Dear family and friends,
This is Monday morning, after my Virginia Highland Art Festival. I wanted to take a few minutes and tell all of my closest family and friends about how the weekend went.
First of all, it was about the hottest 2 days I can remember! Around 94 degrees, both days, so, physically , it was very draining. The public turnout was incredibly high---maybe 25 or 30,000 people. Sat. seemed to be mostly a very young (college aged) crowd. I was surprised by the attire, especially the young women---they were all dressed up, in dresses and casual heels. It seemed like a very "social" event, like they were all trying to look their very best--not shorts and sneakers. Anyway, a party type atmosphere. I got the definite impression that they were NOT there to buy artwork. So, I felt a little overlooked, and a little disappointed. After all, I was there to try to sell some stuff-- I needed the money! Well, we sat there for 9 hours sweating, drinking tons of water, but selling nothing---except 1 $20.00 print. You can imagine, we left a little discouraged and worn out. We had dinner on the way home for $30.00. So, net result for first day---$10 in the hole.
I have been preparing for this show for months now, and had spent over $2000 on fees, frames, display panels, etc. When I got home, I laid down on my porch swing, exhausted, and prayed---Lord, what am I supposed to think about that?? Are You trying to tell me something?
I need to mention, that the night before the show, I had prayed, and asked God to somehow bring Glory to Himself thru me and my artwork.
Sunday we headed back down there, a little less optimistic, but determined to hang in there. I had tried every sales gimmick I knew the day before--even asked an old vet. of the shows( a few tents down) for advice on how to generate sales. But still saw no results. Oh well, I'll just ride this out and see what happens.
I still didn't have a clue what God was up to. Sunday morning, I noticed it was a different type of crowd--a little older, strolling thru and actually taking time to come in and really look at the art. Maybe today will be different, I thought. Almost right away, a man came in and started looking thru my print bin. I just have to have 2 copies of this print, he said. Great! I'll wrap those up for you. $40 more dollars - OK, here we go, I thought. The prints he bought were a painting of Jesus, called "the Lamb", which I almost didn't even take -might be too controversial, I thought. I decided to take the original and 8 prints anyway. Well now 3 prints of Jesus had sold!
The day drug on and on for hour after hour---HOT, hot hot! but still no sales of my original paintings.
Now it's 4 o’clock --2 more hours of suffering in this heat, then I can go home and forget this!
Then it started happening. Person after person began coming in to talk about my Jesus paintings--I had 2--one of Jesus on the cross-dying, and the Lamb. They all seemed to be more interested in talking about Jesus, than the actual painting. It was Him they were impressed with, not me. For the next 2 hours, I shared the Gospel more than I can remember, as people began to share their lives and experiences with me.
One man in particular was especially moved by The Lamb. Are you a religious person, Deanna asked? No, not too much--I was raised Catholic--but I got away from it, but I'm coming back to God now. Really, I asked? What happened? Well, he went on, I have been a very successful Corporate Executive, and made tons of money, and have had lots of material things. One day, a few months ago , I was sitting out on my Penthouse Condo deck, drinking - actually drunk - and I began to look around me . I have everything I could want---but there must be more to life than this. Is this it? Is this all there is? There must be something more. So, I got back into Church, because I always felt peaceful there.
So, I've been coming back to God. The whole time he was talking, he kept looking at the painting of Jesus. I stopped him briefly, looked him in the eye, and said--You know, that was the voice of God speaking to you, telling you that there really is more to life than all this stuff. Looking, and pointing to the Jesus painting, I said , It's about knowing Jesus ,and that his blood was shed for You, to forgive all of your sins. I think you are right, he said. I want to show you one more painting I have of Jesus on the cross. OK, he said. I had already sold that print 20 minutes earlier to a man selling yard Sculpture--just right across the street from my tent. Come on over here for a minute, I want to show you this one. Ok, he said, as we walked across the street. I asked the Yard Sculpture guy if I could show this man the painting of Jesus. As the 3 of us stood there, looking at Jesus ' bloody body hanging on the cross, we all 3 just stood in silence for a minute, gazing. It was as if we were all there, at the scene, observing Jesus dying.
I broke the silence, and my voice began to quiver a little as I said---He died to forgive MY sin--That blood was shed for Me,I said. No ,no, it was for me, both other men said.
We had a very real and deep moment of worship of the King of Kings together.
As we walked back across the street to my tent, the rich guy said, I want a print of that too. Can I buy both prints in a large size, from you. Sure!!, I said.
We are making his prints today and sending them to him. He volunteered to pay me in advance for them--$50 ea. I normally, as a smart businessman, would never pay for anything in advance--but I completely trust you. Here you go. I am going to be in touch with you, I want to talk some more about this!
All in all, for the whole weekend, I only sold prints of one thing---The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the World!!!!!!
God really did bring Glory to himself for the weekend. There are many more conversations like that , that took place. I just know that God used this old artist to proclaim the gospel at the Virginia Highlands Art Festival--June 4th and 5th, 2011. And I do believe He can and will continue to use my paintings for His Glory. That is my prayer anyway!
Thanks for all of you that prayed for me.
Love you all.