Wild Words . . . Photos & Fine Art

Co-creating by heart with sandy cathcart through writers helps and art info, focusing on all things wild.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Steve Hopkins Message to Artists and Writers - Part IX

Today, Steve is continuing on the idea of using our gifts.

Point One cautioned us to be patient but persistent with our pastors. A lot of folks have given me suggestions and I will be sharing those at the end of the entire series.

Point Two explained the need to be persistent but patient with our pastors.

Today he tells us to think local:


Your first focus should be upon the local community.

Too many artists eye the artistic Mecca’s of this world as the goal of their careers.

Too many Christian artists are no longer oriented to the local Christian community. Instead, they have their eyes set on Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Nashville, or wherever the elite of their particular discipline congregate.

Chico Holiday was a Las Vegas singer turned gospel singer. He played big venues and small venues like Half Way, Oregon. One day, he did a concert where there were 15 or 20 people. A young man approached him saying, “Yeah, I’m a musician. I like…,” and he listed off a bunch of names. “And I don’t play this little funky town. I’m waiting until I get to Nashville.”

Chico’s response was great. He said, “You know something son? You say you’re too good for this town, but let me tell you something, it took me 20 years to get to play this town.”

Because artists, especially the younger ones, have big aspirations they are left without mentors and teachers. God may have a niche for you at the top, but don’t forget to minister along the way to getting there.

Look at the great artists of the past like J.S. Bach and Rembrandt. These men did not go about seeking stardom. They pursued their craft patiently and quietly, blooming where God had planted them. They did not really attain their fame until years after their deaths. These were Christian artists in the true sense of the term—not merely because of the excellence of their work, but because of the way they approached their craft and carried themselves.

So, the first course of action for the Christian artist who wishes to find a place in his church is: Focus your artistic energies on your local church and community.


Wow! Now, that’s not the word I expected to hear. In fact, it may take a good deal of imagination to figure out a way to focus our art on our local church and community. But isn’t that what being an artist is all about? Using our imagination?

I’m part of an artist forum made up mostly of Christian cartoonists. I think that’s great! A visual way of portraying the gospel. I also know Jeff, a musician (one of the members of the Daryl Mansfield band), who started making tee-shirts with Christian messages on them. Basically he turned his lyrics into a visual message!

I just returned from the Oregon Christian Writers Conference where I took a class on illustrating picture books. I learned that it is pretty hard for a new artist to break into the illustrating world. What if I did a large format picture book to be used with the children in my church? And who knows? Perhaps I would have something marketable in the end, but even if I didn’t, it would be satisfying to know that my project had an impact on someone’s life.

I met Pat, a young woman, at the conference who has been making the most awesome greeting cards…so imaginative and personal and uplifting and encouraging…I wanted to buy every one of them. She started out local and is now pursuing greater challenges. She didn’t wait for the big time to get her work out there.

I’ve done the same with my photo cards. Starting out small and seeing where it goes. There’s a lot of satisfaction in that kind of ministry. For instance, on the way home from the conference, driving by myself, I began nodding asleep at the wheel. A motel room seemed out of the question because of my meager finances, so I prayed for an affordable place. I pulled off the freeway and began looking, but every motel parking lot in the town was full of party revelers. So, I started praying for an affordable, safe place.

No more than ten miles down the freeway, I discovered a tiny motel out in the boonies. I pulled into the parking lot and stopped and prayed. Was this really a safe place?

Turned out to be safe and affordable. 28 bucks! Run by an Hispanic husband and wife team. Clean, comfy, and I slept on a bed as soft as a pillow. Ummmmm.

So, I left them one of my most popular small, framed photos as a thank you the next morning.

Who at your church would be blessed with one of your paintings/drawings?

And if you’re a writer, there are ways to use your writing without waiting for the big time as well. I wrote a little book called, Songs in The Night, years ago before I knew a thing about writing. I typed it on stencils, ran off 200 copies on a mimeograph (most of you probably don’t even know what that is), hand folded it, then took it down to be stapled and trimmed.

I gave that little book to anyone I thought might like it.

It was embarrassing at first, because the book was a story about my life, how my husband and I raised our five children in a home with no electricity or running water and where we had to park a half mile from our house, how we met each other when I was a bartender, and how God grabbed our lives and turned us around. So it was like, “Here. Read a book about myself.”

Yeah right.

But people did take the book. And finally I had given out all 200 copies. Then someone else decided they would like to make 300 books for me. They gave me the 300 books along with the typeset pages. I gave all those out, and some folks gave me a couple of dollars for the book, so I turned that around and made 200 more copies. Over the years I gave out 700 copies of that little book. Then a few years ago a woman’s group wanted copies after having me come as a guest speaker, so they took one of my books and made copies and gave them out.

I’ve never made the big time with that book! I’ve never even made any money other than turning it into more books.

BUT I’ve received letters from all over the world from people saying how much that little book impacted their lives. A letter from a missionary in Africa. A letter from a teenager in Texas who said something in the book touched her life and made her decide to return home. Letters from men in the county jail. Letters from firefighters, mill workers, and teachers. A recent phone call from a woman who said she found it in a used book store and just had to tell me how much it meant to her!

Goodness! None of my “published” articles or stories ever had that much impact.

I started out local and small, but God took it all over the world.

Where can you start? Pray about it. Be imaginative. Try some things.


At 7:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow that is so cool I like that idea for what you have done .
your blog is cool and gives me so many idea's
Debbie Rempel


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