Where did you begin your journey into creativity and the arts?
My journey with creativity begins with God, the Creator of everything. Because God created us in His image, I believe it also means a seed of creativity is planted in our DNA. People are creators too, created to recreate beauty and reflect His glory here on earth.
As a young girl, I enjoyed drawing, and I remember entering art pieces in the local farm show competitions. Throughout my school days, art was one of my favorite classes. While attending Lancaster Mennonite High School, I was also interested in taking drafting and architectural design, but that was during an era when young men typically took those classes. Being a young woman, I remember walking past the tech classrooms wishing I could be one of those learning the skills of building and design.
Likewise, art education at the college level did not seem like an acceptable option. The cultural differences between my upbringing in the Mennonite church and the School of Arts seemed too wide to bridge. In my local context, it felt like the arts were approached with unspoken skepticism instead of celebration. After graduating high school, my leanings toward art were used at the local Christian bookstore, where I was head of the arts and crafts department. Then after a couple of years of overseas mission work, I married Keith Blank, and we raised a family together. I continued to believe that the works of our hands, whether drawing a picture, cooking a meal, building a bridge, or planting a garden, are all artistic expressions of God’s creative work in us.
Tell us what happened next that changed the course of your art ministry.
In 2014, while Keith was serving as pastor at Mountville Mennonite Church, we became friends with a local artist and his wife, who attended the weekly Saturday pancake breakfast. During a conversation, they gave me the contact information of another local artist who taught watercolor classes. I immediately inquired about the classes and was instantly hooked on watercolor painting. I continue to be a student in the class to this day. My surroundings inspire me; open fields, rural buildings, trees, streams, and gardens continue to capture attention in my art.
How were you inspired to paint the pieces titled–The Invitation, Just Follow, and Always More in 2016?
At times, during worship or prayer, I see images in my mind’s eye that I will later sketch with the intention to paint at some point. I eventually shared these particular ones with my art instructor, who recommended combining them into a triptych. The idea of displaying three spiritually significant pictures side by side in a triptych appealed to me.
How do you feel about the LMC’s interpretation of your tryptic in the context of a Spirit-led movement?
I trust that God will fulfill His purposes for LMC in a creative and beautiful way that transcends personal stories and cultural boundaries. I sometimes call my paintings “my babies.” It’s as if they are born through me, but then I am happy to release them to others and God. My ultimate goal is to allow God to use this work of my hands to speak to others. I never want to censure or restrict how God might choose to speak through what I have painted.
Do you have final words to leave with our readers?
Introducing others to Jesus through our lives and what we do is our great calling. We must trust Him to do that through our skills and interests. He will be faithful as he leads us and provides us with everything we need.
Brenda is a self-taught watercolor artist from Lancaster, PA who gets her inspiration from the everyday scenes surrounding her. She likes to capture light and shadow using earthy colors in much of her work. Always experimenting with various techniques, she enjoys the challenge in finding balance between control and allowing the picture to paint itself. See more of her work at www.facebook.com/BJBlank or www.instagram.com/bjblankart/