The truth of the matter is, we’ve been masking ourselves – our true selves, our inner selves – to the world for quite some time. But in March of 2020, COVID-19 hit our world, and the masks we began to wear were no longer hidden masks of our hearts. They became (to me) a physical reminder of the deeper heart wounds that we try to hide everyday.
Four months into the virus, I found myself (probably like the rest of you) needing a haircut. It was in that pandemic struggle that I found a person who was willing to share not only her skills in hairdressing, but she bore her heart, and I found something so precious and so refreshing that I sought her out more than once in the months that followed.
As I sat in her small one room salon, Erin shared many truths with me. My heart sang at having found a sister in Christ to talk with…someone that shared my faith and love of Jesus, and who was unashamed to speak of that love.
On the wall across from us was this painting. As I inquired about it, I learned that Erin was indeed an artist in more than one form! This piece, called “Caged Beauty” spoke a story to my heart as she unfolded what she had painted, and why. She practically breathed life into the creation as she recounted her affection and heartache for children caught in sex trafficking. As she described this piece to me, I could envision clearly her portrayal of the children’s’ beauty, but the tragedy of them being trapped behind a world of lies, deceit and fear. The story spoke so personally to me that it became my first purchased piece of true art for our new home.
As months passed, I learned of Erin’s new art studio space in downtown Brevard. It was in my visit with her there that I felt a tug on my heart to purchase Erin’s pieces and to sell them at Burlap & Lace’s space within the Marketplace on Locust in Hendersonville, NC. I loved her heart that was sketched into every piece, and I wanted to help expose her work to others. In that vein, I asked Erin if I might video her telling of her work in her own words, and she was readily agreeable. I also took notes (so glad I did!) in case my videoing skills were lacking. As it turns out, my skills didn’t fail me, but this blog site has. Video additions are not part of my “free” package. So to the best of my ability, I will share Erin’s paintings and her stories behind them with you. My words of description will be as much hers as mine, as I wrote down exact quotes from her. And just so you know, her work will be offered for sale in my space after Christmas so spread the word by sharing this blog with your friends and on your personal pages. And please understand….these are not Hobby Lobby reproductions and will not be priced as such. They are creative, expressive, works of Erin’s heart. Galleries will soon be promoting her work, and I am more than ecstatic to have her pieces gracing the walls of Burlap & Lace!
On the day I visited Erin in her studio, I knew I wanted to purchase all that she had available. Above was the last piece I purchased from Erin that day, but the first to share with you here. She calls it “Most Cunning”.
Many things struck me about this piece, the first being that it is entirely finger painted! Erin told me that she painted this during the beginning of the quarantine period of the pandemic, having no foreknowledge when she began of what she would paint. As she swirled her fingers on the canvas, she was meditating on the truth, the fear, the confusion and the heaviness of 2020. That the serpent manifested itself was NOT her plan. As she prayed and painted , she began to see the manifestation of the serpent and was shocked, as she didn’t want to paint something scary. She remembered at once that although Satan is the most cunning of all creatures, yet the promise to every believer in Jesus Christ is that he, the serpent, is under the heel of the believer, and that God is ultimately in control of all that has been happening this Covid year.
This acrylic and mixed medium canvas painting is $895.
The above piece is called “Sanctuary”. How often have you longed for a place of retreat? A place where you could fall on your face and feel no condemnation, no shame, only comfort? Erin found such a place at a time when she was not a believer. Her Catholic grandmother, she remembers vividly, would always take her to church when she was a young child. And although she laughingly (and somewhat fondly) remembers those cathedrals as much “greater” than what she has painted, the portrayal for her was the peace she felt when in that place. It was as if somehow she knew when she was inside the church she was on holy ground. Later, she explains, in some of the darkest times of her life, she would get down on her knees and pray, even though she didn’t believe. Her faith began to grow through those hard times, and she stated that she began to paint a series of church paintings, always white and always bright. Although painted some years ago, I’m so thankful she had this one left for me to purchase! As with most of her pieces, this is an acrylic/mixed medium on canvas. And with all of her canvas paintings, they are perfect stand-alone pieces, or would be stunningly attractive encompassed by a frame of your choosing. This piece sells for $225.
Look closely at this next painting…I had to! It’s called “Love Wins” and is again an acrylic/mixed medium on canvas. When at a local art show, Erin saw a bronze bust with a glass rose coming out of the chest. Erin was drawn to the bust, and explained that at the time, she was going through a divorce, which to her was the equivalence of a huge death that lasted several years. It was during this time that she first began to paint, and to feel her grandmother’s gift of painting being passed on to her. She wanted to paint a rendition of the sculpture she had seen….this is her first bust painting. She indicates that the rose symbolized to her something beautiful….that she was going to recover and come through the darkest time of her life, all the while honoring her Father in heaven and remembering that love ultimately always wins. Thus, the naming of her piece, which sells for $425.
Called “Grateful”, Erin’s most recently painted work came about as an excited, bright, happy and hopeful circumstance occurred in her life….the rental of the art space studio that she now occupies in downtown Brevard. Erin recalled to me such an explosion of joy from her heart over having a designated space in which to do her art. With my own love of flowers, and with the brightness of this work, it will be a favorite to display in my shop. This acrylic/mixed media canvas painting will be offered at $395.
Unlike all the other purchased pieces that day, this gorgeous painting, done on wood, is likely the one that draws me in most to the story behind it. And I might add here, that this is the video clip I hope to put on my IG or FB page soon, so look for it. Erin’s heart speaks so clearly that I really want you to hear her words from her own mouth. But until such a time, I will do my best to recount her story of this painting to you….
Being outside in her yard, setting up her easel, she had a birds eye view of the church that rents her home to her. She unashamedly admits that on that particular day, she was dealing with her own emotions and feelings of anger, frustration and fear. For a long time, she had been praying for a home that no one would be able to take from her. She was angry at her circumstances, afraid of the church and feeling very frustrated as she began to paint. What she felt flowing outward from her heavy heart was nothing like what was unfolding onto the wood before her. Erin very clearly recanted to me how God began to show her that she was to be aware of her feelings, but that she was to let her reflection be one of beauty and light, not darkness and fear. Selling for $795, I might add that when you buy Erin’s art, you are witness to a piece of her heart that is woven into every creation that pours forth from her fingertips, or from her brushes.
There are two more paintings that I walked away from Erin’s studio with that day. Suffice it to say, neither will be seen at Burlap & Lace as they are now gracing the walls of our own home. As you visit Burlap & Lace in 2021, my hope is that you will come to gaze upon these pieces (and hopefully more!), celebrating as I have that something so clearly speaks to your heart that it then becomes a timeless focal piece for your home.
May you be blessed as you spend time in the Reflections of 2020, understanding that God has gifted each of us in different ways. Let’s choose to celebrate those differences as we move into the new year of 2021, sharing what we have to offer with those we meet along our journey.