Welcome to the first installment of The heART Series, a new, monthly series in which we'll discover and explore some of the lesser-known, or maybe even lesser-appreciated creative arts, and will examine how the arts and faith are intertwined.
Each artist interviewed in this series is a Christian woman, whether or not her work is centered around her faith. We'll hear from painters, writers, photographers, graphic artists, dancers, stitchers, calligraphers, fashion designers, leather workers, and more.
I am beyond excited about this project, and because I want you to be just as excited as I am, if you haven't already, I really recommend reading more about the heart behind The heART Series ⟶here⟵.
So, is everyone all caught up and ready to go? Me too! Let's get started with our first artist!
Valerie Wieners of Valerie Wieners Art
I'm 27 and married to Brad and we live in Amarillo, Texas. For most of my life I have struggled with addiction. From 10-15 I struggled with Binge Eating Disorder, from 16-18 I struggled with Anorexia and from 16-25 I also struggled with Bulimia. Food has always been my struggle and my way of coping when life felt out of control. When I was 20 I was raped and started drinking to forget everything, shortly after that I started doing drugs which led to a cocaine addiction and an overdose the day before my 21 birthday. I went to rehab for 45 days and that's where Jesus and I began our Love Journey and I began to do Art again. Before Rehab I hated God and everything about the idea of a God, I believed that if there was a God, bad things wouldn't happen. I now know that there is a God because I was never able to stop any addiction until I stopped trying to control everything and let God be God. Bad things still happen because we live in a sin-filled world where people get to choose their next action, not because God wants bad things to happen to us. I'm thankful for a loving God, I'm thankful for 6 years of being clean, and I'm thankful for a husband who knows what I've done and loves me still. I am always making things because that’s who God made me to be. I love painting and lettering, and I always have. Hobbies include: ice cream dates (Cake Batter is my favorite), playing tennis, watching the Texas Rangers, and snuggling with my little family.
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?
Valerie: I paint, write, letter, and use colors, and I have ever since I was like 3. I was always obsessed with using every crayon, studying different handwriting styles, and drawing my own things to color. My childhood was dysfunctional… I had an alcoholic dad and a mom who was trying to do the best she could with what she had. My art became a form of therapy and my escape. Throughout my life I have struggled with eating disorders, drugs, alcohol, self esteem, and self worth. Art was always what I used to calm myself back down.
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?
Valerie: I pray a lot, mostly for the person and home that the piece is going to. I also pray that something neat comes out onto the canvas or paper.
tlib: Tell us about your creative process. What inspires you to get started? Can you turn your creativity on and off?
Valerie: Most times I lack motivation to do custom projects, probably because I know that the customer has something envisioned and what is going to come out will be way different. It’s very intimidating for someone to pay me for something before they know what they are getting and I generally don’t want to start because of fear they won’t like it. I have to turn on music and just start painting. I think my creativity is always on… I think if you’re an artist, you can’t just turn it on and off. Art and creativity is who you are, it's not a thing you do.
tlib: Do you prefer to share your work or do you like to keep it just between yourself and God? Why?
Valerie: I share a lot on social media but there is a lot only my family, friends, or people who come in our house see. I share things that will point someone back to Jesus but there are plenty of things that I don’t share. My husband and I have a grey, black, and white painting I did when we moved into our house that no one has seen unless they’ve walked into our bedroom. It’s really cool but I have no reason to post a picture… Someone looking at it probably wouldn’t think of Jesus when they saw it. What I post I try to keep inspiring, encouraging, or colorful, because that’s what the goal of my social media is. Chances are I will never post my food, a pedicure, the sky, or other things like that because I doesn’t fit in with my goal.
tlib: If you share your work, how do you promote your art in a way that glorifies God?
Valerie: I usually post a picture with a scripture or a quote, OR the picture is a scripture or something encouraging. I think that glorifies God all in itself. I also post #VWAFridayIntroductions that share my story of how God changed a drug addict into a believer and I believe that also glorifies Him.
tlib: How do you take compliments? How do you stay humble without denying your unique skill?
Valerie: I simply say “Thank You”… that takes a lot sometimes. I’m very introverted so conversations with anyone that I don’t really know are awkward, but if someone wants to compliment me I always say Thank You.
tlib: Do you believe that God can be glorified through secular art? How can secular work still point to Jesus?
Valerie: I don’t know an answer to this… I would say Possibly. I think it would depend on what the art is. God absolutely gives people gifts and I think that art is one of those gifts, so if someone is using that skill and can tell someone where the gift came from (God), Jesus would be glorified.
tlib: What is a dream or vision you have in regards to how your work may impact hearts and souls for Christ?
Valerie: I always want people to get my art and believe that they are loved, worthy, accepted, and enough because of who Jesus is, and not because of anything they do. I use combinations of colors and letters to draw people in… even the non-believers. I want people to see the art and be encouraged. I share my story so people will know I am not perfect and not think of me as higher than them. I did a lot of drugs, slept with married people, drank a lot, worked in a strip club and stole a lot. Then Jesus happened, and He changed the game for me. I want people to know I’m not perfect, and have done dark things and I’m on a journey to holiness just like everyone else.
tlib: Lastly, for fun, who (living or dead, and besides God) are you most inspired by when it comes to your art?
Valerie: I have loved @makewells (floral Illustration and mixed media) for a long time. I also recently discovered @bumbleandbristle (character sketches and illustrations) and @fischtales (Bible journaling and illustrations) and love them also. I think all three people are so great at what they do.
Thank you so much, Valerie, for opening your heart up to us here for The heART Series! I have loved hearing from you, and am so inspired by your heart for Christ.
READERS: What did you take away from this interview? Do you have any questions or comments about The heART Series? Let me know! (You know reading and responding to your comments is one of my favorite things in the world, right?) ⤵︎