Painting for Prayer

Photo credit: Kimberly Smith

The Office of Discipleship Ministries’ women’s mentorship organization Heart to Heart hosted a “Painting as Prayer” event Sunday to help connect women to God through art.

The 12 participants were given donuts, handouts regarding Lent and Holy Ground and art supplies as inspiration as they spread out in the Mentorship Office and the Rose Garden to paint.

“Painting is just expression; it’s just a different way to journal or sing a song,” said Spiritual Mentoring Coordinator Jeanine Smith.

This was the fourth time Smith organized an APU event that incorporated painting as a medium of spiritual formation.

“I try to give mentors and students different opportunities to get together that are sort of outside of the normal ‘sit and chat,'” Smith said.

This unique means of expression brought the participants a creative outlet to share their hearts with one another about current life struggles and other situations.

“I realized that I’m focusing on discipline for the year. I either feel like I’m overly disciplined and glorifying busyness or lazy. I’m trying to find that balance,” said junior liberal studies major Lauren Sutton.

Sutton’s pastel watercolor painting reflected this, as she shared with the group that the blues and greens of the piece representing peace and the pinks and yellows reflecting discipline blended together, while the gold streaks that spread throughout “symbolized God’s divine nature” in both aspects of her life.

Sutton said she plans to continue in “quiet time to reflect what [God] is showing [her]” in finding time to process, since “college students are so busy and never take time for themselves.”

A common theme among the women present was the desire to set aside time to reflect on God through art.

“Reflection makes you stop [to] pause on everything calling at you and just think about your relationship with God,” said mentor Yolana Young.

Young came with her two undergraduate mentees to interact in a new way with them and God. Though she has drawn and written poetry as outlets for prayer before, Young explained that she had never before painted to share her spiritual experiences. This opportunity to paint brought back memories of another time Young felt God working in her life, and she incorporated this revelation into her art.

“Years ago, I was driving to San Diego for a conference for work, and I feel like the Holy Spirit told me ‘Look over there,'” Young said. “There was this mountain of beautiful flowers and I felt like he said, ‘Those are for you.'”

Young’s painting shared this experience, as she incorporated “what God gave [her] in beauty through mountains and flowers.”