by Deva Moore
AArt can be food for the soul but it is also provides an opening of the soul for peace. Gazing upon art can feed one’s need for beauty and it also can be an outlet for a need, when one cannot find a prayer or a meditative moment then turn to art. Jacqui Read’s talent guides her audience through that process effortlessly. Art can be the window to open prayers regardless of religious preference.
Jacqui is married to a minister. He currently leads the St Helenas Episcopal Church in Boerne, Texas. A local calling they have answered since 1998 and returned to after a few years of being needed to fulfill another calling in a San Antonio church. Helping others fulfill their spiritual needs seems to be their calling in life.
David, her husband gave her this prayer to help her focus when she begins a new project or even her classes. “Artists cooperate with God as Christ works to renew all of creation. Art teachers work alongside God to open the eyes of His children to God’s handiwork in His beautiful creation: the innumerable patterns, the amazing variety of life, the subtle shades of color, the way light plays and transforms. Through the love and teaching of art teachers, God’s children discover the very hand and fingerprints God himself has left on all creation.” Jacqui found art as a method to pray when she could not always find a verbal manner to feel fulfilled when looking for spiritual answers to her needs. She would find a quiet place, meditate, pray for guidance and discovered her God-given talent of art as answering her prayers and some days she found an answer of “not now” or an answer she did not expect. Sometimes her answer was confirmed as she anticipated. To quote Sally Miller, another praying with paint artist “…it is a surprising way to use your imagination to enlarge your faith”. Thomas Merton once said “There is in us an instinct for newness, for renewal, for a liberation of creative power. We seek to awaken in ourselves a force which really changes our lives from within. And yet the same instinct tells us that change is recovery of that which is deepest, most original, most personal in ourselves. To be born again is not to become someone else but to become ourselves.”
Using art as prayer exposes one’s inner most soul to a connection they did not expect. Art opens the soul to an intimacy most do not anticipate, when Jacqui teaches a class her goal is to allow one to speak through their own artistic creations allowing their individual needs to be exposed through their work. She starts her classes off with finger paints while providing a supply of paper, paints and canvas to begin creating. This allows the artist to reach a connection through their higher power to fulfillment and a path to prayer. It is much like taking a blank sheet for a writer and just free writing. No goal, no rules, no boundaries. Some artists prefer crayons, colored pencils or even other painting tools to reach the same goal: Which almost always is peace. The outcome may be something tangible or something abstract but the end product always produces an answer to the prayer.
Jacqui enjoys teaching young people to be able to express themselves through prayer and introduces art to young people in middle school and high school weekly in a home school program for their art credit. It allows young people to understand art and the art of prayer in a well guided program while obtaining necessary credits. Jacqui took some art classes in Brady and awoke a love for art that was always buried inside and she found a successful way to weave art and prayer. Jacqui indicated there were artists in her family so this love was nurtured. When teaching older persons, Jacqui enjoys the women who seek her guidance allowing them to find some solace and peace in their otherwise busy lives. Spiritual painting or “praying with paint” allows anyone to understand the need to stop and meditate or reflect on situations or events in their life that need guidance from their own personal higher power. Praying with paint is purposed with no denomination of faith or religion or even rules.
It is simply a method to allow anyone seeking answers they desire or a relaxation technique for success. Jacqui’s talent in bringing this to fruition is a valuable resource to everyone. Jacqui began her journey 23 years ago when in her own life she found a need to express, hear, and understand situations. Jacqui sought out an outlet that she could find quiet, personal time with her creator to give her peace. She would light a candle, say a prayer and meditate. After which she would get out her canvas and begin free painting. Her answers would come in the form of what she was led to paint or draw. Again when her twin granddaughters were born and one of the beautiful little girls was considerably smaller than her twin and needed some special NICU time, Jacqui sought out an outlet that she could find quiet, personal time with her creator to give her peace. She would light a candle, say a prayer and meditate. After which she would get out her canvas and begin free painting. Her answers would come in the form of what she was led to paint or draw. Her prayers were answered as that precious little girl thrives today. Jacqui realized the benefit to others in society to praying with paint.
Using art as prayer exposes one’s inner most soul to a connection they did not expect.
Jacqui teaches classes on how to utilize this gift in one’s life and does this in an ongoing guidance classes. To Jacqui there are no limits to who can find praying with paint a great journey of their own. She has taught classes to families, couples, singles, moms who need some “me” time, and anyone else who seeks a spiritual journey through life. Understanding how this can positively affect lives, one must understand how deep praying with paint speaks. Prayer painting is certainly a way of meditating and praying with art. There are no special skills needed to participate and supplies are provided one only must bring their faith and pursuit for guidance. In praying with paint is not about being perfect but always about seeking guidance and truth for oneself. There are no rules, one does not have to “color within the lines” and there is no grade or expectation of completion. One’s painting contains the “medicine” one needs…the messages the heart is seeking. It is the reminder that the prayer is lifted and heard. Some projects are never “completed” beyond the artist’s feel. Jacqui has her own ongoing project which is totally about the process and not about a completed project. The layers represent the many chapters which have completed her life until the urge for the next layer strikes her. Some projects have a finite moment but some do not, again no rules.
The journey is more important than having an end project although Jacqui has had many completed projects which someone sees and asks to purchase. Jacqui has sold a few pieces in this manner but does not rely on the selling nor is it her goal. Her goal is to facilitate a person’s journey of their own prayers through painting. There is no perfect finish or exact but each one is unique and fulfills the prayer request. Jacqui’s priority is sharing the praying and finding a way for others to work through their needs-Jacqui states “love is working with others through their prayers and teaching them how to meditate through their own processes successfully”. She will be participating in a show for Clergy and family in Corpus Christi at the diocesan and council in February. It is not a sale show but an exhibition.
Jacqui enjoys painting for the process of prayer and uses acrylics, finger paints and mixed media, she began her journey in water colors. She finds the work of Georgia O’Keefe inspirational as well as the works of Brother Cletus. Brother Cletus passed away a few years ago but still inspires Jacqui consistently. She feels lucky to own a few of his pieces and values them immensely. Brother Cletus used acrylics and oils and his work is very childlike and innocent. Jacqui is drawn to his work because of the simplicity and straight forward tones.
By all definitions, Jacqui is an artist but she does not really consider herself an artist, she considers herself a teacher who loves to paint. Quite remarkable!!!! She teaches the process of praying and meditation through painting as a tool for a successful life. Understanding the reasons for her gift can be compared to washing dishes as a child with mom or grandma-washing dishes seemed to open the door to a considerable conversation about what is going on in one’s life and receiving the much needed guidance. Praying with paint opens the conversation between one and their higher power about what is going on in one’s life.
Jacqui has worked at a studio in San Antonio but will facilitate classes anywhere there is a need and space such as a church or other space resource. Her classes are non denominational and meet a need for anyone looking to enlarge their prayer and connection with a higher power in their life. Jacqui offers an outlet for anyone wanting an option because this is more about faith than any organized religion. It is an invitation to whatever is in one’s heart and soul through prayer. The turning point gift for Jacqui was when she realized that doing art for herself was a gift that she could share and teach others to pray and grow in their own journey. Jacqui has an ongoing project of her own that is many layers as she feels when it is time to add another or another layer of color or texture according to Jacqui this piece may never be finished as it is always a work in progress!!!
She knew her gift could help others who felt the need to connect to their own higher power through prayer and she could give them an option to assist them in their journey. There are of course No rules, No lines or No boundaries, and no need for “paint by numbers” it is all paint by faith and prayer. Anyone interested in painting by prayer please contact Jacqui at J-Read studio on facebook. It is also possible to contact her by email at BoerneRead@gmail.com. The best part of Praying with Paint is one is often reminded that it is not about being perfect but about being unique. Faith is unique like a tapestry. There are many backgrounds and many beliefs that will fill a class and while the guidance is the same the outcome will be different every time because of each person’s unique individuality. It is perfectly fine to be the same in need but different in faith. If the world is just a little too much sometime and seems to try one’s faith and there are no words, why not give Jacqui’s class a whirl and regain some of that faith so desperately needed.