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In the Bible, Jesus speaks of the heart and says “What you say flows from what is in your heart.” (Luke 6:45, NLT)  Or another translation “Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.” (The Message)

Simply put, you just can’t fake who you are.  This will come out in your words and actions; no matter how much you repress, trivialize, spiritualize, legalize or lie.  The you in you will always shine through.

This maxim is true for all walks of life, from business to relationships.  The compass needle always points north.

I often find myself trying to not speak about certain things and trying not to touch on certain subjects.  The reasons for this often vary, but it is usually just to avoid embarrassment.  When I speak/paint about those who matter to me, I always try to keep the “damage” down to a minimum, because you never really know how people are going to react.  Sometimes this is justified and sometimes, it is completely irrational.  It’s just that when “representing” people, it can sometimes bring out the best in others and sometimes the opposite.

Some people ask why I paint landscapes so often.  After all, they know that I can do portraitures and I’m not so bad at northern style westcoast art, either, if I do say so myself 🙂  So, why do I paint landscapes so often?  Personally, no matter what people say about seeing naked women or faces and whatnot in my landscapes, I think that it has to do with my love of geology.

But painting from what is on my heart is the ultimate reason why I paint.  So, whether it is a landscape or a portraiture, my best paintings are always the ones that I put my heart into.

“The same is true for anything, including ditch digging”  someone once remarked to me.  It’s true, a ditch dug with passion and skill is better than a ditch dug without.  *But* very seldom does anyone walk by a ditch and say, “that’s some fine ditchwork you done there, man!  It really moved me.”

I said it before and I’ll say it again, good artwork reflects upon who we are; great artwork reflects upon who God is.  Art is always a reflection upon something.  Reflection always comes from the heart and from the abundance of the heart. 

So, to all those reflective people out there, I encourage you to work with passion from your heart!

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My favorite English teacher in college always said “write about the things that you know.”  I believe that artists should also work from what they know; and not just writers.  It follows that creative people should reflect upon their lives, what they know and the people they have met along the way.

The tough part about creating from what you know is that the cuts that make the most impression are usually the deepest.  Reflecting upon past memories is a lot like touching a carving or sculpture with your hands.  You can feel every cut, every contour, every nook and all the “scars”.  The deepest cuts make the most impression.

A carving can’t feel back, and so too reflection can be a very one-sided thing and quite unhealthy if you’re not careful.  I learned this lesson with much pain and difficulty.  It was another lesson learned in college.  It was about a girl.  And like feeling a carving, any feelings were not mutual.  It’s painfully funny how something can, for all intents and purposes, look alive and yet have no life.  What I thought was attraction, turned out to only be attention-seeking.  I fell for the wooden doll that never came to life–that could never love me back.  I was in love with the likeness of someone and not the person.

I fell for Pinocchio’s sister.

Skip ahead a few years, after much wandering in confusion, God sent a messenger who breathed life into me.  And though I was very attracted to her, she had something that I needed so much more desperately, the Holy Spirit.

She gave all the credit for the success in her life to Jesus.  The dark reflections in my soul (aka shadows) shuddered and even scrambled to explain it away; the light was rejuvinated!!!  The cut was made!

I remember the day when we sat in her Uncle’s car, watching the distant killer whales blow pillars of mist into the golden remnants of evening light that made haloes around her most beautiful eyes and face.    She told me that I have the Holy Spirit in me.

Like the air that the killer whales need to breathe, she breathed life into me.

I will carry what I saw on those shores for the rest of my life.  I would thank her, but she would just give the credit to Jesus anyways, and so I thank God!

Now, you might be thinking that we were destined for love and great things.  And we were…but not together.  I was in love with what shone through her.  I was in love with Jesus.

We tried to “make” it work over the years, but the relationship was built on sand before it was ever built on stone.  Hearts were wounded, tears shed, paths carved seperately.

I wish to this day that I could say that I am sorry for how things worked out, but that’s probably just me over-reflecting.  After all, things haven’t been all that bad.  She’s now happy working as a pediatric nurse at BC Children’s hospital and I’m happily married as an artist.

And now, like most of my stories, I leave you with a paragraph pertaining to a perpetual platitude applied to personal perceptions.  Good art is like a reflection of who we are.  Great art is a reflection of who God is.  It’s healthy to reflect upon who people are, but it’s healthier still to reflect upon who God is.

Or, as the very centre of the Bible states:

  “Far better to take refuge in God
than trust in people;
Far better to take refuge in God
than trust in celebrities.”

 Psalm 118:8-9
The Message

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After reading a blog referenced in a recent article that someone showed me in the Vancouver Province, Confessions of a 29 Year Old Virgin, I feel the need to talk about someone who is on my heart.  I want to talk about a woman and not just any woman, but one who is my best friend.  I want to talk about my wife, Amy. 

Amy and I have been happily married for about 4 years now and I love her very much.  I believe that she provides all that I need in a woman and that is why I asked her to marry me.  She’s smart, sexy, committed to God, and she’s seen me at my *very* worst and still loves me for who I am.  It’s a tribute to her gracefulness that she is still married to me.

With all of my quirks, it is a bit of a wonder how we even made it past our wedding night.  Ah yes, our wedding night, that fateful night for all newlyweds who have waited to share intimacy together.  This was a night that that we may tell our grandkids about in detail, some day.  Yes, there is a story behind this and one that bears telling in detail.  So, what in the world happened that we would tell our grandkids in detail about, you ask?

Well, a bit of background.   We courted for a very short period in time, about one year, and were engaged for about 2 months after that.  We abstained from any number of things, including even, for about 2 months, touching; all with the intent of saving it for our wedding day.

The wedding came and we were off on our honeymoon.  I had booked us the most expensive hotel that I could find in Toronto, and had booked a massage for my new bride.  We wanted to go and visit family for our honeymoon, in Ontario.  We were going to spend our first night in the best hotel that I could find in the country–according to what I found online (a tip: save your money and ask someone who lives there).

So, here we were, newlyweds, travelling halfway across the country to a stange city in a strange, albeit extravagant, hotel; and not really knowing a thing about sleeping with each other.  Nightfall came and we were EXHAUSTED!

Amy told me later that she barely got to enjoy her massage.  I think that all that we wanted to do that night was sleep.  In an effort to make our wedding night perfect, we totally wore ourselves out.

And that wasn’t all.  Because we knew nothing of each other’s sleep patterns Amy didn’t know a little secret about me.  I sleepwalk–especially when I am exhausted.  For those who aren’t familiar with sleepwalking it often takes the form of a dream to the sleepwalker, where things don’t look like they do awake.

So, instead of intense passion, she got a husband who didn’t even know who she was, let alone that they were married.  And being the chivalrous sort that I was, I didn’t want to be in bed with a strange lady, and so I jumped out of bed with the blankets wrapped around me and blurted out “who are you?”  Amy, by this time was a little worried, when she replied “I’m your wife, we’re married”  To which I replied, “No you’re not, I’m not married!”  By this time, she was in tears and replied “yes we are” and showed me her ring and alluded to my ring.  at which I casually replied, “oh, I guess we’re married”, started humming a tune and went back to bed.  Amy phoned her sister and her brother in-law who knew all about sleep walking and told Amy “don’t wake him”.

All that I remember were bits and pieces and that Amy was in tears when I woke up.  And I asked her what happened and she told me the whole event and couldn’t help but laugh at the innocence of it all, but I felt kind of bad for putting her in that situation and making her cry on our wedding day, in a strange town, with no warning about my nocturnal tendancies. 

We laughed about it and even the parents are starting to laugh about it now, too.

But screw ups happen, no matter what (and sometimes because of) the arrangements you make.  Being graceful doesn’t come from controlling everything; it is sometimes most evident when you make mistakes.  Grace is a necessary part of being graceful…  I consider our wedding night to be one of our best “mistakes” ever and a testimony to God’s grace in our lives.

Now, you may be asking about what this has to do with the “art of purity”?  EVERYTHING!!!  *Only* God’s grace allows for purity of heart and true inspiration.  “Who can climb Mount God?  Who can scale the holy north-face?  Only the clean-handed, only the pure-hearted; Men who won’t cheat, women who won’t seduce.” ps 24:4-5, (The Message)

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Amy Fox

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