Kara Gentry - previous guest artist at The Stirring

Kara was interviewed by the Shelby Sun Times a while back when we featured her in the gallery.

I love her use of texture in her paintings and her moving story about how she was inspired to pick up her brush and start painting after 10 years of letting her gift go dormant. I really enjoyed watching her paint live at The Stirring. Her process was very interesting.



A springtime sermon idea


"Beauty from Ugliness. As we sometimes (so often?) fall under the crushing weight of temptation, who could imagine that something so beautiful could arise from something so ugly? With God all things are possible."

there's a sermon and take home right in there. a couple of big bags of bulbs cant be too much. We hand them out to folks as they leave. walk out video... find one of those stop action films of stuff growing. bingo.

Like the idea? Take it. What songs would you put with it?


Alex Radin paints at his church but not mine

Here's another talented artist that refuses to paint live at
The Stirring. But then I should give him a break. He would have to drive about 11 hours to visit my church. He's got a statement about worshiping through the act of painting on his site that you should read. Inspiring work too.



Why can't you live closer, Brice?

I like Brice McCasland. He's a talented guy. He's a nice guy. I just don't like that he lives about 7-8 hours away. So I can't get him to come to paint at my church, and I've never spoken to him in person.

Would he drive all this way for an art show? Maybe..Check out his site.




Previous Stirring Art Shows

Nice little story about a Stirring artist. Follow the link for the full article.

Local Memphis artist Chris Reed who was very inspired by his recent mission trip with Hope Church to Quito, Ecuador, and the art he saw there.



More mailboxes from Eurydice

This is a continued post from Nov 17. I've doodled some more "on high" mailboxes for my concept of a stage design and paintings for a sermon series on prayer. I'm going to see the play again. It's that good.

I'll give this letter to a worm. I hope he finds you. Love, Eurydice – from Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl

I like how they look as like mailboxes you might find in a Dr Seuss book. I loved those books as a kid.

Another rough sketch for a live painting


Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Ephesians 2:21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.

The concept is a combination of the two verses. The figures are rising out of or bursting through the structure of the church. It's to illustrate that the people and community of believes are the church and are greater than the mere building. The shadow cast by the group reenforces the church symbol.


Concept for a Live Painting at Church

Nail scarred hand

Luke 24:36-39 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."

John 20:27 Then Jesus said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

We regularly do live paintings at The Stirring were I go to church. Here's an idea I had for Easter. Then near the end of the message, I would complete the painting and moved it and the easel to the edge of the stage so that people could easily reach it. Next I would place my finger in some red paint and put a red thumbprint in the center of the hand. Then the pastor would encourage people to come forward and do the same. They would also get a wet wipe to clean their finger. By the end, there would be a large red spot made of all the individual prints. Sort of a symbolic a placing your sins in God's hands and then being wiped clean.


Wash Me - first try

Here are the photos of the process of creating "Wash Me". I'll have to post the pic of it covered in mud later. It didnt work exactly as I had hoped. the paint needed more time to dry and cure. also, I should have used a varnish as well, but I was very limited on time. In fact, parts were still wet when I brought it to The Stirring.

The mud washed off faster than I expected. Since the paint wasn't cured and sealed, some of it tried to wash off too. I had to trash the piece in the end, but it was a learning experience and folks seemed to enjoy it. It will be better next time.

Grace Like Rain - Wash Me - Live painting concept

reverse graffiti. art made by cleaning dirty city walls...hmm that's cool. I also really liked this church's
CLEAN event.

How could i use that? why not do a painting in white on a black background. Seal it up so the white stays white. Then use charcoal, dirt, etc to cover up the entire piece. So at the start of the service, its just this dull black piece. Instead of painting, I'll use sponges and cloths to wash the surface to slowly reveal the white under painting.

Theme of the painting is from the song "grace like rain"
Grace like rain,
falls down on me
all my stains are washed away

Title of painting "Wash Me"

Then we should play "Grace like Rain" and to sing it so that it is last song before the sermon. By the end of the song, the painting would be washed clean to reveal the art underneath. I like the idea and symbolic image of finding beauty underneath an ugly mess. It may take a couple of tries to get the piece to work as I envision it.


Creative churches, Live art and event ideas

I wish I had thought of this. In fact, I may borrow it. Here's some quotes from their blog:

Seeing is Believing – people attended from a wide variety of backgrounds to look at images of God in nature, in ourselves and through Jesus. What seemed to have struck most people was how many different ways there are to look at God and how rich an experience it can be to expose yourself to that variety.


Live Painting at The Stirring from March 2008

Maundy Thursday Cross

Maundy Thursday is always a challenging service at The Stirring. This year the theme was “journey” with the title of the sermon being Passage. I wasn’t even suppose to be a part of the service till I received a call that afternoon. The leadership had developed this idea about a having an artist create a cross painting that the audience could journey to and touch while still wet.

Great idea, but sure put me on the spot. I didn’t have a large canvas or enough paint not to mention I didn’t know what to paint. To add to the difficulty, it was important for it to be finished at a key moment. Also, I had to cover a 30” x 40” canvas in a short period of time. To help hide the painting, I used an easel that can lay the canvas horizontal and vertical. This way i could reveal the painting to the audience at the right moment. Then near the end of the message, I flipped the painting up and moved it to the edge of the stage so that people could easily reach it.

Then the pastor encouraged people to come forward and touch the still wet paint of the cross to symbolize their personal spiritual journey to the cross and the mark that the cross have left on their lives. It was really cool to be a part of that experience. It was a very spiritual experience for me and one of my favorite Stirring services. I don't recall the exact number of people in attendance. I think it was in the 500 to 700 range.

PR Coverage:

Full color photograph of this painting was printed in the Memphis Flyer ongoing art section in with a listing of my art exhibit at Java Cabana in May 2008.

Concept inspired by the play Eurydice

I went to the University of Memphis this past week to see their production of Eurydice. It was so amazing. The music, the acting, the sound, the lighting, the set, the props... everything. I must have a half dozen ideas for paintings inspired by the play. 

First of all, I want to steal their mailboxes. In part of the play, the dead characters in the Underworld try to send letters to characters still alive in upper world. To help illustrate the difficulty, the stage has about a dozen mailboxes on long slightly curved poles. Like 15-20 feet high. the whole concept of how do you send a letter to above and how can you receive one from below is very spiritual to me. 

I loved the visual. It's like mailboxes for on high or a metaphor for prayer. I want to do a couple of paintings based on them. I also want one actual mailbox on a high pole for a set piece for The Stirring. We could do a sermon series on prayer; Enough postage: how do i get my prayer to God, Return address: will my prayer get returned unanswered, Tracking Number: when will i get an answer... etc. you get the idea (i'll let the guy doing the sermon worry about that).


Do you ever use your art to talk to others about your relationship with Jesus?

Do you ever use your art to talk to others about your relationship with Jesus? Here are some of the answers I received from artists who have painted at The Stirring.

Alberto: Not really. A conversation about a certain piece may lead to me sharing my personal testimony. But to be honest... I try to use my art as a way to encourage others to share their spiritual blessings and hardships.

Brooke: Yes. Since my main focus is Cross art and I love to explain my special relationship I have, my triumphs and valleys, etc.

Julie: Yes, I talk about how my artwork is a God thing and that I prayed about what I am painting and how he led me to paint churches to look like stained glass on metal

Jennifer: Only when someone asks about a specific painting, I will go into how it was created through worship.

Mike: The art I have produced for the past several years has been a reflection of my relationship with Jesus. I send my work to a number of ‘unbelievers’ occasionally and sometimes a conversation ensues.

Kevin: No, not specifically but I have replied to questions about where I learned how to draw or paint...and I simply respond that God gave it to me.


Live Painting at church - March 2007

Filled with the Spirit by Richard Fudge

Painted at Life Church at Schilling Farms
on Sunday Morning, March 11, 2007.
Sermon title: Live the Life – Living with Value

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13

I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in. – Revelation 3:20

But if I say, “I will not mention Him or speak any more in His name,” His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. – Jeremiah 20:9

Inspiring videos for artists

LinkI don't know much about Fellowship Bible Church near Nashville, Tn., but I know that they make some amazing videos. Those who are easily moved to tears should not watch all of these at once. The videos Conversations with God, Painting Through the Storm, Unforeseen Harvest, and Journey to Freedom are all arts focused and include interviews with the artists.

Definitely check out the Unforeseen Harvest

I've got to check this church out some day.


Art and Worship

The scripture encourages us to make a “joyful noise.” I believe that artistic expression is another way to worship the Lord; paint a “joyful stoke” or make a “joyful splat.” I began to see art in this way after visiting the Stirring. Back in 2003, I meet a nice girl and asked her out. She was involved at the Stirring as one of the lead singers in the worship band. She invited me to come and hear her at the Stirring. I had not been going to church for some time. I had moved to Memphis in 1995 from Fort Smith, Arkansas (where I grew up), and never really connected to a church here. I attended off and on, but nothing stuck. I never felt at home, but then I went to a Stirring service. I was just floored. It was unlike any service I had ever been to. Concert lighting, loud music, candles, and ART!?!

I really felt as if I had come home. Never before had I been in a church that had made art so welcome and a part of the worship experience. Being an artist myself, I felt welcomed. I continued to attend the Stirring and it didn’t take long for me to volunteer as a guest artist. It was a very unique experience. The idea of painting on stage in front of about 200 people is intimidating to say the least. I kept imagining all those eyes looking over my shoulder while I work on a piece. It was scary especially since I don’t really my works in galleries and such. But I wanted to get involved. I found that once I got started on my painting, the audience just faded away. It was just me and the painting with the band playing in the background. I loved it. So this is worship! Sure there are sometimes when I get nervous up there. But usually I tap my foot and paint away.

After attending the Stirring for about a year, I joined Hope (the Stirring is apart of the Hope). Soon after, the artist coordinator Terri came to me. She was going to be moving about an hours drive away. It was going to be a hardship for her to continue to be the artist coordinator, and she asked me to talk the position. I said sure. I tended to always be there. The senior artist and gallery manager at the Stirring is a volunteer position. I would argue that it really could be a full time position to really do all that could be done in this ministry. Finding artist to paint at the service, connecting with other artists, reviewing and hanging art in the “gallery”, promoting openings, etc. My day job is Senior Artist (aka graphic designer) at a local health care organization's corporate communications dept. I am also apart of The Stirring’s Leadership Team (sort of a small group of all the volunteer coordinators and long time volunteers). We meet once a month to hear from our pastor about the up-coming sermons, events, etc. And you know, things that need improving, prayer requests from the team, praise, guidance, etc.

So that’s my story of how I ended up painting in church and worshiping through art. What’s your story?

Explain how you feel when you worship God through art

Here are some of the answers I received from artists who have painted at The Stirring. (# at The Stirring) is the number of times that artist has painted for one month during The Stirring service.

Alberto: Painting let's me express my relationship with God and my spiritual struggles. I get a chance to express my feelings, my inner most secrets, the things i would keep to myself and not share with the world. I see painting more then just worship...it's my way of praying to God. (5 times at The Stirring)

Brooke: I love love it!! I feel its the time when I can connect with my "talent" and worship through my paintbrush and mouth as I sing the praise music. It is a very humbling time for me to be stage centered, on God's time, and surrounded by only encouragement. I think we heal through music and art, or at least I do, and this experience has let me do that. No better testimony to me than to show you my struggles but also how God has picked me up, dusted off me feet, and said take your pearls and follow me Brooke! I am very thankful for the opportunity The Stirring has given me to show "my pearls" per say! (1 time at The Stirring)

Cara: Painting with God really gives me clarity. I stop thinking about all my worries and just focus. (3 times at The Stirring)

Jennifer: I feel more peaceful when I am using artwork to worship God. It gives me more focus to make it a part of worship rather than excluding God from it. When I exclude God from my art, I am less driven, and get more frustrated more easily. (2 times at The Stirring)

Julie: I feel like I am a servant to God's kingdom and that the experience can be shared with others. I let God work through me. (2 times at The Stirring)

Kathy: When I'm painting and "in the zone" as you said, I feel at one with the universe. I feel totally obedient and fine-tuned to what God wants me to do. I feel like the act of painting and creating something on a canvas completes me as a person. When I come back the next morning and look at what I've done, I'm not always as thrilled with the final product, but the creation process is a wonderful sort of one-on-one feeling with God, and I think with His help, I can keep improving.

Kevin: Mostly I feel simply blessed that He gave me the gift and talent. Many times I feel like my art is not worthy enough, too. (3+ times at The Stirring)

Mike: It is extremely satisfying to me when the invisible (my imagination) becomes visible (my art). Usually, however, there is a frustrating discrepancy between my imagination and my reality. Reconciling this discrepancy illustrates the grace of God, in that He ‘sees’ me as a finished work. (many times at The Stirring)

Please add your own answer by leaving a comment.


An Amazing Night for Art at The Stirring

This past weekend at The Stirring was incredible. It has given me a burst of passion for live painting at church. It’s something we do every Sunday at The Stirring, but I realized I haven’t made any posts about using art as an important part of the worship service.

The service was very spiritually charged and emotionally engaging. Along with the art being created on the stage, the worship music, and Michael's awesome message, we had an incredible artist panel. We had a panel of three artists who have volunteered to paint at the Stirring numerous times. Michael asked Chris, Gail, and Cara Ann these questions: 1, Explain for us your experience of worshiping God through art. 2, Do you use your art as a way to talk to other people about your relationship with Jesus? 3, If you to ever be in a room filled with Christians and spiritually searching people, what is one thing you would say to them about art? Their discussion was inspiring and one of the most tangible ways to explain to people how worship and art go hand in hand.

Everyone at the Stirring really gave it their all and helped make this weekend a masterpiece. I feel like I just finished senior thesis again and that this weekend was the final exam and presentation. For the question, that we are sometimes asked, "What is the Stirring? What is the mission or purpose?" Last Sunday is my reply.

I don't know if you made it but if you couldn't be there, I thought you might be interested in these links. Our special guest artist was Deeann Carson, a recent grad from MCA. She's written about the event on her blog and has some great shots of our gallery and her painting on stage that night. (BTW she sold 16 paintings that weekend).



Deeann Carson painting live at The Stirring

Deeann Carson was our special guest artist at The Stirring on Sunday Nov. 9th. The finished piece is incredible and you can view it on her blog. It is on display with the rest of her show at The Stirring Gallery at Hope Church through mid Dec.