The Creative Journey of a Human Magnolia
Magnolia trees are messy, gorgeous trees. But they're a treasure trove of beauty to a creative. So I like to
imagine “If I were a tree….I’d be a Magnolia”.
So, who is Donna Kaye Compton, what’s her creative journey all about?
Well…..“when I was born…” (NO, don’t leave!….I promise this is the “short” version!)
Each of us has a starting point to our creative journey. “It began in the heart of Father God”. But there is a moment in space and time, on earth, where something happens - a revelation of who we are, of our purpose(s). And that, dear friend, is when God begins to releases even more of His amazing favor - to help us along on our journey.
Is it possible a memory can also be given us - the confirmation/affirmation of our creative journey? Perhaps this memory is God's gift to us. Think about it while I share my first memory and my journey.
My first memory: I’m just a few months old; I see a window over our kitchen sink looking out into a backyard that ended at the train tracks. Everyday a train came by and the conductor would blow the horn for the children.
I saw it all while being rocked in my daddy's arms, looking over his shoulder into the kitchen where my mom stood at the sink, preparing a meal, looking out the window. I don't remember any sounds but I like to believe the train, rumbling by, horn blowing, caught my attention and formed this memory I love so much.
My husband would have insisted I add this: "Donna learned early that if she didn't toot her horn, her horn would go Un-tooted." Well, think about that! A horn found alongside all your stuff (After you're gone) and nobody knows it's story.....they never heard its sound.
Rocking in my dad’s arms, the window, train tracks, and even my hometown, was a prophetic word to my future. Being born in a city that’s part of two states, beginning life in a home along railroad tracks leading out to great and small places - There would always be a willingness to "cross the borders", look beyond the walls, and get “new” revelation to travel further on....and....maybe....(laughter here)...toot my horn for the child inside each of us. The loving arms of my daddy represents my heavenly Daddy…holding me up on His shoulder to see out into the creation He’s made just for me. I believe my mom is the nurturing part of Father God…preparing a banquet for me right at the opening (window) to my future. The rocking chair is God’s comforting me in troubled times.
I have to be real here, after all, isn't that part of writing this? My history with my mom and dad wasn’t all sweet, pleasant times. There was pain, sorrow, anger, and lots of forgiving, but also lots of adventure and fun. It was “life".
My hometown is Texarkana, Texas and Texarkana, Arkansas; hillbilly with cowboy boots!Crossing borders is a part of my heritage: going outside the box.
Artists, singers, musicians, preachers, poets - all part of my heritage. My husband, three children, five of my 7 grand children, two brothers, and several nieces and nephews, are all actively involved in the “arts” through dance, acting, singing, writing, music, photography, cooking. It’s hard to not be a “creative” in this family.
My first memory confirms so much that’s happened in my life. As long as I choose to rely on and be led by Him, I know He is there for me.
I was in my 30’s before I believed I could be “a creative”. A negative experience in 7th grade art class reduced my artistic flow to a trickle for years. At 32 I took a Folk Art class and the dam broke. The next 20 years I painted, sold and taught continually.
Do you hear a “Screeching” sound? 1995 - my art-life came to a halt! I found myself on the floor, weeping…….God showed me how my art had become my idol and identity. I closed up shop until I was given a word by a stranger five years later that God wanted me to “pick up my brushes again and paint”. I’d been doing custom murals and wall/ceiling finishes for two years but not any meaningful unique art.
But when I got my brushes out - I froze! I wanted to paint “for” God! Nothing came! I prayed for and expected a divine vision, an angel holding my hand as I painted. That wasn’t how God wanted it. He wanted me to take the steps to be filled with His Spirit and skilled in my art. He wanted me to break off the old ways, allowing the new to come from deep inside where it had lain dormant since my youth. He wanted relationship with me more than anything and through that, the unique creativity He’d given me would flow. He wanted me to enjoy the journey of discovery with Him - as I discovered Him. And, He wanted us to paint together!
Since I gained that understanding I’ve been living my “childhood” the way it was meant to be lived - He’s given me a new beginning. And, in 2012 the “train” sped up. I began getting more revelation, understanding, and courage.
, Then, on December 26, 2013, I fractured my left arm in three places, (I’m left-handed), and got a concussion causing an issue with my right hand! At first I was devastated, but I knew that more “old” had to go to make room for the “new” anointing. Two weeks after my fall, I realized my recovery time was to get "still", spend more time with Him and He would have me doing things I never thought I could do…like draw and paint with my right hand. But that’s just the beginning.
I produced (right-handed) a line of greeting cards in watercolor. I did not allowed this painful and frustrating issue to stop me from being a creative. Yes, was a Magnolia mess…..but I chose to make it all beautiful. And the fragrance is awesome - because of my deeper relationship with Father.
My train runs through valleys and up mountains; I keep moving and blowing that horn - living life out loud…willing the unique creativity that is me to be a blessing, and, therefore, be blessed.
There’s many miles, turns, valleys and hills yet to travel, and so much to be discovered along the way. My Magnolia tree is blooming.
How about your first memory. I encourage you to explore what yours means to your life. Ask the Lord. Write about it, draw the feeling that comes. I’d love to hear what you discover. Leave a comment below.
As I begin a new season of painting and writing, I have been contemplating two things that influence me. The first is “sound”.
When I enter my studio what am I listening to? Sound affects everyone. It vibrates through the air and into our spirit. We feel emotions: joy, courage, inspiration, sometimes negative emotions. My intention is towards sound that will cause my heart and soul to begin to see color and/or images on the blank canvas before me, or to words that inspire my writing.
Hearing when I see and seeing when I hear. It is classified in the biology of science as “Synesthesia” and is said to occur in only 4% of the population … usually in those active in the creative arts. Personally, I wonder that it might be possible for all of us to have such experiences if we tap into that creative space in us.
One day, I had an experience (a funny one) at a Dairy Queen drive-thru window—I began writing a story based on that in my head and is becoming a book.
I think many have experiences or opportunities for creative expressions, but aren’t allowing it to take seed and become a gift, to ourselves and to others.
My creating visual art comes from hearing and seeing experiences while I am listening to music, watching birds at my feeder, or walking in the rain around my house, seeing the change in trees and plants—new colors shining forth that inspire me to see them on my canvas.
The above photo is of my Oak-leaf Hydrangea that was just beginning to bud. If I had not gone out in the rain, I would never have seen the “metallic” colors in their splendor.
Friends, I sincerely hope you see something in my artwork, in the Realism, as well as the Collage and Abstract, that is seen only by you. That’s always my hope when someone purchases my work—that they have seen a joy-filled memory or head a song they love. Perhaps you’ll begin to intentionally develop that sense of seeing when you hear and hearing when you see … and pondering what creative adventure it might lead you on.
Be sure to read my next blog post. I’m going to share about my Abstract painting.
I have been a creative all my life. Because we moved often, I focused on journaling and poetry during my school years. Years later, in 1981, a friend invited me to take an Americana Folk Art class with her. Learning to paint on wood with acrylics, I had found my entrance into the creative field of art! I began selling my art at local Craft Fairs and large juried events. I taught Folk Art classes, too. I especially loved painting on bentwood boxes. I became active in a national art group where we shared our knowledge with each other and collaborated annually on an artistic piece for charity.
While I was still painting in acrylic, I felt there was more to learn and do with my creative abilities. I met a woman who had a business doing custom faux finishes in homes, on walls, ceilings, fireplaces … everywhere! My world of painting expanded! I eventually branched out into my own business with my daughter. We were known as Heavenly Faux by Kim and Donna. We often received calls from potential clients asking if this was the “Heavenly Foxes”.
We became Faux Finish experts. We did finishes on walls, furniture, and custom built-ins, as well as murals. My brother, Rod, joined us and more business came our way. We did custom work in the annual Parade of Homes. In 2008, the economy went south, and our business shrunk accordingly. We began to do more custom work for homeowners instead of home builders.
In 2012, a friend called to invite me to an artist event in North Carolina. Matt Tommey had begun an annual conference called The Gathering of Artisans. God had called Matt to bring together an army of artisans. That experience changed my life as an artist forever. I grew in my artistic expression and found I loved abstract art. I realized God loved painting “with” me. Every painting began with worship and expressing my heart on canvas. I had entered a new season of art.
Then, in 2015, my husband and best friend of 37 years passed away suddenly. He was the biggest supporter of my artful journey, and I miss him very much.
In 2017, I joined Matt Tommey’s Created To Thrive Mentoring Group online and began to attend the Gathering of Artisans and other events in North Carolina. The Mentoring group has brought together artists from all over the world. The friendships established have been very important to my growth as an artist.
Recently, I’ve begun creating in media of cold wax & oil and collage. I’ve also brought back painting on bentwood and other specialty wooden boxes. I have plans for these boxes to become gifts for children.
While I love the various media and surfaces I use, my focus is the expression that results from God’s heart intertwined with what He has put into my heart. I hear and see the colors and movement. I desire for my art to be a blessing to those who purchase it. I pray that each piece God and I create together will bless others wherever it is placed—in a home or business. There is a word or story in each of my creative works. For those that purchase, it has a word or story for them.
Next time, I will share about the two books I am writing. Yes, those days of writing poetry and journaling have come back to visit me. I give all credit to God for any way I bless you and others with what He has put in my hand to do.
I'm getting excited as the day approaches (February 2, 2018) to move into my new home and get my art studio set up. I'm dreaming of what it will look like. I'll post "Before" and "After" photos in a blog. I'm going to paint the walls a washable color but not sure what color....Any ideas? Neutral tone for sure and won't darken my room. I have one window so I'll be adding a "natural light" bulb to my ceiling light. I have task lighting to help out too.
Not having my studio, my creative time is few and far between...I did soak and bleach some driftwood for a project, and, preparing for the worship painting I'll be doing in February down in Edna, Texas (way down south towards Houston. Hoping to get some video of that to show you...or you could come on down....REAL conference, at the Country Cowboy Church in Edna, TX...
I'll be back soon.....
Inspiration - The act of drawing air into the lungs; to infuse into the mind; suggest ideas. A divine influence directly/immediately exerted upon the mind or soul.
British dictionary: stimulation of the mind, feelings, etc, to special or unusual activity or creativity.
1275-1325; Middle English/Late Latin
Serendipity - an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
1754 (but rare before 20c.), coined by Horace Walpole (1717-92) in a letter to Horace Mann; he said he formed it from the Persian fairy tale "The Three Princes of Serendip," whose heroes "were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of." The name is from Serendip, an old name for Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka)…
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary does not define this word. But here is a related word:
Serenity: clearness and calmness; quietness; peace; stillness
All of us have been inspired: “I was so inspired as I walked through the art gallery - I’m going to begin painting.” or “the teaching I heard today so inspired me to consider how I respond to negative feedback.”
And many have had the moments of serendipity. “I went out on a rainy day to take photos of trees. There I came upon the most beautiful buds on my Hydrangea plant that had brilliant gem-colors. It was the discovery of the day!”
I love the contrast of these two words. They are, however, also synonymous in that the discovery of a beautiful photo op - quite by accident - inspired me to begin collecting photos of budding plants in the rain to inspire the colors in painting scenery.
While I am looking to be inspired, I also want to inspire you to be open to moments of serendipity that will inspire you. You may not even be looking for inspiration but in a serendipitous moment you “spring forward into suddenly's of creativity.
As I’m beginning a new work of abstract on canvas I spend time reflecting on what I’ve been drawn to in nature, in music, etc. I also draw from where I am spiritually. There have been times my painting represents celebration, a releasing, or a promise. Hope and Joy are two themes I love putting on canvas. These are all what I consider to be my “first brush-stroke”. Then comes the color(s). Sometimes it becomes the base for other colors applied on top. I paint very few abstracts that I see the finish from the beginning. Each layer, each color, each direction of the brush is a dance that I’ve never danced before.
I don’t usually finish a work in one session or even one day. I have to let layers dry of course, but even then I am willing to give a painting some time to grow on me in the stage its in…then I’ll see a place on the canvas or in my heart that says “start here, with this color and….” and I do. The science of a painting is that it becomes a language. Leonardo saw painting as supreme among the sciences. A language is born when a painter’s hand takes the brush knowing it his mind and soul directing the strokes.
The artist's eye sees what his heart is saying and expresses it visually.
About the Title
While we usually center on the "main thing" in life we also need to be aware of the peripheral elements of where we in life. In this painting, you can center in on the lighter spaces in the middle but take time to let your eyes rest around the perimeter of the art. It brings a whole new view to your perspective.
I begin my paintings with a fresh gesso on the canvas, followed up by a 2 hour drying time. My process involves doing layers of textured colors, ending up with a drip process across selected areas of the canvas.