As Shereen mentioned last week, we will be having the opportunity this semester to meet some of our women and learn how God speaks to them through a window in their souls. This week we had the privilege of meeting Jan Faris. Here are a few highlights of her interview with Shereen.
Shereen: When did you begin to notice that artwork brought JOY in your life?
Jan: My love for art began in kindergarten. I would run straight to the big easel with huge white sheets of paper and begin painting. I remember being restricted at times because that’s all I wanted to do. I can remember painting mountains, trees, sky, water and always a bright yellow sun.
In 1st & 2nd grade I was allowed to draw birthday cakes on the blackboard with colored chalk (still one of my favorite mediums). Later in life I learned that God had blessed my aunts and uncles and some cousins with the same ability.
In high school there were no art classes, but I remember doodling faces of people. I had no college training, but I learned to paint from the “Foster Art Books” and later took lessons from many different artists in Lincoln.
Shereen: When did you begin to understand there was a connection between the love of art and your relationship with God?
Jan: I feel God led me to a teacher who was a believer and a wonderful portrait artist. She said, “You have a God-given talent, and I can teach you everything you need to know in one month.” I had never considered my love of art as being God-given before that. I stayed in her teaching for six months just because I enjoyed our Christian fellowship and I loved her so much. I still thank God for her, after 33 years.
After that, I did many portraits and other paintings, some commissioned, until we lost our only son in 1987. Then I had to help on the farm until 2001 when we moved to Lincoln.
Shereen: So, after setting aside your painting and drawing for a while, what spurred that desire again?
Jan: In 2005 I saw a cute stuffed bear representing the armor of God and wondered if I could still draw. I could. God never withholds good things from us. I’ve made copies of this picture for all my grandchildren.
This bear represents the words of Ephesians 6: 13-17:
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Another picture that means a lot to me is this picture of the cross which I made for my son’s tombstone. It is also on my husband’s tombstone, the one he and I will share together someday.
The following verses have been my two most leaned-on and loved verses of scripture. I would like to share them with you.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:28-29 (NIV)
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
I want to honor and glorify God with every painting I do! He has been my rock since I was 15 years old (63 years).