When the FUMCFW worship team asked longtime church member and artist Dan Darr to do a painting during a worship service in which the theme was “God the Creator,” he says that his first thought was, “Wow! I’ve always wanted to participate in the worship service — such as by reading Scripture — but to participate by doing something artistic is even better! I also felt very honored that they thought I would be good for the idea,” he adds.
When the day arrived for Dan to do this live expression of God’s creative spark within us, he admits to quite a bit of nervousness and trepidation. “Painting is a lot like fishing,” he explains, “sometimes you catch something and sometimes you don’t. So, I was a little worried that whatever I did might not turn out well.”
And then, as the time grew nearer to actually begin this work, Dan says that in remembering that he has painted many times, he leaned into this experience to calm himself. “I also felt a sense of trust that everything would be fine,” he adds. “I remembered where I was — the nicest, most gracious audience I could ever have!”
With no real decision beforehand of exactly what he would paint during the two, back-to-back, hour-long traditional Sanctuary worship services — and no rough sketches or concepts to work from, Dan plunged in. “I had thought a lot about it, though,” he says. “At first I thought of making something highly abstract, since Dr. Bruster was going to be talking about abstract ideas of creativity and creation. But by Friday I was thinking of how incredibly beautiful our church building is, and how my strong suit is painting “plein air” (outdoor painting). Noting that this idea immediately felt like a much better fit, Dan says that he then knew he wanted to paint the church itself, but what he didn’t know was what the views would look like from the chancel, so he actually waited until he set up his easel to decide exactly which view of our church to paint.
Dan says that during his experience of creating these two paintings completely from scratch in front of hundreds of people, even though he was fully aware of this environment, he was still able to get into that wonderful place in his mind that happens when he is painting alone. Elaborating on this special place in his mind, Dan says, “It is hard to describe. Time seems to slow down, and I feel very calm and peaceful.”
As the service ended and Dan put the finishing touches on his painting, he says he felt somewhat overwhelmed by the response from the congregation. “Everyone was so nice,” he adds. “When Dr. Bruster asked me to hold up my work, they ‘ooooh-ed’ and ‘aaahh-ed.’ Then after the service, people came up to get a better look at the painting and tell me nice things. They made me feel like I was Claude Monet!”
Looking back on this experience now, Dan says the whole thing meant a great deal to him for many reasons. “The whole idea of our church celebrating creativity as one of God’s gifts to us reminds me why I love our church so much,” he says, beaming. “And then that I get to be the person to provide an example of this creativity within each of us . . . it is humbling.”
Read this story and more in CONNECT Magazine | 2018 Issue 2
CONNECT Magazine is your source for the stories of our FUMCFW Faith Community — and how each fits in with our Healthy Plate Discipleship. Pick up your copy in the Main Office and Welcome Center or read it online.CONNECT Magazine