Making Art

Missional Voices Conference 2016

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This past weekend I was deeply blessed to be part of the inaugural Missional Voices conference at Virginia Theological Seminary, a weekend to bring together a diverse group of people from across the Episcopal Church and dream and share about ways of incarnating the gospel in our diverse communities. From the keynotes to the panel discussions to the new friendships, I feel full, loved and cared for.

I was also excited to be an artist in residence for the conference tasked with digital visual note-taking and leading a small group time on Zendoodles (Zentangles). I wanted to make a blog entry on some of the things I produced as a digital visual note-taker, and introduce you to some exciting people I met in the weekend.


I have some new friends, heroes, and I hope, folks I might find ways to spend time and ministry with in the coming years. So many good souls were with us in the weekend that I could never mention them all, but I did want to highlight some new friends…

Ginny Wilder… Um, I’ve already started my Apple Music playlist of her stuff. Yes, she’s a singer songwriter currently working on her 7th studio album and has some of her stuff in the iTunes library. I didn’t know all that when I met her on Friday. I think we were just standing around before dinner outside the refectory having cold beers, finger foods and soaking up the long-awaited sunshine of a late-in-coming Spring. We started chatting and I noticed she wears the same James Avery wedding band I wear… BFF zone. She has a YouTube channel and is currently raising money for her next album.

Stephanie Spellers… Stephanie Spellers is an author and the Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Evangelism and Reconciliation, and a really cool lady. She was a keynote speaker at the conference and a leader in the worship sessions.

There were so many more like Alan and Christian, who started the idea rolling for the conference and worked so hard to make it happen. And there was Jason Evans, a good friend and Missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.


I was making some digital art! I’ve done the visual note-taking thing with white boards and markers, and I’ve done live painting in which I weave the themes of worship and the speaker(s) into the canvas… this weekend was a hybrid of the two and I really enjoyed it.

I took notes during the keynotes, sometimes on a prepared digital canvas I made before the conference, sometimes of a photo from the Seminary campus and chapel, and sometimes completely from scratch. Here are a few of my favorites…

A prayer before we got started…





“Missional Voices” talks…




Notes and responses to panel discussions…




As I listened, the theme of Table relating to Missional became clear…


Response to worship…


And I was asked to do my art live, projected on three walls, during the closing Eucharist. I’ll see if I can also post the video for that one so you can see the progression of the image as well as the finished still…


and the video…

Looking forward to next year! Missional Voices 2017!

AMDG, Todd

Playing With Glyphs

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imageI’m sitting at Starbucks before heading to work and I get a the urge to play with making glyphs. Now, I’m no linguist and I’ve not spent time with any ancient glyphs, so I’m no authority here. I simply had a canvas that I had prepared in Procreate on my iPad and was thinking of looking up a cool Japanese symbol to add to it. But, since I don’t know any Japanese symbols, I’m at the mercy of websites to supply me the image and the meaning.

I don’t know about you, but that always scares me. Like what happens if the website says this is the symbol for purity, but it’s actually the symbol for dunce, as in “Look at this dunce who saw something on the Internet and copied it!” I decided instead to work through a short exercise of what it might be like to create my own glyphs, my own symbols to convey an idea.

It wasn’t terribly easy, and I’m aware that we’ve all seen symbols and used them all our lives. I can’t do this in a vacuum of experience or culture, but can I move somewhat outside of my own experience to make something a little new? It won’t be totally new, but maybe a little novel?

I chose to convey the idea of compassion, compassion being our ability to see the suffering of someone and feeling moved to alleviate the suffering. My glyph is read left to right, top to bottom. I decided to convey four distinct ideas with the glyphs to represent compassion. First, there is awareness, the eye, that is looking upon a person. Second, that person is suffering, as seen by the downward movement of the arrow. Third, there is identifying with that person and making a communal bond, when the curving walls bring us together, like cupping hands. The final and fourth idea is a reversal of the downward trend of life to an alleviation of the suffering, an upward arrow.

The value of this little exercise of mine was not the work of deciding how to draw a person or make an stylized eyeball, but it was the meditation on compassion as a movement, an action and a process. Can I live this way? Can I see people and move to identify with them and work together to bring healing? Do I want to? It seems to me that we have a daily choice to go beside people in their worst of times, or to retreat and hope that less is asked of us when next we meet someone. This decision was poignantly played out in the story Jesus told about the man we now call The Good Samaritan.

In that story we see two people choose to ignore the suffering of another person, and one person choose to face the suffering and help alleviate it. Jesus taught this story to illustrate love for one’s neighbor, for all of ine’s neighbors. The story transcended ethnic divides, religious divides and national divides. The story unites us as a single humanity that cares for one another. That’s a concept worthy of some imagination. That’s a story worth doodling and imagining as a template for our own walk down the road.

AMDG, Todd

2013 Daily Advent, Week One

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advent 2013Happy First Sunday of Advent!

Advent Week One 2013 For Web (pdf)

It’s my favorite time of year… I mean I do love me some Lent and Easter, but I LOVE Advent and Christmas! To celebrate the season and help make Advent a little more meaningful I am creating a daily devotional guide that can be used with prayers, or for any kind of creative exercise from poetry to photography, from sketches to prose. Each Sunday of Advent I’ll post the new week’s seven day guide. You’re invited to use it as you’d like; each day has a reading (some person or piece of the Incarnation narrative), a creative focus (a word or short phrase) and a few words for the day (one or two thoughts or questions). That’s the link to the pdf at the top of the blog. =)

You can resonate right off the text of the day, or just use the Creative Focus of each day as a spring board for some kind of an artist endeavor. You can use the guide to keep a personal Advent journal, fill a 25 page sketch book, or inspire us all with cool Facebook posts. It’s yours to enjoy and put to use however you choose. The devotions will cover every day of December right through Christmas Day!

My prayer is that your Advent and Christmas celebrations are rich with all the best blessings of Life: God’s presence, fun times with family, deep prayer, lots of rest and delicious food! May your body and soul be filled by the best!

AMDG, Todd