One of the first trips my family and I made after moving to North Carolina was to the charming coastal city of Beaufort (“Bo-fort,” rather than “Bu-furd” as in another lovely town in neighboring South Carolina). On our first morning there I was stunned by the Lord’s colorful palette in creating this area of our Carolina coastline. Shafts of light appeared in the indigo distance, piercing the sea air and diffusing into a mélange of hues. Some light escaped the main beam, shimmering on the water like a million striped mullet dancing to their own tune. The light appeared to the eye on a spectrum from a blinding silver to smooth buttercream. We used to reside in a marsh area, near Savannah, so I was interested in the subtle differences I noted in the marsh around Taylor’s Creek.
Later in the morning, my wife, son, and I journeyed by boat to see the wild horses at the Rachel Carson Reserve. It was a wonderful introduction to what has become a great fascination for me: the long and diverse history of the Tar Heel State. The land of my forefathers is now our home. So I paint the scenes around us.
I rendered this painterly vista from memory and from the aid of a photograph that I saw (but without marshes). I believe the photo was in Our State magazine (my favorite), but I am not sure. Probably.
Perhaps, one day I will paint the horses, or boats, or some part of the famed Colonial town. For now, though, I will indulge my happy recollections with humble, impressionistic reflections of the sky, the sea, the marsh, and the intense colors of that morning.
As I reminisced about our holiday visit and the grandeur of our picturesque village by the sea, I imagined that I sensed the salty sea air, warmed by the forenoon sun, touching my face; a welcoming warmth to Beauford’s chilly, early-morning breeze. I lived with the painting for about an hour or so. Prayers and images from the past blended on my spirit, like pigment and linseed oil on canvas, conceiving a tranquil meditation. Later in the evening, I decided to return to the picture to name it. I intended to keep the epithet simple. I named the little piece, “Morning near Beaufort, North Carolina.”
Envisioning brindled memories brought a quiet peace. Peace breathed forth prayer and prayer easily became praise. If some of my Spirit-crafted encounters were infused into a line, a form, a color, or an impression, then I will be satisfied.
Art, whether music or sculpture, painting, drawing, or drama, is a reflection of the greater glory, the original beauty of God’s creation. So, I turn to the Savior, now, to offer this humble expression as my gift (as a friend put it to me, “like a child presenting a coloring-book picture to his Father”). The morning painting recalls a morning prayer, an ode to God’s grace, amidst unceasing dangers. Thus, David:
“Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you” (Psalm 143:8 NLT).
The art is finite, but the object of meditation is eternal. The artist will die, but the only actual Creator, Christ Jesus, is alive forever. Beyond the sapphire skies of Beaufort, and the azure seas of the Carolina coastline, there lies an eternal home. The longing for that home is in you and me. Let the hunger lead you to the Lord, who has painted eternity in our hearts. Trust in Him. Give yourself to Him. Then, you will walk with purpose. And you will see colors in the sky that you have never seen before.
Pete Snyder says
Mike, I am amazed at your ventures into so many areas of talent. Beautiful writing about the painting! I have struggled with too many areas of talent, being spread too thin, heading off in too many directions and not getting enough depth to make a significant difference. But, at least I’ve stuck with teaching 4th grade boys Sunday School – 32 years and counting. I’m interested in your painting endeavors, as I’ve decided I would rather do that than architecture. But, I’m still doing limited work in architecture. I don’t have an artist’s website set up, yet, but I’m looking into FASO, Fine Art Studios Online. You can see some of my artwork on my Facebook architectural page, Peter Snyder Architect. I do appreciate your encouragement to look into Dr. B.M. Palmer. He is really fascinating.
I would like to send you an article about the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and a new set of words I’ve written for the same tune. I’d like your critical reaction and a suggestion of how to proceed. Keep up the painting as well as your music. There are a lot of parallels in art, as you know.
PS – Our daughter, Sarah Snyder Barron, enjoyed spending time with you at a recent ARP conference.
Dr. Michael Milton says
Thank you Pete! I am in your debt for continuing to teach young boys the gospel. My son is now at Erskine Seminary both as a student and he is a full-time employee as assistant director of online learning. As you will recall he also was in your class. Yes, it was wonderful seeing your daughter last summer. I believe that I saw her again recently had an event where I spoke but I did not get to speak with her. I am glad to hear about your pursuit in art. I will look forward to seeing your work. That website sounds like a good place for artists to be. The Lord bless you and keep you dear friend.