“Some of the most beautiful things come to pass only by following a long winding road. Today, it is my joy to share one of those beautiful occurrences with you.” — Lancia E. Smith, Founder and Executive Director of Cultivating Magazine
Long desired and laboured over, last year we officially unveiled a new role in Cultivating: “Artist-in-Residence,” with author and illustrator Amy Grimes. We are deeply and delightfully inspired by her paintings and new children’s books, and we’ve shared book reviews, interviews, and meditations inspired by Amy’s good work with our readers.
A leisurely time spent with Amy in her studio is a perfect pairing with a warm summer day, even if our visit is virtual. Click on the link in each passage to read our essays and interviews with Amy. Pour yourself a cold glass of sweet tea and join Cultivating as we savor some time amidst the paints, palettes, and canvases and get a glimpse of the magic and light Amy shares with us.
“Amy’s body of work is consistently marked by her distinctive style and high standards…Taken as a whole, it is its own world, to which the viewer is kindly invited to enter and linger. That world from edge-to-edge sings of goodness, and light overcoming the darkness. Every twinkling star and shining moon, every sun, every sparkling cloud, and stalwart tree, every merry beast large or small, bravely and kindly bears witness to the Light.” — Lancia E. Smith
Amy’s work embodies what the makers in our fellowship strive for: Cultivating Whole Lives Rooted in Christ.
Amy’s paintings are inspired by stories that she writes. She believes that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17) As she says on her website, “I have a habit of looking for those gifts, those flecks of light, and I find so many of them in stories. Often, when I’ve felt the darkness drawing near, a good story has revived me, confronted me with my own flaws, and stirred my courage. I believe stories are uniquely suited to deliver truth, hope, and light to people’s hearts and minds. The words I write and the illustrations I create flow from this belief. I want to send as many flecks of light into the darkness as I can — to encourage people, to help them hold fast to hope and remind them that they are not alone.”
During 2020, Cultivating readers were blessed by several of her paintings comprising a series named “Lighting Candles By Starlight.” Amy tells us that when she feels the darkness pressing in and anxiety welling up, whether it’s because of suffering in the life of a friend or her own life, she remembers that God “is the only safe place for my hope to rest. He’s the only source of powerful and steady light.”
Amy recently illustrated Ann Voskamp’s beautiful children’s book Your Brave Song. This story is filled with encouragement for all of us, not just the young. We read in I Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” We teach children their worth in God’s eyes by telling stories like Jesus did in his ministry. The parables infuse the imagination and embed truth into heart and soul. Your Brave Song helps us all to draw courage from our own experiences and from the sweet story of Una, who remembers where her bravery comes from.
“There would be days when the special, tender parts of her one brave heart would get hurt. But on those days there was a bigger song within her that was louder than any lies, a song that was stronger than any sadness. And Una Rayne sang it back to the world every night like a gift: Jesus loves you, makes you strong. In Him you’re brave and you belong. — Ann Voskamp, Your Brave Song, illustrated by Amy Grimes.
“None of us know what our story will look like. We’re not all going to create world famous brands even if we try to. Most of us don’t even want to. But why not celebrate the movement toward wonderful, beautiful ideas in whatever form that movement takes? The movement! Not just the outcome! The movement toward writing a book, for instance, looks like sitting down, opening the computer, and typing sentences. And even if, at end of the writing session, you erase every word you wrote…that was still one hour of reaching. Way to go! You did it! It was an hour that was going to be spent on something anyway because you can’t store up hours and save them for a rainy day. They have to be used. They will be used! Why not use them to reach and then choose to value that use of time?” — Amy Grimes
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17)
“I often paint pictures with the direct intention to ‘declare the excellencies of Him who has brought me out of the darkness and into His marvelous light.’ But when it comes to other people interpreting my artwork, I trust God with that mystery.” — Amy Grimes.
There is the old adage that “a picture is worth 1,000 words,” but to be able to communicate hope, strength, beauty, and faith through the crafting of words and making of transcendent images is a gift! An artist and wordsmith must be able to blend pigments to achieve the perfect color and choose the precise word to convey meaning. Imagination is such a holy gift!
“Every creative journey is full of beginnings. There’s not this one beginning and then a middle and an end. And no matter who you are, or what creative things you’ve done or not done, you’ve already been through lots of beginnings yourself. And there are no endings to this journey, so that makes the ‘middle’ an oxymoron…Just like every morning brings a new day — creativity begins afresh too. So wherever you are, just begin. You’re not behind. You’re not too late. You’re just beginning again. It’s what all artists do.” — Amy Grimes
“God knows everything. You don’t know your whole story but He does. And He offers to hold your hand, and my hand. That makes risk bearable. Because no matter what, whether my efforts fail or succeed in the eyes of those around me, I’m safe. You’re safe. Even when we stumble. When that verse says, ‘he won’t be hurled headlong,’ I believe it means that God offers the comfort of His presence and it is a comfort that’s more powerful than anything else that will come your way.” — Amy Grimes
The images of Amy and her studio are by her husband Russ Grimes and used with permission for Cultivating.
Annie Nardone is a bibliophile, author, and adventurer who seldom travels with a map because joy is discovered in the journey! Inspired byExodus 31:1-5, she believes that, like Bezalel, we are gifted by God with “ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship” to create as a reflection of our Creator God. Her sincere belief is in the reintegration of the arts with the Christian imagination, guiding people to train their eyes and minds to see holiness in everyday life.
She holds a MA in Cultural Apologetics from Houston Christian University, and is a Fellow with the C.S. Lewis Institute. Annie writes for Cultivating, Literary Life, and Clarendon House Books, and is a managing editor and writer for An Unexpected Journal. Annie collaborated on three books in 2022, published by Square Halo Books and The Rabbit Room. She recently designed a curriculum detailing the intersection of theology, the arts, and history and is a Master Teacher for HSLDA. She resides in Florida with her Middle Earth/Narnia/Hogwarts-loving family, and an assemblage of sphynx cats and feline foundlings.
A Field Guide to Cultivating ~ Essentials to Cultivating a Whole Life, Rooted in Christ, and Flourishing in Fellowship
Enjoy our gift to you as our Welcome to Cultivating! Discover the purpose of The Cultivating Project, and how you might find a "What, you too?" experience here with this fellowship of makers!