"Almost Paradise" is number two in a series of seven oil paintings I am creating for the South Carolina ETV Board Room. These paintings are part of a two year exhibit which will be on loan to SCETV from July, 2015 until June, 2017. Once the exhibit is over these paintings will then be available for purchase.
I took the photo that inspired “Almost Paradise” while on a family vacation in beautiful South Carolina.
Every morning I woke up early and wandered around the island with my camera. I wanted to capture the unique beauty found in this part of the country, knowing this magical place would be one I would love to document in my paintings someday.
As I explored the area, I noticed that there were many, many long docks stretching from the marshy shores into deeper water. They were each private docks, most of them closed off by gates and posting signs that read "No Trespassing."
So unless you were willing to ignore the warning for the sake of your art (as I usually am when carrying my big camera) you were stuck on shore.
Of course these gates were simply trying to protect what was rightfully theirs by law, and probably also trying to ensure that nobody falls off their dock into the water.
As I looked backed on all of these gates a few years later now, it struck me that perhaps the island was full of people who were trying to stake out their own piece of Paradise. People like me, who were trying to protect all the many things that they thought they “needed” to be truly happy.
But did it really work? Did the amount of effort it took to acquire and maintain these gated docks with their magnificent views, truly satisfy the deepest crevices of their souls? Did the long-awaited vacations and hard-earned real estate bring them more than just a fleeting peace? Was the dock behind the gate TRULY what they did need to be satisfied?
As a visual artist, I am constantly struggling with the desire to create MY own piece of paradise. Whether it is in my home, garden, hotel room, family, schedule, etc. — I am always furiously trying to create a perfect sense of beauty and order within just about all areas my life.
I am always longing for a place that is perfectly peaceful, and completely beautiful. A place that will finally satisfy my soul.
There are times when I literally feel tormented by the fact that I can never make things as beautiful as I know they could be, if just given a little more time and energy.
The last year has been one of tremendous inner turmoil for me. It has been filled with an extraordinary amount of anger and dissatisfaction, which often bubbles up and overwhelms the extraordinary amount of things I truly do have to be thankful for.
In the midst of creating this painting, I read something that struck a deep chord within me. So deep, that it caused me to infuse the idea into this piece. It is posted as a reminder to myself, when I undoubtedly will forget what I know to be True.
In a nutshell: We were created for Paradise. This fallen world is NOT Paradise. My longing for Paradise is just a reminder that this life is just temporary until I reach my true home in heaven. It is only through my relationship with Christ that I will ever feel the satisfaction that my soul was designed for.
So whether I have a long, gated dock, with million-dollar water views and access, or a perfectly organized and crumb-free silverware drawer --- neither of these things could ever truly offer the satisfaction that each of our souls were designed for.
There really is no such thing as TRUE Paradise here on earth. Realizing this fact is actually quite freeing to my oft-burdened soul.
Instead of trying to create my own version of Paradise, I should let all the good things in my life be used as reminders which point me to The Creator. Reminders that although at times I DO see glimpses and reflections of it — this world will only ever be... “ALMOST Paradise.”