Wednesday, 11 October 2017 16:28

Barbara Davis, Fine Artist

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Meet local artist Barbara Davis as she shares her journey of choosing art as a career, uncertainties and blessings included.

RRJ:  Barbara, you grew up in a Christian home with a large, loving family.  How would you say that “foundation” grew your faith in God?


Barbara:  I think of my dear father who passed away in January 2015.  God blessed us with a daddy who loved us unconditionally; was strong and yet gentle; expected good behavior, but showed mercy; patient beyond belief.  There was never a day when I doubted his love for me, and I think that helped develop my faith in the love God has for His children. 


He had Alzheimer’s disease for many years before it took his life, and I saw that foundation of faith being “lived out” in my family as my mother cared for him and we all dealt with the things that a disease like that can throw your way. The security that my big and loving family provided me during those years, and all my life, reflected the love of Jesus and the family of God. 



RRJ:  You mentioned that although you accepted Jesus as your savior and were baptized at 8 years old, it wasn’t until your college years that you really felt saved.  What brought you to that understanding?


Barbara:  I was active in church and Bible study, but nagged with a feeling of guilt.  Was I good enough? Had I ever crossed the line that would exclude me from eternal life in heaven with God?  Was there an ‘unforgivable sin’ and, if so, what was it? Had I committed it?  Then while reading through Romans one day, Romans 4:14 grabbed me! It said, “For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless.”  So, if I depend on good works for my salvation, then the promise of Jesus means nothing.  By the Holy Spirit, God showed me it is by grace alone, faith alone, in Christ alone, that has the power to save. It was like blinders came off and everything made sense. I truly felt the lines of “Amazing Grace” – “I was blind, but now I see!”



RRJ:  God often uses people in our lives to inspire and encourage us.  Can you share who that has been for you and why?


Barbara:  I had a very special teacher in junior high school – Floyd Junior High here in Montgomery. Kathy Belser was my art teacher – a young, vivacious, fun teacher.  She really fueled my interest in art.  Tragically, Miss Belser was killed in a car accident weeks before the end of school in 1979.  I discovered the week after her death that she had turned in my name to receive the art student award the day before she died.  It has meant so much to me.  Not only that, but her death led me to ponder life and death. I was 15 years old and God used that event, I know, to lead me to Him as I considered what our existence even meant.  I feel like it began the “seeking” phase of my spiritual life, and we know He promises in Jeremiah 29:13: “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”



RRJ:  How have you felt God leading you in your career choice?


Barbara:  When I was in college at Auburn University Montgomery, I prayed about my major.  I felt led to major in art, but many people advised me not to.  Many people I looked to for guidance said I would never get a job unless I wanted to teach and, therefore, should major in education if I wanted to pursue art.  I was working at a law firm and thought paralegal studies might be the practical way to go, but the more I sought God’s will in this the more I knew without a doubt He had chosen art for me. I ended up majoring in fine arts with a marketing minor.


I had the desire to be a full-time artist and no idea at all how to achieve it, but I needed an income! I prayed so many times asking God “why did You want me to major in art? Was it more what I wanted and not what You wanted?”


In 1993, I went to a National Portrait Seminar conducted by internationally known portrait artist John Howard Sanden.  After attending, I felt I could really make a living in art. I pursued this as an avocation and ended up painting portraits full-time for a short time.  The timing wasn’t right, though. I wasn’t ready. I was desperate to paint full-time, but it was feast or famine and we needed my income. I went back to the conventional work world a bit daunted, thinking I would give up the idea of ever being an artist.  The love for art that God gave me was still there even though I wanted to ignore it sometimes and just “make a living”.



RRJ:  Things started changing for you the year you turned 40.  What encouragement can you offer those who feel it’s too late to live in the passion that God has given them?


Barbara:  God’s timing is perfect!  I hope I can encourage anyone who feels God is leading them along a certain path – especially a path that seems so illogical or impractical – to trust Him. It can seem scary to pursue an unconventional career, but He has called me and of that I am totally sure.  I have I Thessalonians 5:24 written on my easel – “The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.”  It is my constant assurance that He is with me on this path.


 Are you wondering what your calling is?  I read in The Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado: “Use your uniqueness (what you do) to make a big deal out of God (why you do it) every day of your life (where you do it).”  He says this is your “sweet spot” and the “cure for the common life”. Pursue your calling by God’s grace! He has a place for you, just you...something only you can do!



RRJ:  What tools of the Christian faith do you actively use in keeping your focus on Christ, particularly in your work?


Barbara:  Prayer, of course, that He would lead me and guide me.  I pray that He would use my art in ways I don’t even understand, to bring glory to Himself, and that He would use opportunities, such as this article, to bring glory to Himself. 

God’s creation speaks to us of Him, and I want to worship our Creator through my work, through my art.  His Word concerning His creation and Him as Creator helps to focus my attention on Him, as I use the creative gifts He has given me.



RRJ:  Barbara, you have said that of all the subjects you paint, you find that your heart is always drawn to the skies. Explain why.


Barbara:  Psalm 19:1 says “the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”  I feel so close to God when I am painting the sky. It’s so beautiful, such a gift from God!  We sometimes go through life staring at the bumper ahead of us in traffic or at the sidewalk as we walk.  While I’m not encouraging anyone to not look where they’re going, there’s a great big, beautiful miracle going on up there every single day!

The sky is filled with light and is a reminder of His light. Light is what I want to paint. It makes everything beautiful – a vase of flowers, the landscape, even a dirty old trashcan. I love showing this to my painting students in still life workshops.  I’ll set up a still life that looks just okay, but then, when the spotlight is turned on, you hear ooh’s and aah’s!  You see light and shadow, and suddenly the mundane is beautiful.  It’s a beautiful metaphor, too, for His Light in our lives.



RRJ:  How would you encourage our readers to live out their faith outside of the church walls?


Barbara:  Working to the glory of God is an act of worship.  Whether you’re an artist, a cashier, a waitress/waiter, plumber – whatever – it is worship when you are working to His glory.  Do your best and honor Him with your work and His light will shine through!  He has a place for you and a plan for you.  If you are a ditch digger, you don’t have to put your shovel down and start passing out tracts to bring Him honor.  Dig the best ditch you can by God’s grace, and trust Him to use you and place you where He wants you. He is faithful and HE will do it!



Barbara Davis is married to her husband John and they live in Montgomery.  Barbara is very involved in Bible Study Fellowship and the couple attends Christchurch.


Last modified on Friday, 13 October 2017 07:57
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