Painting En Plein Air: Focusing on God’s Beauty

Hi! I’m Alyssa, the middle child of the Strauss family! I’m so glad you are here! Welcome back to my Art and Faith series! If you are new here, I’ve been beginning a journey learning how to paint en Plein air, which is the French way to say “painting outside.” Beholding the beauty of God's creation has been a great practice for focusing on God's beauty.

In this episode, I visited my brother at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas. My sister, cousin, and I went down for a short visit. I ended up only having about an hour to paint before sunset. This may seem like a decent amount of time; however, I spent almost three on my last one! Anytime I am timed, I get instantly overwhelmed and my brain shuts down. That being said, before I even sat down to paint, a challenge had already presented itself. If you are anything like me, having time pressure can ruin a perfectly good evening. However, my mood all depends on what I focus on. 

Senior Thesis Thoughts

I am a senior in high school currently enrolled in Classical Conversations. In your senior year, you write a senior thesis on whatever topic you would like, the only stipulation being that it should be an arguable topic. At this stage, I have been researching and putting thoughts together. Generally, the topic I picked is why art matters to Christians and why people should pursue it. 

I have recently been reading Beholding and Becoming: The Art of Everyday Worship. In her book, Ruth Chou Simons talks about how by intently looking at God and his creation, you slowly become more like Him by God’s power. 

Focusing on God's Beauty

So as I was painting, the opportunity to be upset about being rushed was very present, but I think in the process of so intently beholding God’s beautiful creation, I didn’t feel rushed at all. I felt peace. I enjoyed experiencing nature in this form of still practice. Leaving, I felt impacted by the beauty I had just witnessed, grateful even to have seen the sunset. If I had had more time, maybe I wouldn’t have seen that. 

Sometimes situations arise, and they come differently than you had planned. But what I’m learning is that when you focus on how out-of-control you are, you kill your mood. But, when you focus on God and His beauty surrounding you, there is nothing you can do but receive His goodness and become more like Him. Content in all situations. Joyful. Peaceful. What strikes you with wonder and awe in what surrounds you? What reminds you of God’s beauty and power? Behold that. See if it impacts you as it did me. 

Supplies From This Week's Video

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