Tuesday, July 15, 2014
“A portrait affirms; it gives the gift of self to its subject. It says, 'Yes, you are worth spending this time over, your story deserves to be told, you should be recorded for you will not pass this way again.’” — David Goatley
I married a portrait artist. When we were dating in college, I used to go her painting classes at night just to have coffee with her during her break. She has been painting portraits since before we were married over 49 years ago. As a teacher, she would do pen and ink portraits of each and every one of her students and then color them with a water-color wash. She has probably done over a thousand portraits in her life-time, and she hasn’t stopped. In every class she ever taught, she would pick a student to be “student of the week” and always managed to include every student in the class by year’s end. One of the perks of being “student of the week” was that Karen would do that student’s portrait and then hang it on the classroom wall for the rest of the year. At the end of the year the portraits went home with the children. Sometimes the portraits were hung in school’s hall or cafeteria. Every single portrait did as the quote above avers—it tells the student that he or she has both worth and a future. We have a portrait she did of her father (who died in 1980 of lung cancer) in our living room, and she captured just who he was. When she retired from teaching, a whole lot of her former students brought their portraits back and had an art exhibit at the Jones Center in Springdale, Arkansas. Over a hundred and fifty student portraits were on display. When one has the talent that she does, it simply cannot be contained or put aside. She has done portraits of the children here and is working on a large (about six-feet high) portrait of one of our orphans on the wall of our new kitchen. When she was back in the U.S. in May of this year, she did portraits of her three grandchildren which is the picture at the right. She has never seen just the surface of the faces of the children she has taught and still adores. She sees the promise and hope of every child. Oh, that we could all see as she does. She has done portraits of the children of missionaries here, and now has portraits of hers hanging in homes all around the world. She sees more colors than Crayola has crayons in every face—and loves them. Christ calls us to see what He sees, His children in whatever form they take. My prayer for you is that you can begin to see in the faces of the people you meet and those you love what Karen sees. Not what a person appears to be, but what is inside that makes every single one beautiful.