Lessons in an Art Gallery

Untitled- Emily Carr
Untitled by Emily Carr

There was a hush on the fourth floor of the Vancouver Art Gallery as we entered, almost a reverence, I thought. People meandered quietly through the halls and rooms, taking time to study the paintings on the walls and read the commentaries and quotes from the artist’s journals. As I joined them I was aware of my own sense of awe. Emily Carr was an artist I had admired since I was a child. Her work always made me pause, drew me in, made me aware of something beyond myself.

The quotes on the walls captured my attention as well. This woman, who is famous in my own country and beyond for her depiction of the west coast region of Canada, was a woman of faith, struggling to comprehend the greatest mystery there is – the deep, deep love of an all-encompassing God.

Emily Carr’s work depicts that struggle, that striving to faith, that longing to comprehend that which is unknown yet deeply sensed. The first quote visitors to the Vancouver Art Gallery saw as they entered the exhibit was “Art is Worship.” Ms. Carr worshipped with every stroke of her brush, the swirling movement in her work drawing the eye up toward the heavens. A painting labelled Untitled, one of my favourites, is especially strong. The artist’s love of creation and its creator shouts from the canvass.

Emily Carr saw the divine in the deep dark forests of British Columbia and in the work of others, especially some members of the Group of Seven who welcomed her as one of their own. She was dumbfounded, while at an exhibit of their work, to see one of Lawren Harris’s paintings, Mountain Forms, ignored even by a priest. “Surely he would understand,” Ms. Carr wrote in her journal, “Wouldn’t the spirituality of the thing appeal to one whose life was supposed to be given up to these things? He passed right by …”

I understand Ms. Carr’s frustration. So much that is redemptive in this world goes unnoticed at best, scorned and ridiculed, at worst. Yet those things that draw us all closer to our creator are enduring. Mountain Forms was recently auctioned for just over eleven million dollars.

As I wandered in that gallery that day I was not only stirred by how Emily Carr drew us to the Divine through her work but by the recognition that we can all do the same, whatever our field of endeavour. We have all been created to express praise and adoration through everything we do, whether we work in oils or with words, whether we sweep floors or design buildings, whether our work is recognized or ridiculed. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters … It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23,24).

I was also struck by the reality that Ms. Carr caused me to praise and worship without saying a word. There was no banner declaring “Jesus saves” scrawled across her paintings yet we are able to stand in the midst of those deep dark forests and worship with her. It made me wonder, does my art cause people to worship? Does it cause them to ponder the depth of God’s greatness and goodness? Does it glorify Him? Walking among Emily Carr’s paintings made me pray it may be so.




I Am Not a Writer

Light on the Path

For many years, indeed, for as long as I can remember, my identity has been totally and inextricably bound up in being a writer. It’s not just what I am, I told myself, it’s who I am. Sadly, over the years, that perception led me to a place that was filled with stress and burden. In fact, it became like a prison in a way, a prison of my own making.

Today I am declaring (with thanks to Ted Dekker), that no, indeed, I am not a writer. Every time those words enter my consciousness I feel the chains fall away. I don’t have to produce. I don’t have to publish. I don’t have to succeed. It is not who I am.

I am, in fact, a daughter of my Father in Heaven, the King of this universe who demands nothing of me but that I accept His forgiveness, return His love and let that love flow through me to others.

Yes, I believe He has given me the task of writing as a means to spread that love and a way to discover more and more about Him myself, but writing is what I do, not who I am. It’s all a matter of perspective. When my perspective is correct, I am free to be who I was meant to be and then to do what I was meant to do with joy and a sense of freedom. When my perspective is not correct, what I do becomes a chore – I worry about marketing and sales instead of praying for the hearts and minds of my readers; I fear not being able to produce the work I should (the blank page terrifies me); when someone points out a mistake in a published piece I feel humiliated; when my work is rejected I become depressed; when I don’t win a contest or award I become angry and cynical.

Yes, I admit, all of these things were happening to me. I knew these feelings were wrong, I struggled against them, but I couldn’t deny they were real. And all of it was beginning to crush my creativity. It became a struggle to produce. The joy was being bled away.

So, it may seem like a counter-productive thing to do, but I have decided to declare this statement to myself every morning when I sit down at my computer: I am not a writer. I am the daughter of my Father in Heaven who loves me. Nothing else matters. When those words have sunk deep into my soul, then, and only then, will I write.

So, will you join me?

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22,23).

Writers’ Process Blog Tour


Thanks for following from Carolyne Aarsen’s blog.

1. Who are you?

Laycock-MarciaMy name is Marcia Lee Laycock. I am a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters who are all beautiful like their father and talented like their mother. 🙂 I am also the caregiver to two golden retrievers who mostly lie around all day. Oh and a writer/author/novelist/poet/journalist and devotional writer, not necessarily in that order. Above all I am a child of Christ, born somewhere on the road to Mayo, Yukon in 1982. That day changed my life forever.



2. What are you working on?

At the moment I’m doing a final edit on the second book of a fantasy series, The Ambassadors, which has been releasing in volumes on Amazon as ebooks. The entire first book will release on August 27th and the first volume of Book Two will release on Sept. 4th. I am also writing the third book and doing a course in playwriting with Lucia Frangione, which I am enjoying very much.


3. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

My first two novels were contemporary fiction. They both have strong elements of suspense and a touch of romance. I’d say they differ from others in that they are, to quote Mark Buchanan, who has endorsed my work, “grimly real but deeply hopeful.”


4. Why do you write what you do?

I can’t not write. I have been doing it since I was very young – my mother used to say she thought I was born with a pencil in my hand because I was always “scribbling something or other.” I have been blessed to have many wonderful teachers and encourager along my journey and really can’t imagine doing anything else as my life’s career. Specifically, I write fiction because I believe that story is important to us all. It keeps us tied together and it keeps us moving forward. My first two novels began with a conversation I had with a woman from a pregnancy care centre. She asked me a question that just wouldn’t go away until I tried to answer it on the pages of those books. I write devotional material because I seem to continually see things in my life and in things/people around me that point to the grace and mercy of Jesus. When I see it I can’t not write it down.


5. How does your writing process work?

I am a “seat-of –the-pants writer. I don’t outline until I get into the thick of the story, then I might stop and do a bit of a timeline and sketchy outline. I love that process because it keeps me on the edge of my seat, wondering what’s going to happen. I figure if I’m there my readers will be too, and that keeps them reading. Right now, because I am working on more than one project at once, I do have to try and schedule my time well, setting out time to work on each one. I write mostly in the mornings but sometimes I will find myself at the computer for a good portion of the day. Those are good days.

Click this link to see my books. All are available on Amazon, at Christian bookstores (distributed by Ingram) or by contacting me personally at the email listed.

Now click this link to visit the next author on the tour.