Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Painting Live During Easter Services

This weekend I tried something entirely new for me. I painted live during Easter services at First Unitarian Church of Dallas. For the past few weeks our ministers have been delivering sermons that focus on creativity. Our need to process life's experiences - the joy and the pain, the abundance and the lack - by transforming it into something expansive and filled with beauty and meaning, is what makes us human. So First UU decided to put an artist on the chancel for Easter to bring that message home. It was a thrilling experiment. 

My paintings were made in tandem with gorgeous hymns from our Sanctuary Choir and also some poetry readings, one of which I've included below. I painted a 48 x 48 inch piece for each of the two services during the hymns. While it's difficult to "finish" a huge piece of art in 30-40 minutes, I enjoyed the freedom of knowing that it was, by nature, an impulse-driven exercise, more concerned with process than product. Many of those in attendance filled my inbox and Facebook feed with kind messages about the service. I'm so grateful to First UU for asking me to the party. It was an Easter I won't soon forget.

Easter Exultet 
By James Broughton 

Shake out your qualms. 
Shake up your dreams. 
Deepen your roots.  
Extend your branches. 
Trust deep water 
and head for the open, 
even if your vision 
shipwrecks you. 
Quit your addiction 
to sneer and complain. 
Open a lookout. 
Dance on a brink. 
Run with your wildfire.  
You are closer to glory 
leaping an abyss 
than upholstering a rut. 
Not dawdling. 
Not doubting. 
Intrepid all the way, 
Walk toward clarity. 
At every crossroad 
Be prepared to bump into wonder. 
Only love prevails. 
En route to disaster 
insist on canticles. 
Lift your ineffable 
out of the mundane. 
Nothing perishes; 
nothing survives; 
everything transforms! 
Honeymoon with Big Joy!

Here are the pieces I created during the first and second services:

Here All Along, 48 x 48 inch acrylic on canvas

Trust Deep Water, 48 x 48 inch acrylic on canvas

Feedback from Congregants

I can't begin to tell you how privileged we felt this morning watching Sarah paint during Easter service. I admire her courage, generosity, inspiration, and talent. What a beautiful complement to Daniel's sermon. ~ Janine Fields

Watching Sarah work today was the greatest gift. We don't make it every Sunday but when we do it's always very worth the trip and the crazy... On this Easter Sunday...I am being gifted the privilege of watching Sarah Greenman create and that renews and lifts my soul in a way I didn't expect today. ~ Barrett Nash

Sunday morning was an artistic wonder - painting, music, and a sermon that was poetry. Life does not get much better than that - nor does an expression of spirit that reaches depth and wonder. ~ Charles Vorkoper

We were treated to the beauty of live painting during the service from Sarah Greenman today and a wonderful sermon about becoming awakened and "woke" and how that can change lives and the world for good. ~ Shelby Eidson

ARTWORK as a part of Easter! I can't find the words to express how much I LOVE this, so I'll just explain what it is: Sarah Greenman is painting a new piece in each of the two services this morning - painting during the musical portions of the services - whatever inspires her, and improvising. All of this is an incredible example of the creativity, openness, and joy within First Unitarian Church of Dallas and the people who are here. Huge bonus: The rich, powerful, gorgeous singing of Jonathan Greer in the solo portions of "Easter," from "Mystical Songs" by Vaughan Williams. His voice and Sarah's art are both such a treat for the ears and eyes and heart. ~ Dana Lynne White

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