Visit the Abbey of the Arts online retreat platform to access your programs:

Abbey Bookshelf (pre-Advent edition)

Advent begins a week from today and it is one of my favorite liturgical seasons in the Christian tradition.  Advent begins the new church year and is a season about waiting, preparing, and birthing.  It also occurs at one of my favorite times of year, this slow descent toward winter and the solstice.  This autumn was beautiful in the Northwest, and I kept thinking maybe it was my favorite season, but these last couple of weeks the trees are revealing in their essence again and those bare branches and the sun low in the sky make my heart dance (and I realize some of you think I am crazy!).

I’ve already received a few email requests for books I recommend for Advent.  My absolute favorite is Night Visions by Jan Richardson.   I have long loved Jan’s work and her combination of art and text and in her book about Advent she really helps to celebrate the darkness.  You have to order it directly from her website though, as it is only available as very expensive used copies through Amazon.  The other book I like is The Vigil: Keeping Watch in the Season of Christ’s Coming by Wendy Wright.

After finishing my week of teaching I ordered two books that arrived yesterday in the mail.  I have fallen in love with Mixed Emulsions: Altered Art Techniques for Photographic Imagery by Angela Cartwright. I came home yesterday evening and was going to do some work, but started flipping through the pages. This book is filled with all kinds of wonderful ideas for ways to use tools like hand coloring photos and altering them with gesso and molding paste to include them in a mixed media artwork. It inspired me to spend the rest of the evening sifting through some old photos. For the last few weeks I have been sorting through three large plastic bins I have of photos from my mother’s and father’s sides of the family. This is part of some work I am doing about my ancestry and in Bowen Theory (family systems theory). I have some marvelous vintage photos of relatives I am going to scan and make art with.

The other book which I haven’t looked through as closely, but also looks great and filled with creative ideas is Journal Revolution: Rise Up and Create! Art Journals, Personal Manifestos and Other Artistic Insurrections by the same women who also wrote the marvelous Visual Chronicles: The No-Fear Guide to Creating Art Journals, Creative Manifestos and Altered Books.  Wonderful inspiration for those of you who want to try some visual journaling or infuse your practice with some new inspiration.

I have decided that for Advent I am going to commit to a practice of trying to do some kind of new art each day.  I have been so busy this last month preparing to teach others to use the arts, that now it is time to dive more deeply again into my own creative process, and use Advent as a container to bring new things to birth.  I have so many craft books, my commitment is to try new processes as well, to see what else I can do with my photos.  Anyone want to join me?

Remember to come back tomorrow for our next Poetry Party!

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

You might also enjoy

Monk in the World Guest Post: Janeen R. Adil

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series. Read on for Janeen Adil’s reflection and poem about liminality. Thresholds and doorways make for evocative images; as a monk in the world, I am drawn to a

Read More »

Preparing for Advent + Prayer Cycle Day 7

Dear monks, artists, and pilgrims,  Today we share the final two audio podcasts of our 7-day prayer cycle on the theme of The Love of Thousands. The theme for morning is on ancestral earth and deep time, honoring that our ancestors are not just our human

Read More »

Monk in the World Guest Post: Susan Blagden

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Susan Blagden’s contemplative photographs and poems inspired by the work of Thomas Merton. As a contemplative photographer, coach and priest, I seek

Read More »

15 Responses

  1. Thank you for the book recommendations, Christine. I’ve just ordered Jan’s book.

    Crazy about November — me too.
    Advent artistic explorations — I’d love to join you on your explorations but this time I’ll just watch, admire and learn.
    Baby pic — I think you probably have cibachrome in your DNA. And is that a poem in your left hand?

  2. Great lucy! So glad you are joining me.

    No problem Sally! :-)

    Sue, I can really appreciate the physical response and how that affects people, in part because I think I have the opposite problem — reverse SAD which I discovered is actually a verified condition.

    Suz — art, crafts, however you call it, you are more than welcome to join! I’d love to see what you put together.

    great chartreuseova, it would be fun to have some parallel projects and share ideas if you feel inspired.

  3. I’d been thinking of art for Advent and several boxes of completely unsorted family photos I’ve been meaning to explore. Not sure where this will lead, but you’ve given me some things to consider.

  4. Wow! That photo was a portent of things to come.

    I may join you in your art after my jewelry show on the first…but I call mine “crafts”!

  5. “… these last couple of weeks the trees are revealing in their essence again and those bare branches and the sun low in the sky make my heart dance (and I realize some of you think I am crazy!”

    No, mate, I don’t think you’re crazy at all. I just think you understand the value of the darkness and of waiting and reseeding. If my weird body didn’t have such a need for extra light that it gets depressed around the winter solstice and I’m just hanging for longer days, then I think I would love it too. Enjoy :)

  6. count me in on the art…once a week sounds great, but i love the idea of simple experiments paving the way.
    i have already ordered my jan richardson book and hope it arrives this week sometime.
    thank you for being the inspirational source that you are…i am wondering if there is a pun in there somewhere, but i can’t quite see it :-)

  7. Tess, I had to go back to see what you were referring to and I was confronted with my terrible pun there at the end — I think it makes it even worse that I was unaware of writing that! :-)

    Glad to have you join me in Art for Advent. Once a week sounds great! And my daily exercise will include some very simple experiments as well as stages toward a bigger piece.

  8. Er, were you exposed to terrible puns as well as well as to cameras and film?
    I would love to join you in trying some kind of new artwork each day, but I know I won’t be able to keep it up. Perhaps once a week. It sounds like a wonderful challenge.