Image: chalk pastel drawing by Stephanie McLeod (work in progress)
Course: Bahá’í Faith and the Arts (2020)
Faculty: Anne Perry, Peggy Caton
Having had three children and a nursing career, I’ve only dabbled in creative pursuits. In 2019, I joined the Arbor Gallery Co-op in Merced, California. I have increased my artwork output, adding beadwork earrings and necklaces to my skills in chalk pastel and acrylic painting. I took the Wilmette Institute course—my first one—to know more intimately what God would have me do and to increase my ability to invent and create pictures from my imagination and not just copy cool pictures.
My main goal in the course was to read, listen, and learn. I also wanted to draw inspiration from the writings, from other artists, and to grow closer to God. I have since gained an eye-opening awareness that God and Baha’u’llah are right by my side whenever creation occurs, whether in my mind or through my hand and brush (or other instruments used to create). I also gained an appreciation of God’s name, “the Fashioner.”
By observing what others have done and are doing, I have become freer and want to try more abstract representations of the reflections of the spiritual teachings of Baha’u’llah. The course has also helped me to experience new feelings and changes of attitude—especially the attitude of using prayer to create. I have tried to be precise in my portrayal of my artwork, but also see that being ‘perfect’ is not necessary to do good art.
Going forward, I would like to create drawings and paintings that convey spiritual values and that would inspire others, and to be more experimental. A new home front pioneer in our community is an abstract artist who may be able to help me to loosen up and explore this field. Art would also be fun to teach or share in youth and children’s classes.