Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas hiatus

© 2012
I am sorry I have been neglecting you so much lately but life just seems to be getting in the way lately with little to no prep time. I have just been oober busy getting Christmas gifts ready. Which is the picture shown here of a tenor saxophone I did for my uncle who is also a saxophonist. His bachelor pad needed some more decoration he said. This painting has taken me a lot longer than most of my paintings do with such intricate detail, I probably spent close to 15 or 20 hours on it! Then the day after Christmas I was scheduled for a wisdom teeth consultation that was scheduled just on Christmas Eve. Then I promptly had them removed on the 27th and have been recovering slowly. Well I just thought I would share this latest painting, and let you know I. Haven't disappeared.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Flying Forward

Just thought I would share quickly what I have been working on. This is the unfinished painting I just started last week that represents the change from student to teacher that is beginning as I just finished my last week of finals ever!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Self Portrait

I though I would share a painting I did at the beginning of this year as the year closes. Besides I have been so busy lately with the end of the semester that I haven't had a lot of time to paint. Thus I am pulling out something I did awhile ago that I haven't shared yet.

Self Portrait © 2012
My original plan for this piece was to take many photos of myself and paint them one on top of the other until I made it to this last and most current photo, as a way to see my self through time, like a life map of sorts. I made many life maps during November through March. Somehow I didn't happen though. I think God knew I needed to see me in the now more at that moment. I needed to figure out who the new me was shaping out to be. He knew I could see who I was in the past but the current and the future were to hard for me to handle.

I don't know about you but I hate photos of my self, so it was a challenge to find one that I would be okay using. The photos I do like of myself aren't always the ones others would necessarily choose as characteristic of me either, but I guess that is what makes it a self-portrait. This photo was from a friend's wedding I attended in October of 2011. In the photo I was watching from behind in the crowd peering behind two bridesmaids. This pose is reminiscent of the purpose of the painting to give myself a look at who I am.

The twiggy stems represent the new growth of learning to set boundaries with others, after reading Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend, along with a lot of other adaptations to the change. But the sycamore leaves represent the inner strength to move forward and the promise of more strength to come. At my college by the administration building there is a huge sycamore tree that I have fallen in love with that first came to mind when I started this work. I love how the tree has patches of exposed bark and battle scars from years gone by, that give it such visual interest.

My life was so raw then. So much had changed, and was still changing rapidly. I think of the second verse from Sara Grove's Rewrite this Tragedy:
"Sometimes it's hard to tell what to keep and what to kill
What of this makes us who we are
All that we love the most, all that we cannot let go
How much of change can we survive?"
I needed a way to see myself. To know that there was some constant, something to hold onto. I was changing and everything around me was simultaneously. I want to end by asking if you have ever struggle seeing who you are, and how you have coped with it?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Flying Music

I have been so busy lately finishing up my semester. Last week I had my senior saxophone recital. It has been something that I have been looking forward to for a long time. I have been working so hard for it for so long now it seems strange that it is over now.

This painting I started the day of my recital as a way to keep myself focused and keep the nerves at bay. The bird in this painting is a yellow warbler, a song bird. I chose this bird to represent me a musician. Singing my heart out as it was created to do. I associated the word warbler with shaking which reminds me of nerves. I like this association because naturally I am a very anxious person. I have struggled with performance anxiety sense almost the moment I began playing the saxophone. This year has marked the beginning of me being able to manage my fear and rest it in Gods arms.

I chose the aspen leaves in the background because I have always loved the sound they make in the wind. As I painted I thought of the Holy Spirit is often manifested as wind in the Bible. I wanted to think of the Holy Spirit moving through me to show His grace as I played, and that He would provide me the strength, creating something beautiful for His glory.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Shame Covering

Shame Covering © 2012 2.5x3.5"
I can't seem to feel your touch,
as I close each opening door.
I can't seem to hear your voice,
as I choose to overhear.
I can't seem to find you,
As I run the other way. 

 This is a poem I wrote recently. As of recent I have been finding myself caught in the grasp of fear and self-condemnation. Soemtimes as I go to perform a peice the voice in my head echos "don't look like an idiot, or just don't embarris youself.." Then I get angry with myself and heap on more fuel to the fire of shaming myself. 

I painted this starling to represent this cycle in me. I have always found it perplexing that these dirty black birds are called starlings. Maybe someone can clue me into the reason...  When I condem myself I feel flithy and my mood becomes black. I kept the details on the bird very muted to represent the feeling of filth from my own negative self-talk. 

Now that I have had some time to process away from some of my busy routine. I have been thinking a lot about where I am looking for help and how I am viewing my behaviors when I find myself in this place. This is where the poem comes in. Sometimes after I find myself running in this direction I know I haven't asked Jesus for help, and I haven't sought prayer from those who love me. I am ashamed of my weakness, and forget they already know I am flawed. I run away as they did in the garden. I fear My Creator's response. I forget to be humble, lost in pride, and to see my brokeness. God sees me and knows my needs. He sent His Son to take my sins. He knows I am a star with His power and grace. If I only look to Him and ask for the mecy I so desperatly need. If I listen to His voice about who I am and not choose the voice of the world. 

Isaiah 58

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Living with a Whole Heart

Living with a Whole Heart © 7.5x11.5"
This is my newest piece! I actually just finished it this afternoon. This work was inspired by Brené Brown's book I Thought it Was Just Me (But it isn't)  and Sara Groves's Loving a Person - Add to the Beauty.

I read Brené Brown's book this summer. I have never leaned so much about how shame can shape us as women! What a tough topic to divulge into and side by side with vulnerability, not something I would normally be drawn to, but  when I had a mentor suggest a few books to me this summer this is the one I knew I needed to read more than anything. I know shame is something that my heart struggles with deeply from childhood scars to finding acceptance.

I love how Brené Brown speaks of Wholehearted living. This is the inspiration for the title. Choosing to be fully you, and fully honest about who you are. There is such a fragility about choosing to not simply please the people around you and try to meet all of the standards that are thrust upon us. I liked how the size of the hummingbird can represents this frailty.

The female North American Hummingbird is flying with her breast open and her inner wing exposed to the viewer. The pose in itself represents the vulnerability of sharing who we are. We are open not only to receive empathy and strength, but it can also open us to rejection and hurt. Causing us to make a courageous choice.

As I went to paint the hummingbird I did my some research on the bird as I usually do before painting, and I came across some facts that made her even more of a perfect choice! I learned that hummingbirds have a large heart in comparison to their body weight of 1.75-2.5% of their total weight. They actually have the largest heart to body ratio of all the animal kingdom. I also found that as a hummingbird is in flight their heart rate is about 1,260 beats per minute, compared to that while resting as about 250 beats per minute. I couldn't help to think about the shear effort flight takes these creatures, but how beautiful it is to watch them whiz around as if they are dancing with the wind.

I think about the effort it takes to love someone, to meet them where they are, and to seek them out when they push you away. The effort it takes to admit I am wrong, that I have made a mistake, and most of all to ask for forgiveness. I think of the effort it takes to be real, to love myself, and to grow. I think of the effort it takes to reach down to my pain to provide empathy and understanding to another, or to simply let someone else know they aren't alone in their struggle. That moment of labor is worth the flight, it is worth the refreshment of my soul, it is worth the joy that follows. The knowing of finding purpose in my existence to worship and connect.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Obstruction of Fear

Fear and Viewpoint 2.5x 3.5" ©
I don't know if you have ever felt as if you were not true to yourself, or presenting the real you because of fear. In the last few weeks I have been thinking a lot about how my fear changes the way I act.

It has been so frustrating for me. I want to show others who I am from what I see myself as, but my fear gets in the way. I get jumpy, and the nerves take control. I second guess what I say, laugh at things I normally wouldn't, and lastly become over animated with everything. I feel like this anxiety is like a wall from authenticity, a wall from my soul.

I painted this image of the tufted titmouse as an example of this struggle in me. I thought this bird was fitting after watching it in the yard, and reading about it out of my Birds of Iowa book. This little bird is almost never found with others of its kind outside of mating season. I watched it flitter here and there with a group of sparrows, tossing seed in the air. I think that it is interesting how these little birds never seem to be found in groups of their own. I thought about my fear and how I feel that it isolates and keeps me from being apart of a group, flying solo for the most part. Then I added the brick as a symbol of the fear that is present surrounding certain situations in my life. I have the choice in how I react to the wall, thus the bird having the view of the wall and away.

It helped me just to get the ideas out. I reflected more on a current situation and how I could find a way to calm my soul, reach out and trust, set a boundary for safety, and be confidently me. I settled on seeking grace to move forward in prayer, giving me the courage and the strength to go back and try again. I sat on the truth of being loved by my Creator and Savior no matter what human opinion and opposition I face. I resolved to keep what is so raw and fragile to Jesus and my truest allied friends, those who know my heart so well. I kept this little card with me as I went onward as a reminder when I needed some strength, or was tempted to run backwards. There it was bringing me back, grounding my heart once again.

"The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul."
Psalm 19:7
Another good one to check out is Isaiah 52:1

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Beauty of a Season

Fall 2012 ©
I went on a walk earlier this week and it was beautiful! This is a picture from my walk in the woods near my home. The weather was just a perfect seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit, with a light breeze blowing in the air.

Somehow I always forget how much I love fall and how beautiful it is. Off the top of my head if you asked me what my favorite season is, I would probably tell you spring with all of the new growth coming up and the anticipation of the warm summer days. It seems easy to welcome the change of spring with the melting snow.

Fall is a different story though than spring. Fall proceeds the cold, it proceeds the cloudy days to come. Fall is the death of summer and everything green. Soon comes slush and icy roads, and gray salt and sand. I often think of these things and forget its beauty, its vibrancy, and the story if has to tell.

I thought of the way God changes my heart. The place of beauty before the dark and lonesome winter to come. I thought of that moment when you feel the peace of knowing what Christ is calling you to. There is such joy and vibrancy in that moment of finally knowing which way to go, even though you know that the road will be hard before you. I think of the joy of the Israelites leaving Egypt and crossing the Red Sea. What must they have felt on the verge of the season in the desert?

I thought of the trees letting go of their leaves to move forward for winter and then new growth in spring. Fall the season of letting go to move forward to transform. I also love this song lately surrounding fall by The Blackthorn Project. Come Home To Me (Song For Laurie) | The Blackthorn Project

"Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise, for the Lord is coming to judge the earth."
1 Chronicles 16:35

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pictures of Egypt

The song by Sara Groves, Painting Pictures of Egypt has been in my head a lot.  I thought it was kind of starange sense I hadn't listened to it in quite a while. I just love the honesty of her songs though, so beautiful and makes it so easy to connect to them.
Sara Groves - Lyrics - Painting Pictures of Egypt

Makeovers © 2010
I have also been ready Isaiah 52 this week. It has been one of those times when you open a scripture and you can just feel that God is going to do something crazy with you through it but you just don't have any idea yet. I am so excited to find out what he is leading me to though! After reading it the first thing I thought about was this song after having it pop in my head at random (or not so randomly ;) ) frequently throughout last week. The parallels between the song and the scripture are undeniable to me. Both speak of leaving the captivity of Egypt. Along with captivity in general.

As I sat more with my thoughts I have been thinking about sanctification and how it applies to this. I think about slowly breaking free one chain at a time. It seems that once I feel free God like to point out a new place that I comfortably sit in my slavery afraid to move forward. "Look Carliann, why are you holding onto that chain? Can't you see it is hurting you?"

I tend to respond with how much I enjoy its company, the reasons I don't want to leave it, and proof of some past hurt of why I shouldn't let it go. I tend to make excuses like in Sara Groves work about how things were better before. I find myself saying "at least I had this or that before, at least I felt secure about, at least I knew, etc." I find it hard to make the decision to make the rough choice and move forward.

I think it is interesting as well that in Isaiah 52 ends with a prophesy of the crucifixion. I think of how thankful I am to Jesus providing the ultimate example of taking the narrow and hardest road towards freedom for us. The imagery is so vivid in verse 14;
But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.

If He faced so much suffering for my freedom, how much is it for me to face some suffering for moving toward the freedom He is calling me to?

I know there is still a ton I have to learn from this passage still, but I thought I would share it with you. I would love to hear from you about how you might struggle with similar things. I hope this was encouraging to you.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Another Little Step

 This is the finished Vulnerable © 2012
Wow it has been a bit of a doozey of a week! Things have been crazy at school with auditions for ensemble placements. But it is over now so I feel like I have some time to breath and share with you.

I finished this work early in the week Sunday night or Monday, I can't quiet remember. I am still working on taking photos of my art. So I know this isn't the best photo. It is hard to see the blues, pinks, silver, and gold paint in the wing. I will get there though, I promise. Just one step at a time.

I was inspired by Flying Lessons ecourse to do this work. the community of women is so encouraging and inspiring! I started out by making a promise to myself that I would be faithful to paint a little bit every week. As I spent time painting last week I really did feel a marked change. I just seemed to have more joy and energy to do my everyday tasks.  The main inspiration though is how in my art I feel like my heart is exposed. I need to release my emotions and thoughts in a tangible way even if I don't have the words in the moment. Starting this blog and sharing the meanings behind my art and my poetry is quiet a vulnerable place for me to be. I am putting my heart out and open to the world. I often don't share them with really anyone so this blog is such a massive step out into the open!

So here goes! This painting is me opening my wings to fly. Revealing the inside of my wing and sharing what feels uncomfortable so I can rise to new heights. I am dyslexic as well so writing publicly has always been a scary thing. I am thankful for the compassion here though as I start this journey. Thanks for joining me!

"Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, 
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore, I have set my face like a stone,
determined to do his will.
And I know that I will not be put to shame."
Isaiah 50:7

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Martha's Vineyard 2010
The army of the Lord stands in
worship to their Creator.
The army of the Lord stands in
The army of the Lord stands not in
their own power, not in their own strength.
The army of the Lord calls out
to their Savior for rescue.
Catching the grace they need
to do the battle.
Catching the peace they need
to see the hope.

I wrote this poem a few weeks ago during worship at church.  Sometimes it is hard for me to know that the body of Christ is an essential and meaningful part of growing and knowing Jesus more. I know that it is easy for me to get caught up in the imperfections and the ways we hurt each other and just want to retreat from it all. that day in worship God really placed this image before me as I sat and everyone else was standing around me. In that moment I was so weak and fragile, feeling the hurt and the lies of the past, alongside the hurt from the world around me. In that moment I felt as though my eyes were momentarily opened to how the body of Christ is meant to function. I felt as though I saw others standing up and moving forward for those who needed rest. Bringing those who were wounded up to safety. Reaching out to Jesus for help and rejuvenation to continue forward.

I so often get caught up in all that is going on in the moment that I cannot see Jesus calling me towards Him. I get caught in fear and anger trying to protect myself, and make sense of it on my own. I think this photo captures a bit of the fog rolling away to see Jesus providing in that moment as well. As is push through to healing and the safety God has provided I try to remember this and look back when I am scared out of my mind to let someone in. Or when I move forward to even do simple things against the norm what I feel called to do; kneel or sit when everyone is standing, not hold back the tears, work in my art journal in stead of taking sermon notes, etc. It is so easy for me to get caught back into conformity and not move forward into the uncomfortabilty of freedom!

Romans 12:4-5

Friday, September 21, 2012


Today I thought I would share with you why I paint mainly birds.To me birds are a symbol of freedom and joy. After being in a suppressive church for two years I have known the stifling cage of conformity and loneliness. God has given me a newfound understanding of what true freedom is. In my works I try to portray the vibrancy of seeking his freedom, and the beauty of His creation. With this I generally do not paint eyes on the birds because I think of that as the place you can see the breath of life in something. I want to leave that for the Almighty, and this is a way that I like to show my humanity.

© 2012
The work to the right is one of my favorite works and I don't think that I could ever sell the original. It is just too close to my heart. I started painting this when I was in the process of leaving the church. I was in such turmoil over leaving, knowing that I would lose all of my closest friends if I chose to leave. I was fighting hard against what I felt God calling me to. I began by paining the blues and yellows rubbing hard against the canvas. As I rubbed some of the paint rubbed off creating a beautiful landscape.  Next I painted the red which symbolizes the pain and tears of that time. After this I waited several months before I felt God calling me back to this work and what He wanted me to paint. Then it came once I found some peace in where he was calling me. I painted the dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit and His presence with me through it all, and the same hope that was given to Noah all those years after the storm. I know it might be hard to see in this photo but I used gold paint around the dove that is over top of the red paint showing its power over the storm.

" I will say to the prisioners, 'Come out in freedom,' and to those in darkness, 'Come into the light.' they will be sheep, grazing in green pastures and on hills that were previously bare."
Isaiah 49:9 NLT

I would love it if you would be willing to share how God has called you into living in freedom and something that you keep to remind you of that freedom.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A bit about Me & the Blog

I realized yesterday that I did not share my purpose for starting this blog or really anything about myself. So here goes....

First off I should tell you a bit about myself. I am a senior music education major in my last semester before student teaching. I live at home and commute to school for the most part living with my parents and two fluffy puppies, whom I love. Most importantly I love Jesus. I paint and write poetry to release who I am and how I feel/see the world. and myself. By no means am I perfect and I struggle a lot to be the woman I want to be. I am a recovering from church hurts, and searching for grace and truth about what it means to live in the Body of Christ and be an individual. I want to live my life running after Him no matter what others say. My goal is to follow Him and no one else. (Again not perfect at this, I tend to learn things the hard way!) I think that is me in a nutshell.

This is a piece I am currently working on titled Vulnerable © 2012
So why did I start this blog? I started this blog to share my heart and struggles with others in a meaningful and impactful way that show my REAL life in love with Jesus. I want to share with others that living for Christ is a messy thing and maybe help others and myself know that we aren't alone in this. I titled my blog Carliann Reviewed because I see this as a place to take some time and review what life has placed before me. You can expect to find paintings, poetry, and questions here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Beginning

Hello Everyone,
American Goldfinch © 2012
This feels crazy starting this blog. I am struggling to know what to write here. My inspiration for starting this blog comes from taking a ecourse from Kelly Rea Roberts called flying lessons. I am excited about taking this course and it has been providing me with some of the courage and instruction on how to live my artistic dreams!
I am excited to see where this class will take me along with this blogg. I have so many things going on right now in my life it seems somewhat crazy to start this blogg, taking an extra course, and finishing up my last semester before student teaching! I think though if I didn't do it all now I would just keep putting it off. Besides it is the last time the course is offered.
 I have also been finding that this semester at school I struggle finding joy and grace without making time to worship through art. It seems that Jesus has instilled a new desire in me over the summer to be a co-creator with Him. Such a desire that to keep from it leaves me running dry and the world feeling grey.
Well I think that is it for now. Off and running!