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“If you are persistent in a dream God has called you to, even failure will work for good.” –Melissa Douglas, Artist

I love being in the studio.

over the past two weeks, I have been waking with a burning desire to be in the studio and pick up right where I left the day before. each morning, I find myself anxious to see how the paint from yesterday dried & add more layers to the canvases filling my studio loft.

I love it.

these days I am reworking & in most cases totally transforming paintings I did when I first started painting. it’s a stewardship & necessity thing, but it is also a need for that early work to bear the markings of this new season of life & growth for me.
one nice surprise has been seeing the markings I considered mistakes or total bombs the first go round, be the very things that help to create just the right textures & foundations for what is being created now.

here is a glimpse…

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click to view and purchase art by Lanecia HERE

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a glimpse of the piece “Fully Alive,” I recently created on a 24″x36″ canvas.

my heart is full after the past few weeks. so much goodness. to marry my best friend in a place my heart loves was one of the best experiences of my life.

settling back into routine and figuring out next steps without being totally overcome by fear has been a bit challenging for me at times. there is such a thin line between being paralyzed or being motivated by my fears. now that I am living life as a professional creative/artist solely, I find myself walking that line for a period of time each day.

yesterday was my first full day back in the studio. decided to get to work on some large abstract canvas paintings I have been adding layers to for a couple of months.  it was good.  it was exactly where I needed to be.

earlier last week I attended a panel conversation at the Menil, “The Influence of Gandhi & Dr. King on Hip Hop,” and a number of the ideas spoken stirred me to think more deeply about the work I do, as well as the life in which I live.  the work I am creating now is my continuation of that conversation and the truths revealed regarding the complexity and beauty of the human experience.  last night I finished one of the pieces.

each stroke on the canvas was a sentence about vulnerability, fear, need for communion & hope, each layer a chapter on the goodness & messiness of the soul fully alive.

today, I sabbath.

I remain still so I can know and listen for direction.  I trust that no matter what is done today or left undone today, I am enough.

as for tomorrow though… I look forward to time with paint & canvas and returning to the grind necessary to turn my dreams into plans.

tomorrow I will…

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free spirit:
someone or something who lives by their own wishes & is unconstrained by society.

this has been one hell of a long night USA, one hell of a long night.

Yet I am not afraid of the night; I have never feared the dark to the point that I have to rush the sun to rise.

So I am choosing, mostly in silence, to sit in this long night to see what needs to be seen and name what needs to be named, so that when the sun does rise I will have a sense that there is justice for all, that bodies matter… that black bodies matter to be more specific, & that our tears have truly made the ground fertile for institutional & systematic change in this country… United States of America.

 

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She turned her can’ts into cans, and her dreams into plans. -Unknown

Abbie Preston and I have been friends for about 3 1/2 years. We met while working for The Art Project, Houston, a project of the Bread of Life that empowers mostly men and women living on the streets of Houston to tap into their creativity, heal and re-imagine life.  It was there that our friendship began to bloom and dreams of future collaborations were soon born.  I remember a number of times we would sit after work and dream over coffee of what could be.

Earlier this year I was forced to stop.  The stopping creating space to be still, heal, discover new artists for daily inspiration, be exposed to a whole new world on pinterest, listen to life, be revived by grace, and begin re-imagine life without fear being louder than love.  It was beautiful.  Once I started to trust and surrender to the unfolding, things started to take shape in ways I had not believed were possible.

In June of this year my creativity found a home at Hardy & Nance Studios, where I share a studio with Abbie and Carole Sconfitto.  Amazing!  This step towards our dreams in this particular space created the opportunity for one of our dreams to become a reality… Stamps & Stencils!

Last weekend we hosted our first Stamps and Stencils, a mixed media workshop experience where each participant is provided the supplies and the instructions necessary to allow their creativity to flow. Each person was able to create stamps and two stencils that they used to make square or rectangle masterpieces by the end of the 2-hour experience.  Abbie and I use these techniques in the art we create, and found so much delight in sharing them with others and seeing what flowed from their creativity.

It was fabulous… a dream come true!

Special thanks to Abbie for sharing the journey with me, Cleve for being my partner & cheerleader in all of this, Andrea Sawyer-Gray (photographer & creative), Chap Edmonson (filmed & produced our Stamps & Stencils video), all of the friends who helped us set-up & breakdown, all the participants, my family for encouraging me to be the artist I am, the artists of TAPH for teaching me to be brave and all  those who invested in this event.

So thankful I do not have to go through this life alone.

Our next workshop experience is scheduled for Saturday, November 1 (7-9pm).
Stay tuned for details and reserve your space early, it is going to be a fun one!

You can view the Stamps & Stencils video on the Workshop page of http://www.larartphotography.com.

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stamps & stencils photography by Andrea Sawyer-Gray

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I miss you when I am still and the earth is silent,

when my feet are covered by a blanket of wildflowers

and I delight in the view of the birds resting on city wires.

 

I miss you when the world is screaming and the clock  refuses not to keep time,

when I find myself grinding for the future in spaces where we use to dwell

and move here-to-there, arms empty.

 

I miss you when I sit at a table for four, with only two seats occupied,
and when the music plays and I want us to dance.

 

I miss you when I sit in my art studio creating,
giving life to breathless things.

 

I miss you when all my head can hear is your faint cry
as you passed into this world from my womb,
as if you knew.

 

I miss you when I remember I am a childless mother,

and that no brush stroke from my hand can give

my greatest masterpiece life.

December 4, 2013 I gave birth prematurely to Annee Juredline Rouse Tinsley with my partner for life, Cleve, holding my hand. She lived 2 hours and died resting upon my chest. 

A year ago today, love and grace kissed my brokenness through three of the most important people in my life… helping me to pull upon all the courage within me to fight through the shame and guilt to choose life. I will forever be grateful for their love and the opportunity to co-create a life that I will forever love. I am thankful. I am deeply sad. I am free.

photographed with a DuaFlex III Kodak Film Camera

photographed with a DuaFlex III Kodak Film Camera

“Know what you want to do, hold the thought firmly, and do every day what should be done, and every sunset will see you that much nearer the goal.”  

— Elbert Hubbard

Over the past year life has taught me, and Love has basically slapped me in the face with,  this truth:  she is who is brave enough to live her heart out loud is truly free.

Each heart has a song. And it’s song longs to be heard and shared… it needs to be heard and shared.  When each person is able to live out her passion, the world is a more beautiful place.  I’ve always loved the words of  Howard Thurman who says, “Do not ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

His words are so true; the world needs individuals who have come alive. Our communities need them. Our families and friends need them. Our souls need them.

Lately I’ve been inspired, challenged, and even encouraged by those who bravely ask themselves “What makes me come alive?” and,  in time,  just do it.  Some even make it a daily practice to examine their lives, asking themselves penetrating questions:

What drained me today?

What gave me life today?

How do I receive more time with what gives me life?

How do I lessen or let go of things–with love and grace–that drain me, both relationships and activities?  

The list of names of those who have lived out their life’s passions, or calling,  regardless of the risks, work, vulnerability, and time it requires, is as diverse and as beautiful as the world in which we live. These are individuals who have undoubtedly experienced much failure and disappointment, but they have also exhibited  a deep spiritual quality worth emulating: the moral courage it takes to risk all–at least to onlookers– for  a more personally meaningful possibility.  I marvel at those who dare to do so, for they embrace this “aliveness” of which Thurman speaks…

Day by day, one step at a time, pushing past fear, impatience, failure, insecurity and/or whatever else may keep them still, they just do it.

At the sun’s setting today, our lives may not look like the full picture we’ve imagined for ourselves, but undoubtedly we shall be steps closer to that life than we were at the sun’s rising. So we hope…and, so, we still pray.

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Female beauty is not a zero-sum game, a scarce commodity, or something only some of us are allowed to have. We have to think ourselves beautiful-not prettier than or less pretty. We have to believe that female beauty is limitless, and love our bodies for their own sake.

-Maya Rupert

Thinking yourself beautiful is a life long work for most of us… I know it will be for me. Though being out of the dating game has help shed some of the insecurities, still if I am not careful can find myself insecure about my weight and overly focused upon my appearance (hair, clothes, cosmetics, etc.) as if these things define my beauty or determine my worthiness of love and belonging.

I am learning though, that the more I accept my body each day with all of its perfect imperfections and uniqueness and live how I am most comfortable being, the more free and brave I become… the more I am able to enjoy life (like beaches, swimming pools, cocktail dresses, dancing in the blazing dance club at midnight with my love… Just to name a few things) even with 50plus more pounds of pregnancy & post pregnancy weight I have yet been able to shed… the more attention I give to caring for it and intention of give to what fuels it, gives it life.

Our bodies are our bodies. We are gifted with one, one unique frame of skin and bones. Our bodies are gift that are worth the work, for some of us the very hard mental, physical and emotional lifelong work, of learning how to love it well, embrace it for its goodness, accept its limitations and think ourselves beautiful in every season.

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Had my pregnancy with A.J. been full term, it is likely I would have had her by now or anxiously be awaiting her arrival with family & friends.

April 6 was the due date given to us by our doctor.  I know had I carried her full term she most likely would not have been born today, but April 6 was the date we were  told, the date we as new expecting parents were hoping for… praying for… were preparing our lives for.

But… Life would write another story for us, and today Cleve & I find ourselves living into this new storyline the best way we know how.  Day by day… hour by hour… and sometimes minute by minute.  As we journey through the grief and disappointment, each day brings its own joys, revelations, trials, triggers, questions, hopes and challenges.

Today has not been any different really, though it did start off in a unique way.  I took a “mental health” day from work, to create space for me to be fully present to my heart, as well as get some rest. I needed alone time, quiet time.

To be honest, I also really needed to be in spaces and places where I had a very slim chance of encountering questions like I got just last week about the health and well being of the baby.  Not everyone knows the story, how could they? I get it, understand and truly appreciate the love… I just knew having to tell someone that A. J. was born prematurely and died would have just been too much for me today.

On Friday I decided that a great way to enter into this day would be watching the sunrise at the beach.  So, I woke up early this morning before daybreak and drove in the dark to Galveston to be by the water as the daylight approached, iphone/camera in hand.

Here are a few of the photographs created as I received time alone with God and the memory of a life that has forever changed mine for the better.

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you call me out upon the waters

the great unknown where feet may fail

and there I find You in the mystery

in oceans deep my faith still stands (Oceans)… and that too is mystery to me

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when it comes to dogs, I am a hard one to love. since the age of five, I have been terrified of dogs–a bad run-in with a german shepherd left me scarred and a fear,  that many thought I would outgrow, took root.

for the past few years I have been consciously working on uprooting this fear, but it is pretty deep. if there was some place that I felt called to go or something I really wanted/needed to do, I have managed the fear, to an extent, but for the most part, it still determines the places I travel, wander, and the invitations I receive and activities I chose to do…like bike riding for instance.

“no way,” I would tell myself, and anyone else who suggested I pick up the sport. though I have fond memories of riding bikes, as a child and a teen with my family, the thought of riding the streets of the city, totally vulnerable to any stray or unleashed dog that could possibly cross my path, kept me from jumping on a bike.

I started singing a different tune last year when I noticed all of these red b-cycles for rent around Houston. a desire to ride again began to grow.  and after lots of internal conversations, observations of the park and how dogs move around the space, one day I just decided it was time.

on my first ride a member at the church I serve joined me. the next ride I did solo, all by myself. it was exhilarating and freeing. I was still a little anxious and always on the look out for our four-legged friends, but I loved it and decided biking was going to be apart of my 2014 experience in Houston.

after taking the step by myself, Cleve joined me and I noticed how my anxiety was less and I was able to be more present to the experience. it is becoming a habit. it is a joy for us both, so much so that I did not insist we change our next riding expedition when I found out that our the new location for our bike adventure would be in the middle of a downtown city dog festival. FOR REAL! Now I did remind him about a thousand times before getting on the bikes about my fear, but the point is I did not demand we change locations, I actually got out of  the car, and walked through the park with him to find us bikes to rent.

as we rode Sunday I kept thinking about the power of love, and the difference it has made in life to have a companion to journey with through all of life. there is something comforting and empowering about having someone beside you who you can trust when facing your fears.  on that ride gratitude, not fear, filled me.  it was life-giving.

truth be told, my phobia of dogs is still with me. it is still going to have an influence upon where I travel, the places I wander, and the activities I choose to do.  however I am thankful for city bike rentals and a friend whose love enables me to explore parts of our city and  enjoy the gift of spring and breathe in the fresh air outside of my car.

here are some views from the b-cycle…

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"Christianity is a way, not a state, and a Christian is never something one is, only something one can pray to become." W.H. Auden

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