This watercolor portrait is titled, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31). The following is my theme statement about this painting for the exhibition, “Courage in Many Shapes and Forms,” which is on display from March 8-30, 2023. Join me for the opening reception on March 8, 2023 from 5:30-7:30 pm at the Columbia Art Center in Long Reach Village Center.
Exhibition Theme Statement
For this exhibition, I chose to paint a portrait of my grandmother (Gema). I had already started sketching this portrait before I heard about the show, but when I saw the theme, “Courage in Many Shapes and Forms,” I felt it would be a good fit.
In November 2022, Gema underwent cardiac arrest from a pulmonary embolism and became unresponsive while on a trip to visit relatives. After a brief trip to the emergency room, she seemed to have stabilized, but within a few hours her heart had stopped again. Her condition was extremely fragile–she was physically weak and unable to walk without going into cardiac arrest. We thought we would hear the news of her passing at any moment given her condition. Yet she survived. Even the doctors said it was a miracle she didn’t die. Now, a few months later, by God’s grace, she is still alive and now slowly making progress to get her body stronger. In the midst of a terrifying and painful situation, she is persevering in faith and taking steps forward little by little.
This piece is inspired by her faith and a passage in Isaiah 40 that speaks on this very subject. The stars in the background reference God’s sustaining power. Just as God holds and preserves each star by His mighty strength (Isaiah 40:26), He also holds Gema’s life in His hands. The title comes from the verse, “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles…” (Isaiah 40:31a). Even though humans are weak and frail, the promise is sure, because it rests on God’s power, not theirs. This is the hope that my Gema has, and this is her courage. Courage in the face of adversity, courage in weakness. So often we think of courage as being strong or fearless or doing something noteworthy. But sometimes courage is simply acknowledging our own fragility and pressing on through fear, by faith in the One who never grows tired or weary. Gema’s courage does not come from her own strength, but from the strength of her God.