News

Iris Carignan in art studio
Blog

Erasing the Crayon

My iPhone lit up with a call from a friend who I’d recently re-connected with. I listened as she bubbled over with excitement and a proposal for me. Somehow it seemed to relate to something my mind had been ruminating on for a few weeks.

Recently I’d heard someone say “you can’t erase crayon.” Since then, and much like the medium itself, a thought I had wouldn’t erase from my mind. I kept thinking about how it was a good metaphor for things that get embedded into our hearts—good things and not so good things, colorful things and dark terrible things that never seem to go away. Especially the things that can be colored onto a young child’s heart. As an artist, of course, I also thought about throwing a few strokes of crayon onto a painting.

Knowing something about the properties of crayon, I knew it would have to be placed on the canvas early in the process to work. I also knew that after it was on the canvas (or paper), any other medium like oil paint, pastel or watercolor would be repelled by its waxiness. Then I thought about how life is so like that at times. We may have some new colorful and joyful thing currently happening in our life, but the waxy injuries of some experiences stubbornly resist going away—refuse to be covered up or erased. No, they continue to bleed through even the brightest spots.

Many people struggle for years from emotional and physical pain inflicted when they were very young. Some of the pain continues to plague their hearts and lives, resisting to fully embrace the good when it does come their way. Thankfully my life has mostly been beautiful and blessed, so, why was I still thinking about this paradox three weeks later? Why was a gal like me, (one with a relatively easy life compared to so many), still thinking about not being able to erase crayon? More importantly, was God placing it in my heart for His good purposes?  I wondered.

Then that call came in. She said I’d come to her mind as someone who might be interested in teaching an art class to some struggling young women at a transitional home. Little did she know, I’d been seeking God’s leading to find a ministry where I could use my maturity as a Christian woman as well as my talents, to minister to young women. I also thought about how painting takes me to a different emotional place of peace and beauty.

Bingo! There it was—the metaphor. I was being given the opportunity to teach art to women who had lots of waxy, hurtful experiences that were hard to erase from their life. Those painful strokes on the canvas of their hearts had led them into tough trials and struggles they were still dealing with.

God was leading me to a new way of painting beauty into the life of others. He was going to let me help these dear ladies find a beautiful way to erase crayon. 

Fall Festival of Fine Art Exhibit
News

Fall Fine Art Exhibit

Iris Carignan at the art exhibit.

2021 FALL FINE ART EXHIBIT
…AND CROWN THY GOOD WITH BROTHERHOOD…

GRAND OPENING & ARTISTS RECEPTION FRIDAY OCT. 8, 5:30-7:00PM

Iris will be exhibiting three of her paintings at the Fall Fine Art Exhibit…and Crown Him with Brotherhood. Hosted by North Coast Calvary Chapel in Carlsbad, CA. 1330  Poinsettia Ln, Carlsbad, CA 92011.

Reception and Special Guest Speaker 5:30 -8:30 in the Story Café

  • Meet in The Story Caffe at 5:30pm for Appetizers.
  • Art on display & live music in The Chapel Lobby & Family Center.

In Monet's Garden
Poetry

Beauty

Beauty is all around, yet I seek it more.

I seek to see beauty—beauty that is within and stored

not just laying lightly on surface.

Beauty that emanates from His creation.

Beauty that lasts. That is what I seek.

Beauty in love, beauty in pain.

Beauty in the found and beauty in the stain.

Beauty in the joy and even in the sorrow.

There in Christ is more than enough for today and tomorrow.

Open my eyes to see it, Lord

And better still, my heart to know it’s there

Let my fingers touch it, my mouth taste it, and my ears hear it.

Let my mind and eyes see it, then paint or write it.

So it lingers on.

And when my heart brims and starts to overflow,

let me give it out and let it go.

Beauty can be quick, short lived, but true.

Let not any of it be missed and slip through.

Sometimes camouflaged in ugly, it lay unseen.

Still beauty is there waiting to be gleaned.

Beauty once hung upon an ugly cross.

Pierced with pain and sorrow

Its wicked means for grace through loss.

A necklace hangs lightly with symbol on a chain,

not to adorn the grotesque, or to celebrate His pain.

But to remind me of that beauty and my salvation through it that as gained.

And there it was the first one of today.

A rock pressed hard into the sand.

shaped like a heart from ocean’s harsh play.

Another symbol, maybe, of my own heart—a stone shaped

and hardened by the wicked world’s hand.

Needing Holy Spirit cleansing, waterfalled and washed down to a thirsty land.

Place in me a heart of flesh

And not a heart of stone.

Let beauty of truth and love, be softened and shaped

by You alone.

Moriah's Gift
Blog

WRITING – THE GREAT REVEALER

As an author, I have learned that writing is a most revealing craft, not just to the reader, but also for the author. Consuming the message of a story may fill the reader with insights for their own life, but you may also find yourself peering into the heart of the author’s own soul. 

If that sounds a little backwards, it probably is. But, for me, writing has always been an overflow of my own experiences, impressions, and soul searching. Thus, my old wounds, early impressions, hopes and dreams can float to the surface of a text. Perhaps that is why my latest book Moriah’s Wings, though a short and simple story, reflects so much of my own seasoning.  For example, while writing Moriah’s Wings, I drew upon my experience as a teenager and my babysitting days. Quite often while sitting with little girls, they would ask to brush my long hair. I was always accommodating to that request because their gentle brush strokes tickled my scalp and helped me relax. So, when I created a scene in the story that could explain how Moriah had the opportunity to learn about her Mistress’s worries, I wrote that Moriah asked if she could brush Priscilla’s hair. And of course it worked: “each gentle gesture seemed to massage her mistress’ troubled spirit and relax her slumped shoulders.” Soon Priscilla began unloading her worry about her husband Naaman’s leprosy. And just as she finishes, Naaman walkes in and Moriah boldly suggests he go see the prophet Elisha to be healed.

Another surprising thing I have learned is how often my own words can be a lesson or comfort to my own soul. Just recently, I was struggling with some new tasks and responsibilities that just didn’t seem to be taking shape in a timely fashion. Frustration overflowed as all my best efforts continued to fail. Then I picked up my book, “Fresh Eyes: Seeing God in the Unexpected,” and began reading one of my own stories. There, shouting from the pages of my own hand, lay wisdom, inspiration and a reminder of God’s solution to my dilemma. The title of the story, “Keeping the Goal in Sight,” was all about how we can reach our goals when we harness the power and strength of the Lord and the example it used  was the powerful racehorse, Secretariat in comparison to his jockey. 

It read: “I considered how the rider must feel as he becomes one with the horse, experiencing its power, strength, and exhilarating force flow through his spirit. I imagine that for the rider, each thrilling moment is fulfilling God’s purpose for his life.” The story went on to remind me that, we are only powerful when we learn to harness God’s power and we become one with the Lord in purpose and goal.  And like a jockey whose horse takes him to the finish line, only through His might and strength, will we run the race He has set before us.”

So, there it was all laid-out before me. Clear as day. Words of wisdom speaking back into my own soul. The irony wasn’t lost on me. In fact it continued to speak to my spirit further as it brought to mind other times when I’d learned to rely on God’s power and spirit, instead of my own, to get through something. So, I guess it’s safe to say that sometimes a writer might send a reminder to themself that’s hiding in the plain site of their own words.

Blog

FRAGRANT MOMENTS AND MEMORIES

Did ya ever have a moment of curious inspiration and wonder—wonder that asks if it was your imagination, or if there’s a logical explanation for what happened? Well, just yesterday morning I had one of those. I was out on my patio spending some time in prayer, when it happened. A sweet fragrance suddenly wafted by. Funny, it wasn’t there when I first came out. I sat relishing the intoxicating perfumed air, inhaling as much as I could of the aroma similar to gardenias or jasmine. But, curiously, I noted, there aren’t any fragrant flowers currently blooming in our back yard at all, nor many in the front. And I wasn’t aware of any like that in nearby properties. 

So, how was it, I could smell that sweet fragrance? Could it be God was sending me a beautiful message of hope and courage? I’d been feeling weighed down lately after a barrage of troubles had continued to batter my husband and I for several months. It seemed that every time we’d get past one, another would come our way. My husband had suffered the most with everything including two different medical events that took him to the emergency hospital. By themselves, most of the trials weren’t earth shaking and our faith continued to get us through, but with wave after wave we barely had a chance to catch our breath between each one.  

So, I wondered, does God ever make Himself known in that way? I don’t know. But shortly after my unique aromatic experience, a distant memory drifted in too. I remembered an amazing woman I’d met thirty or forty years ago, named Bilquis Sheikh. She had spoken at our church telling her miraculous story of an encounter with God and how it led her out of her Muslim beliefs and into Christianity. In one part of her book, “I Dared to Call Him Father,” I recalled Madame Bilquis telling of a moment when an inexplicable sweet fragrance surrounded her. That sign, along with others, led her to a great change of faith. 

Ironically, the very fact that I remembered Madame Bilquis Sheikh’s name—and how to spell it, after all these years, was, in itself, a miracle for me—in my senior years I’m lucky to remember my own name sometimes. Yet, I do know that smell and memory are very attached to one another. Perhaps that’s why the story of Mary Magdalene washing the feet of Jesus with the  Oil of Spikenard to prepare Him for burial, also came to mind. In John 12:1-7 the account mentions the fragrance and how it “filled the room.” But the account that stands out most for me is the one in Matthew 26:13 that says “Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will be told as a memorial to her.” I.O.W. people would remember it, like, forever. 

Whether or not it was a miraculous manifestation of my Lord, or He caused the fragrance to catch a breeze and drift my way, or it just happened to find its way to me from afar, it was just what I needed that morning. And as I sat soaking it all in, a poem came to me, so I’d like to share it as my Easter gift to all of you.

A SWEET FRAGRANCE

You come to me in sweet fragrance, carried on a breeze, 

blowing softly from afar, you enter inside with ease.

Into the deep places within,

that store my pain and sin.

Infusing sweet perfume,

and a healing balm of love.

Like a candle in a room and a sweet fragrance from above. 

Springtime flowers fresh in bloom,

carry your message 

Resurrected from a tomb,

Bursting through the soil 

That held them down,

They too, raise up 

With new life found.  

Sheep beside English Church 2012
Blog

THE RIGHT VOICE


Don’t know about you, but with all the voices in our world that are clamoring for our attention these days, I’m finding it harder and harder to find my way through the din of noise. Even the joy of singing in my church choir was getting drowned out by all the Covid 19 restriction noise——”Wear a mask, keep your distance and only sing virtually, blared in my head above the beauty of the music and experience for me. So, when a friend asked if I’d seen the “peaceful” goats grazing near her home, I took pause. “Yes” I said, “and they are a beautiful sight to see.” Unfortunately, it had been on the way to the emergency hospital with my ailing husband, so of course we hadn’t been able to enjoy the sight.

Later that week, however, while pondering my friend’s observance, memories came to mind of my own experiences with goats and sheep. Many years back, we lived near a large patch of empty land. Often times sheep would graze there and we were able to observe them from across the street. Then, a few years after moving to a new house, an artist friend invited me to go with her to photograph some sheep in a nearby town. She’d gotten permission from the shepherd for us to walk among the sheep at lambing time as they grazed on the hillsides. My friend was doing research on a painting project of Jesus as the Good Shepherd and she needed some good photo references of lambs. As it turned out, I also gained some eye-opening, or should I say ear-opening information that day too.

Walking close beside the sheep brought a new revelation as I heard their bleating calls. It struck me that each sheep had a different voice much the same as people do. Some sheep had higher pitched voices (like sopranos) and others had low, or alto/base voices. And when one of the adult sheep, a mama sheep no doubt, started bleating over and over, her little lamb recognized its mother’s voice and went running up the hill to have lunch (nurse). That is when it truly sunk-in as to what Jesus was talking about when he said: “My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow me,” (John 10:27). I realized, then, that sheep do recognize different voices, because they too have unique voices.

So, as I reflect back on that experience and apply its principal today, it seems the best thing I can do is keep my ears tuned to my Shepherd’s voice (Jesus) and not let the clamoring noise of many other voices gain my attention. Not let those voices “kill, steal and destroy” my joy.

Iris Carignan

Road to Tyrella
Blog

The Joy of Creation

The joy I receive every time I create something is an amazing gift that I cherish. When we create beauty through art, music or any other medium, we get to use our hands, hearts, souls, and spirits to honor the great creator who placed that particle of DNA within us. Likewise, when we destroy beautiful creations of art, literature, or music, we are vandalizing evidence of God’s creative hand in man. And it really doesn’t matter what reason someone may give for destroying creations, it is a crime against the creator. 

Even more heinous, though, is the act of destroying one of God’s children. When we destroy another human being by intentionally killing them, whether they are adults, children, or preborn babies, we are committing the most serious of crimes against our creator. And that is because in doing so, we are stopping a beautiful creation of God from continuing in creation themselves. We are preventing them from carrying out their purposes and gifts that they could contribute, including any art they would have made. Murder of a human being is therefore the epitome of hate, disrespect, and violation of human rights towards females and males.  

In looking at the hundreds of pieces of art, songs, poems, writings and various other forms of artistic creation that I’ve had the joy of creating, there are three particular ones that stand above all— my children and grandchildren (that came from them). Nothing in my life compares to the joyous fulfillment of creation like the miracle of giving birth.

The Joy of Creation

By Iris Carignan, 2/3/19

When God created the heavens and earth,
What joy the Father must have had,
with this birth.

How awesome and amazing,
This miracle came to be.
Each particle spoken,
Creation out of nothing,
The universe to see.

Along the way,
He stopped to say,
He saw that it was good,

But when man, 
And woman came 
On Heaven’s throne He stood
And it was then 
That He proclaimed
It was very, very good. 

Made in His image.

We get to create too,
We get to see beauty 
in what we do.
We get to use hand
And in small ways, 
continue His plan.

Oh, what a privilege 
Oh, what a joy,
To know of this gift
To partake,
and employ,

The power of creation
He placed inside of us.
Creation to creation 
Continues,

    For it must!

Iris Carignan - Published author, award-winning artist, inspirational speaker, and poet.
Poetry

Send An Alleluia

by Iris Carignan

Eternal Light,
From up above,
Break through the darkness,
Of the world.
And shed your light,

Into my heart.
Shine it Lord,
On every part.

We are weary,
And our hearts are dry.
Send an alleluia,
and hear our cries.

Eternal Light
Shine on my path.
With your truth,
For I know twill last

Cut through the fog.
Lighten the load.
Send and alleluia.
Cleanse and mold,
My heart to yours Lord,
Oh, may it be,
I’ll sing an alleluia 
Only to thee.

May each morning’s sunlight,
Of every new day,
Carry love’s hope,
On every bright ray.

But should the joy,
Not show its face,
And evil hide your,
Love and grace,

I’ll sing an alleluia,
Lord, still unto thee.
I’ll sing an alleluia,
And let praises be.

Vibrant Colors Aglow
Blog

Six Steps to Painting a Picture

As an art teacher I’ve had the opportunity to help others learn how to paint and my favorite subject is landscapes. It occurred to me that the process of painting a landscape is also a good metaphor for a believer’s journey. Most artists who strive to become better in their craft usually seek a teacher or master artist to help them learn to paint well. They listen and study the teacher’s methods and then try to put them into practice. Likewise, as believers we not only come to the Lord as our Savior, but as our master and teacher and try to apply His instructions to our life. And much the same as art, the process of living-out God’s word, often includes mistakes and failed attempts. But, through perseverance, and practice, artists and believers alike will begin to see success as they “paint” their way through life. 

Looking at a step-by-step process for doing a landscape painting, I found the instructions apply equally well to both artistic and spiritual goals. Although you will likely need more than I have laid out here, I have simplified this into only 6 steps. 

#1.  Consider where you place the horizon line. Before you lay it in, you need to decide what part of the painting you want to be the most important in the composition. Do you want the sky, or heavenly part, to be predominant, or do you want everything that is below the horizon to be the most important.? Whatever you want to be the most important should be the largest area. So be sure to set the line at the right place. Similarly, in the grand scheme of your life, do you see your time here on earth as the biggest portion of our days and thus the most important, or do you see eternal life as an extravagant and boundless expanse that should be considered more important?Therefore, do you aim your efforts towards earthly things or heavenly things? So let the master of your life draw that line from the start.

#2. Lay in your big shapes and general colors. What are the big spiritual goals you have and how might they shape your actions for the strokes of each day ahead? 

#3. In planning your painting decide early what and where the focal point of it will be. Likewise, in your life, what one thing should stand out to others when they look at the picture of your life?  Keep in mind that all the contrasting dark times of trouble next to the bright spots of His light draws the most attentionSo let your light shine brightly during your trials and remember to keep your focus on Him.

#4. Stand back and look at what you have so far. Look to see if the overall design and composition is good. Make any changes you need to make before getting too committed to the wrong course. Whatever stage of life we are at, its always a good idea to step back and look at what we are doing. Examine from a godly perspective as to whether or not we are on the right course. Ask yourself, have I strayed off course in some way? Do I need to make any changes in my life before getting too invested in something that is wrong?

#5. Check your reference frequently throughout the painting process and look closely so you don’t miss important details or make the wrong assumptions about what is there. If you look at it often enough, you’ll probably see things you didn’t notice before. You may need to correct something that you painted wrong too.  As a believer, you should continue to read God’s word. Look for new revelations, watch for His corrections and then make the adjustments in your life’s picture at each juncture where needed. 

#6. Paint the details, especially in the important things and put in the accents of extra color or brightness where they best serve a purpose. Leave out some details where they aren’t necessary. The things closest in the picture usually need more detail and attention. Make sure you pay attention to the details of life that are most important. Too often we get so caughtup with other distractions in life that we ignore the best things including those who are closest to us. Let God’s Spirit guide and direct how you paint each day and let Him make the brushstrokes.

Now sign it! You’re done. Enjoy your accomplishment. Do you feel good about the work before your eyes? Make sure you aren’t comparing your work to another artist’s work when you evaluate its beauty. Remember there will always be another artist who is better in some way. Be glad you finished the work. Make sure you don’t compare yourself to others when evaluating your worth before God. Remember, God loves youThank God for working His purposes together in your life to create a beautiful painting of His love. Think of all the times He added things, took things away, pulled things together, allowed darkness to show you His light and brought color in your life. And when your life’s work is done, others will see God was the main focal point of your life and your master will say to you: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Mathew 25: 23

Iris Carignan at the art exhibit.
News

An Update of Reflections of Peace Exhibit at the Conejo Art Museum

The Conejo Valley Art Museum
proudly presents

Reflections of Peace
featuring the works of 
Iris Carignan

Yellow Tree-A Bird’s Eye View


Sunset on the Eucalyptus

Great News Everyone!
My art exhibit has been extended to
September 27th, 2020.

Iris’ Painting Demonstration!
Thanks to those who visited and watched me
paint a picture on Friday, Aug 7, and 14th.

Receptions News
Join me Saturday, August 29th from 5 to 7 pm,
for a Reception. Light refreshments provided.

Share the news!
Sincerely, Iris