For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
This is what Christmas is all about—God’s greatest gift of love to us. We don’t deserve salvation, but it is available nevertheless to all who will receive it.
One of my favorite things about Christmas is the church cantata—a production with music and drama that focuses on some critical life lesson we can learn during this special season. For many years I was privileged to take part in the cantata, most often as either a singer in the choir or as the pianist. But even though those days are gone for me, I still enjoy getting to watch all the hard work others have put into the program each year.
Here is one I’d like to share with you. So this evening, why don’t you cast this production to your television in lieu of your regular program. You will laugh, cry, and consider just what the greatest gift truly is.
Photo taken in the Great Marsh, Virginia Beach, Virginia, 2010
Welcome back to my piano art studio. Today’s feature combines a new-to-me technique with some seemingly hopeless piano pieces.
Learning something new
Rather than play games on my phone, I like to watch YouTube videos to get new ideas for my creative side. For weeks I binge watched about a half dozen different artists using the fluid acrylic painting technique. It was fascinating to see how the colors swirled around on the canvas. To be honest, at first it didn’t much look like “fine art” to me—you, know “anyone could do that”—until I tried it, that is. Getting the consistency right, getting the quantity right, spreading it around without causing the colors to combine, getting it to dry without cracks—all these things take practice. And yes, I’ve had some fails, as I’m sure the YouTubers have too. There is a learning curve, but it’s true that it’s a more attainable form of art than, say, portrait painting.
Oops! What now?
When I opened one of the pianos that were donated to me, I discovered that nearly all the felts had popped off the hammer cores. Most manufacturers staple them in place, but some use only glue, and glue does not hold up well to heat and high humidity. At first I thought I’d try to glue them back down, but then I found that the felts had also shrunk, since they had evidently been in this sad state for quite a while. So, I had no choice but to finish removing the felts from the hammers.
This left me with a lot of pieces I’d never used before. But given enough time, I found a use for them. To begin with, I cut the cores off the hammer shanks, cut the shanks off the butts, then sanded all the rough edges. The butts went into one drawer for future use, and the shanks went into another.
Then I turned my attention to the cores, and I discovered that they are not all the same size. The ones with ‘fat’ felts on them, which strike the heavy strings at the bottom of the keyboard, are short and stubby; while the cores that were once covered with thin felts (for the higher, thinner strings) are long and thin. And there is a third size in between those two for the hammers in the middle of the action.
Putting them together
Because the acrylic pouring technique yields an illusion of fluidity, I decided that for my first paint pour I’d use the colors of the ocean. I made two of them, each on a 12″ x 12″ canvas, and not surprisingly, they look quite different from one another. For the first one, I painted the hammer cores from that sad piano, using the same colors that were in the watery background, then arranged them in a circle on top of the canvas. On the second canvas, I combined the cores from various pianos, both upright and grand, and so got a slightly different look. The grand piano hammers made the difference because they’re curved at the tail, as opposed to their stumpy upright counterparts.
Now for the hard part
For me the hardest part of creating something new is coming up with a name for it. Because my focus is pianos, I decided a long time ago to give each piece a music-themed title. Sometimes it’s a musical term that I think aptly describes what’s happening on the canvas. Other times it’s the name of a song. In this case, it’s a phrase from within a song. In fact, the song played through my mind constantly as I worked. It’s a hymn that has been set to a few different tunes, and it’s called “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.” My church hymnal presents it with a traditional Gaelic melody (Bunessan) in the Key of C. But my favorite setting is the lovely minor key tune, Ebenezer, composed by Thomas J. Williams.
O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free! Rolling as a mighty ocean In its fullness over me. Underneath me, all around me Is the current of His love; Leading onward, leading homeward To my glorious rest above.
O the deep, love of Jesus; Spread His praise from shore to shore! How He loveth, ever loveth, Changeth never, nevermore. How He watches o’er His loved ones, Died to call them all His own; How for them He intercedeth, Watcheth o’er them from the throne!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, Love of ev’ry love the best! ‘Tis an ocean vast of blessing, ‘Tis a haven sweet of rest. O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ‘Tis a heav’n of heav’ns to me; And it lifts me up to glory, For it lifts me up to Thee.
Now that you’ve read it, I invite you to listen to a stunning arrangement of my favorite arrangement of this song….
Thank you for joining me on this tour of the studio. I look forward to seeing you on the next one. Until then, I invite you to check out photos of my other work in the gallery. Enjoy the rest of your day!
Playing a symphony
On the waves of a Piano
Slender Fingers moving musically
Keys that danced to his touch
Creating notes of magical felicity
On rosettes and germaniums
Who sang his first song
Ecstatically flirting with joy
Rapturous love on his face
Sang to her sweet Loveliness
Every moment an upsurge
Whispering soft tunes of […]