My friends, my friends! It's time for the next installment of The heART Series, and I CANNOT WAIT FOR YOU TO READ THIS INTERVIEW!
My belief is that through the arts, souls can be awakened to the presence of God. The Holy Spirit is all around us, all of the time, but sometimes we have our blinders on. Although the arts themselves aren't responsible for bringing revival, I believe that when we allow art to speak into our souls, our souls can be awakened to the presence of the Holy Spirit, who's been there all along.
In this monthly series, I'll be taking you through an exploration of how creative artwork and faith go hand-in-hand, even when the artwork itself is secular. How can God be glorified through choreography, for example? How about someone's landscape or still-life painting? A t-shirt design? Photography? Graphic design? Where is God in these arts?
He's there; God's hand is in every gift that He gives to every person -- it's just a matter of how the gift is manifested and used for His glory.
You can catch up with past interviews by clicking here. When you're ready, come back and let's hear from our NINTH ARTIST!
Amber Thomas of Amber Thomas Makes
Amber is a painter and maker at AmberThomasMakes who was born and raised in a small town lying happily under the Californian sun. She's an adventurer and homebody, a misfit and His beloved, a cocktail of trouble and grace. She's more contradiction than constant; always relying on His mercies anew. Her story is flawed and messy and mostly imperfect, but His love is redeeming and whole which affords her the amazing opportunity to make (and sell) artful reflections of His greatness.
the life in between: When did you first learn to (or realize that you could!) dance, paint, sew, write, style, photograph, etc. What is your heART story?
Amber: I was listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast “Big Magic” the other day and heard Brené Brown -- a guest on the show -- mention that everyone is creative, but not everyone stays creative. She mentioned there is something that happens -- usually a criticism -- in our childhood that can stop us in our making tracks. And, I realized I lived a blessed creative life.
I’ve loved to make from the earliest moments I can remember. I grew up in a home where my mom cherished her own creative habits and my dad ran a construction company which is -- Big Perspective -- creation. Their examples of the importance of creativity always validated my efforts and so I spent years practicing and falling in love with different types of making.
tlib: While you're immersed in a project or a piece, what are some things going through your mind? Do you pray? Do you praise?
Amber: I talk. Out loud. Almost the entire time that I make.
I didn’t realize that I speak words over my process until the other night. I was painting while my husband was watching the football game and he heard me. He asked what I was saying and, honestly, the words were unconscious meditations of my heart. I’m not sure what is being said specifically, but I know that hearing my own voice and my process talked through is comforting. It’s comfort that allows me to infuse each brush stroke with intention and so, mindless chatter it is.
tlib: Tell us about your creative process. What inspires you to get started? Can you turn your creativity on and off?
Amber: I am the queen of procrastination. I make all kinds of reasons not to start or work hard, so I can’t wait around for creativity to beckon me. Often I set myself up with a foamy cup of coffee and milk, my paints, and a blank canvas, where I wait. Sometimes I wait for just moments, others are full of dragging frustration. But the important part of creativity for me is showing up and sitting in His presence with quiet reverie.
tlib: Do you prefer to share your work or do you like to keep it just between yourself and God? Why?
Amber: I believe that sharing our talents is a vital step to creativity. Sometimes we share with ourselves, sometimes with close friends and family, sometimes the world. But the important part of creativity is the community it can establish through color, pattern, and emotion.
tlib: If you share your work, how do you promote your art in a way that glorifies God?
Amber: This is a delicate balance for me. I’m still learning what it means to run a business and glorify Him. I guess, what’s important to me is to remain intentional and kind in my interactions with my customers and clients. Customer service is an art in itself and, while I want my pieces to be visually stunning, I want my heart behind the pieces, my effort in the pieces, and personal affections to be passed along to my customers.
This usually looks like indirect glory. I’m not speaking about Him outright, but instead attempting to share what I think is most important to Him: love.
tlib: How do you take compliments? How do you stay humble without denying your unique skill?
Amber: I say thank you. I believe humility is easier to manage when we are grateful for and open to the encouragement others give as they appreciate our craft. Encouragement is an important part of creativity. I believe that allowing admiration and gratefulness for your craft is life-giving to the making process. Channeling compliments into your art is sure to enhance your end products -- or so is the case in my craft.
tlib: Do you believe that God can be glorified through secular art? How can secular work still point to Jesus?
Amber: Making is a talent, whatever making you might do. And it is our talents and creativity that reveal our stories best. So, yes absolutely. In fact, I think secular art can be one of the greatest ways to expose the world to Him. Our ability to reflect and enhance the beauty that He has created is worship and witness in intimate forms.
tlib: What is a dream or vision you have in regards to how your work may impact hearts and souls for Christ?
Amber: God made an awesomely green earth. I want His beautiful details to be (minorly) reflected in the pieces I make even if the connection is weak at best. (He’s way more creative than I.) I want my art to grow in love with the little details of the land and life around me in order to enhance the faith (or potential faith) of my customers and admirers.
tlib: Lastly, for fun, who (living or dead, and besides God) are you most inspired by when it comes to your art?
Amber: I have a deep-seated love for Georgia O’Keeffe, her florals, and her details. I’ll forever cherish the boldness of Frida Kahlo’s statements within her pieces. And I melt into a puddle over the sculpture of Petah Coyne. I am an art history buff, so you could drop a female artist from any day or age onto my step and inspiration will abound.
STOP RIGHT NOW, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. As I read Amber's answers I found myself saying, "YES ME TOO! OMG ME TOO!" at almost every turn. In fact the only answer I sadly couldn't cry out "ME TOO" to was the very last one. (So please don't drop any artists onto my step because I won't be able to tell you anything about them apart from how beautiful that thing they made is.)
So Amber, thank you so much for participating in this series! You're an absolute inspiration, you've been so easy to work with, and I love, love, love your enthusiasm. A gem, you.
Now readers, leave some love for Amber in the comments below! (Because, I mean, look at how beautiful.)