writer, she has a book entitled Secrets of Successful Small Studies, which is projected to be released at the end of the year. Teena is currently working on a novel.
LeAnne: Can we learn or gain anything from art created by nonChristians?
Teena: We can see that there is beauty all around in different forms and that those who don't necessarily profess faith can still express beauty. By looking at art by nonChristians we can develop a sensitivity to people and their values. We can pray for the artist's salvation. We can see where we might make a difference by correcting injustices the artist has pointed out or connecting with specific cultures and belief systems—to recognize their struggles and issues. Or we can use the artwork as a springboard to discuss with others what the work means, what is moral or immoral about it, etc. Art can be a huge connecting point. It is very subjective. If someone likes a specific artist, we can find out why that particular artist or artwork speaks to them. By doing so we develop a common denominator that may open the door to discussing spiritual matters.
LM: Who are some of your favorite painters?
TS: Whenever I look at the work of some of the old masters, I can’t help but praise God for the incredible gift they were given: for example, the energy and power of Michelangelo’s work, the light and shadows of Carravagio. Even though not all of the artists who painted such works were believers, their work still stands as a witness to God. When you see the incredible talent and the way their work is rendered, you can't help but praise Him.
LM: We have talked before about worshipping through creating. Tell me more about your experience.
TS: When I work on a drawing, painting or even something that is more graphic design, I tap into the God-given gift he has given me. I find myself praying a lot. “Lord help me do my best. Lord, thank you for giving me pleasure in art and creativity. Thank you for this gift. Help me make this pleasing to others and maybe touch lives.” Creating in this way uses a different part of my brain and it removes me from the usual grind and things I normally focus on.
There is this overwhelming sense of peace. A lot of times it’s like having a quiet time with God. If I am doing something from nature I find myself praising the creation I am studying. If I am doing a human figure I can't help but think of the verse that talks about us being fearfully and wonderfully made. We are all so different and so unique and He loves every one of us for that uniqueness and that makes me praise Him.
What is really special is when someone comes back and says they really love my work. It’s so tempting to want to take the credit, but I say “thank you,” and then I thank God, for giving me the ability and helping me accomplish it, because I know I could never have done it by myself. It keeps me humble.