Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Message, 2014.

For some, Christmas can be a melancholy time. We may feel a sense of sadness. It can come from many different reasons in our lives. We may feel loss or loneliness. We may feel that there is so much build up, preparation, and expectation - that in the end, as it is all over so quickly, we find an aching emptiness inside of us. As much as I have always enjoyed Christmas, I must admit I have often struggled with those feelings of despondency. I lost my mom this past October, so this Christmas this will be felt in a very real way.
As I reflect on this, however, it is the very message of Christmas that gives hope. I am not referring to tinsel and greeting card sentimentality - which can seem oddly desperate to create meaning with superficiality. Instead, we see that in all the sufferings of humanity, God saw our condition and took great steps to express His love. He saw each of us in our sin, our brokenness, and sent His very own Son as the greatest love gift ever known. To fathom the sublime truth of Immanuel, “God with us”, how beautiful is this love. Here we see God brought near to us, in the flesh, to the least and poor among us. This is the hope of life in the midst of every pain.
Though in my life I miss my mom greatly, though my heart cries out against the finality of mortality, I am so grateful that God gave me such a wonderful mother. It is because He gave me such a great mom that I feel those feelings of loss. Her hope was in the Lord, I know one day I will see her again.
I find, that in life’s joyful experiences - whether Christmas or some other event - afterwards I feel a let down inside. It can feel quite heavy and seem totally contrary to what I should feel at such a time. The heart and mind yearns, even strives, to squeeze out every ounce of enjoyment one can, then comes back to what seems a mundane reality afterwards. There is one thing I have learned about this depressed reaction. We can not have our heaven now. We are clothed in mortality now; we live in a world where we feel daily the limitations of struggle. No experience of man can equal a sense of true rapture. A broken world can not bring us serenity and completeness. We wait for the consumption of our joy. It is only the One who created us who can bring these things. When we look to Him and the gift of His Son, then we are released from all the strivings and trappings of life, to see the joy in whom we have our trust. We can have that joy now only in Him. When we do, the heart is free indeed. Both now and ultimately in the satisfaction of glorious blessedness when we seem Him face to face.

May God bless you this Christmas,
Jeffrey M Green

About his year's art piece:
© Jeffrey M Green. "Mom's Cookies", 11x14", colored pencils.

This work this year features a plate of my mom's cookies. Though I had been thinking about this years theme before she went into the hospital, I got what was left over from last year out of her freezer while she was in there. She past away before I created it. I did not even know if I wanted to do a Christmas work this year, I had no heart at first for it. I finally decided to do it in order to capture the cookies she baked, as they will never be baked again.
She is known in our family, and among friends, for making huge batches of wonderful cookies for Christmas. Our family grew up on them - to me they are like going back through the years since a child in tasting them. They were truly delicious and look like they came out of a magazine. Perhaps it is fitting I could only capture what is fleetingly left from what she once did. Though this is sad, I am glad to honor her in any way I can, and am grateful God gave me such a wonderful mom in my life.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Trust Can Seem Dangerous

At times we can go though trials for a long season. If we are accustomed to trusting God, for a while we trust, until He calls us to places we have not known before. We can then find ourselves faltering as we are buffeted emotionally and spiritually from events in our life. If we falter for an extended period, discouragement finds fertile ground. Our minds begin to change. We lose hope, sink into depression, and wonder why suddenly now all is dark around us. We stood so sure before, now we long only for there to be an end to our trials. Self doubt can also creep into our hearts. Why don’t I ever change, why do I seem to always act the same when I am challenged? 

There is an ongoing process in the lives of those who trust Christ. It concerns the human desire to control our own lives in our own abilities. God does not want self-made people, or those who pull their bootstraps up by themselves. Nor does He want us to hold onto our problems in worry, stress, and anxiety. This is a kind of control we keep in our own hands. God seeks for us to let go of all this and trust Him alone. That is what He is calling us to in each trial, in progressively deeper levels.

When Moses was discouraged over an insurmountable problem, God’s response to Him was “Has the LORD”S arm been shortened?” In Romans chapter four we read: “God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” There is tremendous power in these statements. In Christ we serve an awesome God. He does not change. It is we who do. On our own, we are ever prone to stumble.

Our Father calls us to take His strong, steadfast hand as we walk through the dark valleys. Like Peter, we see all the waves and fierce winds, begin to sink, and cry, “Lord, save me!” His hand is there, He will not let go. This can be counted on above all that life can throw at us.

Trust seems “dangerous” to our self will, our self control. It calls us to relinquish all, to submit to Christ. We are so used to trusting our own striving, we feel exposed and vulnerable like Peter on the water. Our human nature only wants trials to go away, even if we know that God uses it to teach us to cling to Him. We just want to be free of it. 

Our lives will be on exceeding shaky ground if we rely on ourselves. However, in Christ we have a sure trust, a firm security in the One who loves us so. The power is in Who we serve, the strength is in the God who tenderly cares for us. Our faith is not an abstract faith. Faith is only as good as who or what you put it in. Our loving Father is faithful, trustworthy, and will never forsake us. There are not many things we can put your trust in with life, but with God, He is ever true - even when all else crashes around us. When we let go and trust, we are in the hands that are sure, safe, and have our good ever in mind. This is a joy unsurpassed by anything under the sun.

“Because I live, you will live also,” Jesus, John 14:19b.

Artwork: © Jeffrey M Green. "Froth", 11" x 14", pastels.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Fine Art Realism

I read an article today about realism. Its main point was that realism is a communicated expressive language, a language that can be understood. That this is what the essence of art is, which this genre uniquely conveys. While this is true, there is so much more to realism.
Art has long been classically considered a noble endeavor. When I think of art, I think of the higher aesthetic things. The uplifting inspiring creativity of beautiful expression. Both the art portrayed, as well as the creative talent of the artists uplift the mind and heart.
Many art circles denigrate realism for its “unoriginality”. Life is so full of beauty and wonder, given to us by our Creator, that to highlight this is to me the high part of art. It expresses the deep parts of the creative heart, a gift given by our Creator. Realism really brings this to the fore. Realism is not pretentious, does not distort, nor does it need a lengthy complicated statement about what it is supposed to represent. As such, it is for the everyday person. To me, that is what art is all about. To bless everyone, we all love art. It is one of the many natural gifts God has placed upon this world to enjoy. The heart cries out in a kind of joy with fine art.
There has been a study that found that people in hospitals who viewed realistic art found a sense of calm. In contrast, abstract art brought the opposite feeling, bringing a sense of stress and agitation, which is what one quite understandably feels when being hospitalized. This says a great deal to me about what art can do. It always makes me smile when viewers find my art peaceful. We need this today. It is true that art does not always highlight the pleasing parts of life. Yet here realism brings a kind of sensitivity and expressiveness that can often not be found in any other way.
Because art is recognizable does not make it somehow lacking. In fact, one could say from the other side, that art which needs lengthy explanations to prop up its relevance does not reach the the average person who loves art. There is plenty of room for all kinds of art expression. As an artist, those I want to reach are those who simply love art and creativity.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

From a Shut-in to Renewal, One Artists Life

This self portrait is quite a relevant work for this writing, as it was done during a time of change, confusion, the loss and results of wrong choices in my life – with just the faintness hope to hope for something better, as expressed by the intense mood. 
It was not very long ago, that as an adult man, I was a shut in. This sounds like an extreme statement and is hard for many to understand. My life was spent with many years indeed - in fact most of my adult life, as well as when I was young - in debilitating social anxiety, anxiety attacks, severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and very dark depression. I passed my days hiding from the world quite literally, consumed in my emotional problems. I lived in terror of others, in terror of social situations of any kind. I stayed in a room by myself for so very many years. I spent years on medications, with some doctors just throwing up their hands not knowing what to do with me. I was in such deep suffering that there were periods that I prayed every day for the Lord to take me home. Not only do I not exaggerate the depths lived in, it merely touches the surface.
I am not alone is this kind of experience in life. There are many who suffer from these kinds of deep pain. You may never know they do, they may hold it all inside and live that part of their lives secretly out of shame. For others you may never see or know them, as they live alone, withdrawn into their own pain. For those who are close to them, or try to be – family, friends – it is all too apparent the things that are overwhelming them. Families are greatly affected. We wonder what we can do for those suffering this way and feel they are often beyond our reach or help. Others refuse to understand and just want them to snap out of it. For family members or spouses, living with someone with these issues can be a trial for them, they may feel hurt too.
There are no easy answers. Often these issues and trials last a very long time, perhaps a lifetime. For me it was most of my life. Rock bottom was an extreme place I lived permanently, a very dark place, not a single event in my life. That is why at the present time, being healed and living a life that is totally new to me is such a joy in the simplest of everyday things.
During the course of my troubled life, art was always a mainstay. Over the years I learned, honed my skill, and grew in my art abilities. Perhaps all that time alone served to somehow allow me to grow as an artist in my work, a touch of grace in the darkness. Yet, even this was not untouched, for my art became an obsessive and perfectionist endeavor that caused major anxiety attacks. Like other things, good became twisted in my unhealthy mind.
For me, healing had everything to do with two words – “But, God….” In the Bible the words “But, God” often follow very stark contrasts of suffering or weaknesses in us. I am no longer a shut in. I am part of the world, married to a wonderful wife, with doors gradually opening up for my art. I do still struggle at times to greater or lesser degrees, but with a freedom of growing and true healing that only a God rich in love and Grace could give me. Where once OCD had me out of any productive functioning at all, in a shut away world few knew, where once the smallest social encounter plunged me into terrible fear, I am now able to take part in life. I have a way to go, but I can see the clear change in healing.
It is hard to say at what point it was that God really grabbed hold of me and brought me out of this pain. You see, I had already been a Christian during most of this – I was saved around age 19 or 20 (I am now 50). One difficult part, quite frankly, is that God had to let me come utterly to and end of myself. I mean an utter end, completely. My only way to relate to Him, or the world, was so broken, unhealthy, and mentally ill. In fact, though I have never shared this publicly, my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder caused a nervous breakdown with my faith due to the severity of the OCD. My OCD here was so extreme it went into the realms of mental illness. Most do not even know, even those close to me. This was a dark period in my life. It was one of the things I never thought would be healed, but nothing is out of God's care.
Later, God had to reshape and completely reform my thinking, my emotions, my deepest innermost places - which was deeply ingrained and terribly strong in its unhealthiness and emotional trauma. Naturally this did not happen overnight.
There was one time that was also significant before this. It was a Christmas Eve service about 5 or 6 years ago, at what would, a couple years later, become the church my wife and I go to. Before we went inside, I had the distinct sense – it was quiet, yet insistent and urgent, while gentle – of God impressing upon me, “I want you to go in there and do nothing. Do not obsess, do not repetitively pray in fear and guilt ridden obsessing, do not get wrapped up in all the OCD trauma – just receive my Son.” The last part was the urgent part, just recieve my Son. I had received Christ already, as I shared - this was an urgent call to my life of healing. It was beautiful in His love and Grace. It is that free gift revealed more brightly to me, one that does not end as a single event as we walk with Him - this continual receiving of His Son that now defines my life. Freely receive, it is called grace. My life has been blessed ever as a daily act of receiving such wonderful blessings, all from His tender Grace. Soon I was finely free to begin receiving God’s wonderful love, without my mental health destroying everything.  
I can look back now and see such transformation to have come to me. To look back, after all I have been through, what a sweet joy this is to my heart. Without God’s grace, both my own brokenness and my own sinful choices would have defeated me entirely.
All my life I thought I would never get better. Indeed, that concept did not even exist to me. If God could heal me of the deepest painful roots inside and bring me to a renewed life – even with the severity of my inner problems - I see now that He can do anything in my life. As I read the Bible, I clearly see that God is not the God of the small, the almost, the nearly, or the maybe – from salvation in His Son, to healing, mercy, forgiveness, and His grace in our lives. Even after a whole lifetime of trials. God is good; God is great – all the time. Both in the deepest pains and utter defeats and the highest joys. His love is beautiful and wonderful.
Why do I share all this? Well, I was once deeply ashamed of who I was. I was filled with guilt because I was different with all these problems. I was deeply ashamed that as a grown man I lived like no one else, certainly not a "normal" life. I am no longer ashamed to be different. I know God loves me. That means everything. I also know that with Him in His grace, even after so long, the next chapters of my life are renewed, with good things I have only begun to see yet to come.

‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 4:6.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Misuse of Art & A Higher Purpose for Art

My thoughts focus today on something that often weighs on my heart as an artist. What did the word "art" conjure in ones mind before what we now often see paraded as art in the media? It was once an expression of beauty, meaning, and edifying expressions of the heart. Creativity throughout history was used as a gift and expression of that place within the artist, or that which he or she sees around them in life, that touch us all. It was noble and enriching. We find ourselves now in a state in today’s culture where art is instead used as a medium to offend, outrage, and get attention. Art has become a means of provocative offense.

Ranging from the outright offensive to ugly or empty, it seems to say a great deal about us. More than we would wish. Walk down the halls of a major city’s art gallery and you see a timeline of wonderful art, until you come to the present time, when it plummets to depths that leave one shaking one's head. I am chiefly referring to art that is deliberately offensive or empty. Dry, bleak expression (such as dots on a wall, splotches of black smear, or even blank white canvasses) can leave one wondering what in the world this thing called art is really about.

How many times have the latest headlines in art news been that of offense, shock, and outrage, particularly to people with cherished values or Christian beliefs? This is portrayed by the art establishment as the modern elite aesthetic, the height of true artistic expression. This “pure”, “true” aesthetic has become synonymous with flouting values, especially if it is Judeo-Christian. Values themselves are instead redefined as destroying or denying freedom of expression, the unforgivable sin in all art forms in the modern mind. Freedom of expression is wonderful, but to abuse it as a cloak for depravity hurts us all.

Artists on the local community level are full of talent and meaning. There are many artists creating great art there. However, mass media and the higher culture shape what people ultimately see as representing art. It has now become pervasive in the mass media, is a major part of art culture in modern times. We have all heard of the examples of crucifixes in a jar of urine, baby skulls, piles of dirt on the floor, dung on religious images, religious symbols mocked or flouted in all manner of ways, pornography as art, other things that can not even be mentioned here really, all meant to deliberately outrage or offend. To shock and redefine not only artistic values, but societal values is its purpose. If the purpose were to reflect society itself, it seems only to wish to do so of depravity and empty despair. To me this is not respectful of the public, in my own opinion.

It is certainly true that there are very many and varied ways to express artistic expression in all manner of media, styles, and outlooks on life. That includes standing for something, or speaking out. It does include imaginative originality. One can portray struggles, or the painful parts of life, this is a good thing indeed. It is when art is used to outright offend people, to provoke and affront for the sake of doing that alone, that it becomes a crude blunt instrument that is really to me an irresponsible use of artistic expression. Perhaps in that way the question "does art imitate life, or does life imitate art?" is central. This is rather tragic either way. When will we once again become outraged ourselves at that which mocks and scorns what is good?

It is my heartfelt belief in creativity’s purpose to lift up and bring people together, and to respect those who view the art we create. Touching others with beauty, meaning, and inspiring the heart. To lift up the mind, society, culture, the noble part of the intellect. To show the public that they also are part of this thing we call art, an important part - and to have the utmost respect for them in the art presented.

While many use their art to "pollute the waters" so to speak, there are so many talented artists in everyday life around us, so many who do such wonderful work in every medium imaginable. It is a shame that their art is often lost in the focus on shock. We need to support them every way we can.

Some artists proffering the art referred to defend their work by telling us these things need to be seen, that art can't be defined, that we must be free to express ourselves even at the cost of decency. That people need to be shocked from their conventions. Seriously, do we really need more of that? Is life not full of violence, insensitivity, and pain already? Is that what we want art to become? Personally I find our daily lives are already cluttered with outrages.

I am not advocating censorship by any means. We all have choices we make freely. Rather, a call to the higher purpose of true art expression. A movement to bless others with art. A movement of graciousness to others. Are we snobby artists doling it out to the "unenlightened masses" whether they like it or not - or is the viewer a part of the art experience? An integral part, no less. Perhaps that hits at the heart of the matter. Artists might do well to remember that without the public, we are just expressing ourselves by ourselves, for ourselves. If one is entrusted with a talent or ability, it would be so much more enriching for us all if it is used with respectful care. That includes respect for the public and art in all its forms as well.

If art is going to continue to roll around in the muck and mire, we need this movement from both artists and the public to instead focus on shining light in the world. Art has the unique ability to touch the human mind and heart in that way. For the many artists I see out there who do wonderful work, what a shame it is that the other side is the face the public often sees.

Jeffrey M Green

Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8, the Bible.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Look Back at Artworks Created and Events of 2013.

Thank you 2013 supporters!
Jeffrey M Green

Facebook Page (please share with your friends):


Blog, "The Artists Corner":

Peace and Beauty Studios:

Google + Business Page:

Thank You 2013 Supporters

This past year has been such a blessing for my art. So many doors opened, from events and published works, to commissioned pieces. None of this would of been possible without the support of others. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
Below are the many who were instrumental this year. Thank you all for your support, encouragement, very real help, and opportunities! This was help of every kind - from gifts and financial help, to opportunities and support.

First and foremost, I thank the Lord who is my utmost joy - who has turned a shut in, who could not function in life without terrible ordeals (they very truly took me out of life for most of it) into someone who can contribute to the world. What can a man give to God? The more I go along in my walk with Christ, the more I see being His child as a continual act of receiving. It is all from His hand, His gifts are manifold and ever healing.

Thank you:

My mom, Carole Ketaner and step-dad Jeff
My wife, Cherie Green
Aunt Nancy and Uncle Gene Suydam
The Belsky's

Penny Hochella, Erik Chuss, Grace Fried, Bob Jordon, Edie DeProfio,
and all the folks at Forks Area Art Society. Everyone at FAAS have given me such warm support, thank you all.

The folks of First United Methodist Church Bangor, Pa. There are so many who warmly supported me. Among them: Donna Koehler, Maureen Brown, Carolyn and Shap Shaplin, Annette and Frank DiGiacamo, Cheryl Hower, Carol Shaplin, Linda Davis, and the FUMC women's Bible study.

MariAn Olson of The Gallery at St John's, Easton, PA.

Brenda Voll of the Nazareth Center for the Arts.

Sharon Cromer of Dallas, Texas.

Marion Romig of Rochester, NY.

Diane and Pete Gruber of Glen Rose, Texas.

Sally Ford of COLORED PENCIL Magazine.

Ann Kullberg of CP Magazine.

Susan Kalan, Arts Around Town, WFMZ online.

The folks at the Paint Box Art Club, Nazareth, Pa. Including Jackie Shoup and Janine Watt.

Marie Gelsomino, Will and Barbara Daskal of the Pocono Mountains Art Group.

Jim and Barbara Witczak.

Our neighbors Heidi and Cindy.

Stephanie Rhoades & Don Roth

Diane and Lewis Paulhamus.

So many more supported, prayed, and gave their encouragement. Thank you so much!

God bless you with a wonderful 2014,

Jeffrey M Green
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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Traditional Classic Art, Undervalued Today?

After reading some negative comments in another forum concerning some very worthy and wonderful artists, it again called to my attention something I have felt for some time now.  It is big issue today in the art world.  What follows is my own opinion and meant merely as such, they are not meant as blanket statements.  It concerns the current mindset among very many indeed that traditional or classic art are dirty words.

Most major city galleries are solely devoted to modern/contemporary art. These art circles are inclusive to themselves.  Modern art has become quite mainstream, defining what art is for much of the most public and popular art.  Yet it is the attitude itself from there that comes across so strongly.  It seems that all the negative energy and defiance from artists we so often hear in the media, or of those in the art world, is actually needed for much of modern art, as most art speaks for itself.  I know of so many artists who create beautiful work.  When you view the work, you are inspired and have that wonderful feeling inside that art can give.  A great piece speaks for itself on many levels.  It has been that way for centuries.    
As you tour a major city art museum you see a timeline of centuries of beautiful art of every kind - until you come to the 50’s and 60’s, at which point art becomes dark, muddy, bare, purposely ugly, and purposely devoid of any meaning.  Yet at the same time the artist and his or her voice becomes louder, defiant, self-important, and looking to fight every moral and aesthetic convention in society.  This can feed an inclusive art society of itself for a time, yet do not we as artists want to reach everyone - not just artists among artists?

I do think all kinds of art belong in the public arena.  I am not by any means against modern or contemporary art – though I personally value modern art that upholds aesthetic ideal in its portrayal.  It really becomes the voices so loudly clamoring there is exclusion that ends up the ones who are mainstream and excluding, while traditional/classic art goes on quietly speaking to art lovers universally.  Real people like you and me.  People who find joy in creating, or in that which is created by others.