How Grief Can Inspire You to Create

Art can mean whatever the viewer see's in it, but for me as the artist, there is always an inspiration for why you see what you do on the canvas. 

"He knows my name" sold this past week so I thought I would let you in on the meaning behind the painting for me and how art helped me heal after loss and during a time of depression.

This was one of my first paintings from when I first decided to truly dive into painting on canvas. I don't know if "decided" is the correct word to use, but more so "led".

The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.
— John 10:3-4
He Knows My Name Sheep and Barn Acrylic Painting by Artist Melissa Lewis

My Dad died in August of 2016. I thought that I had grieved accordingly. I mean, my relationship with my Dad was not a healthy functional one. I remember at a young age thinking that my Dad was like a hero.  I remember being a "Daddy's girl" and actually looking forward to when we got to spend time with him every other weekend.

Then I remember it just wasn't that way. He was "sick" (alcoholism and bi-polar disorder) so he began to not be around and when he was it was totally unpredictable.  The Dad I loved, my protector and my safe place, was gone. 

I guess you could say I had daddy issues.  You would be right to say that. I did and still do. So when he died, I didn't grieve the way someone who had a close relationship with their parent would. But it was more that I had to grieve the unrecognized hope I had that he would become my Dad again someday.

"He Knows My Name" Sheep and Barn acrylic painting by artist Melissa Lewis

The following year, last year actually, was one that was hard and lonely. I was walking through depression and had kept a lot of it to myself. I was working through processing all of these emotions with my counselor, thank goodness I had the sense or will to at least do that. But I was keeping God at an arms distance, which of course was part of the depression symptoms and also part of the cause.

I think now that just being rocked to the core about how I felt about my Dad made me scared and unsure of what being in the presence of my real Father would reveal to me. But as much as I kept him away, He never left.

And he reminded me of that over and over during this time with these verses from John.

What a good God we have, y'all. What I always wanted from my Dad I never got. And it hurt and still does. But I have gotten what I needed so much more so from God. My Dad wasn't there for me, whether it was because he couldn't be or didn't want to be, it felt the same. But God... God is there for me even when I try to push him away.

It may surprise you how grief can inspire you to create whether its through painting or some other form of art. But God is the ultimate creator so it makes perfect sense to me that he uses creating as a tool for healing and drawing us back to him. 

I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.
— John 10:14
"He Knows My Name" acrylic sheep painting inspired by scripture by artist Melissa Lewis

"He knows them by name" means this to me... he knows them individually and intimately. They are not anonymous, lost in the flock. He knows me, Melissa, deeply, individually and intimately. This sounds like a Father who knows his child.

"So I sacrifice my life for the sheep" means this... Jesus literally sacrificed his life for me, for Melissa Lewis.  How much love does that take y'all?  A love beyond any understanding for sure. The love of a perfect Father. The love of my Father!

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,
— John 10:27-28