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  • Writer's pictureKaren Lembo

Two Are Better Than One

I recently won first place for this painting in the Salisbury Art Space's April show "New Beginnings." The judge told me her eye was immediately drawn to the couple in the shadows. She appreciated how the idea of this young couple just starting out with the sun rising behind them embodied the theme "new beginnings." She also really liked the textures.

I'm really happy for this recognition and for this interpretation of this image, which makes a lot of sense. But sometimes it's nice to know "the rest of the story," as commentator Paul Harvey used to say.

In reality, the couple seen here is me and one of my sweet praying partners. We've been praying each other through the past 15 years of marriage, child rearing, elderly parents and other challenges. We both know without a doubt that two are better than one: "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor" (Ecclesiastes 4:9). While we can certainly pray alone, Jesus promised, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:19-20) I painted this in part to testify to the power and blessing of having a praying friend.

The contrast between the light and shadows and the colors they created caught my eye and I snapped just one photo before we set out on our walk. As I began the subsequent painting, I grabbed some pine needles and glued them to the canvas, then covered them with tissue, then covered most of the canvas with dark values to create some interesting textures for the colors and shadows to play with.

At this point, the painting started to remind me of a forest I had recently hiked in central Florida. It had experienced a controlled burn, because rangers know this can help prevent devastating wild fires. As I added the light to this canvas, I began connecting the growth that comes from the pain of various trials with the growth that emerges from devastation. Sometimes God has to do a "controlled burn" in our lives for new growth to emerge. This resonated with my current circumstances and lightened my spirit.

I'm truly fascinated by the process and the connections this painting made for me, between what was going on in my everyday life and the intuitive way it became expressed in this painting.

I've been painting a series of "paths" in this new year, and it seems that, although we don't know exactly where we're going, if we let Him, God will shape the path, often using various trials and challenges, to bring forth beautiful things that bless us and bring glory to Himself.

And now you know "the rest of the story."

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