Hillcrest Art Teacher’s Work Featured In Gallery
Seeds of Faith: Automatic Spirit Drawings by Brynjolf
“Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.” – J.R.R. Tolkien from On Fairy Stories – 1939
Around 10 years ago, I started drawing during sermons and special events. I did this for a couple reasons…
One aspect was my desire to approach the drawings as a spiritual disciple, almost like prayer or speaking in tongues. I would listen to the sermons and soak in the ideas and feelings. I then prayerfully asked God to guide my pencil and asked if he wanted to reveal something through that process. Each drawing started as scribbles, with nothing in mind. The drawings were not meant to be illustrations of the sermons, but were “birthed” in that environment – subliminally picking up the deeper meanings and feelings present. Eventually, the various marks formed into people, plants, or creatures as I continued working on them over time. Then the scene started taking shape until there was a cohesive story or idea that was revealed. I saw each work as being a sacred connection with God, so I am committed to each piece and I don’t judge any as inferior, but that by faith, I believe they will come together in God’s timing.
The other reason I drew each week was to also discipline myself to grow as an artist… to draw more and refine my skills. I also wanted to practice going from abstract compositions to more recognizable stories and meanings. I was training my eye to see patterns in the random doodles.
The idea of these random types of drawings can be traced at least back to World War 1, when an art movement was formed called “Dada”. They developed the term “automatic drawings”, which was a process involving the artist trying to empty their minds of all preconceptions and just randomly create. The images that resulted were often thought to be from the subconscious, or some random accidents pieced together that could range from hillarious to scary.
Unlike the Dada movement, I am intentionally submitting the process to God and inviting his spirit to guide me. I try not to censor what comes out. There are, however, a couple restraints I applied to the process…
One boundary was that the final meaning of each drawing needed to be planted in a fantasy world I am creating called “Seledor.” I have been working on content for this allegorical world for decades. (Along with a few friends have joined me from time to time.)
The other boundary I set for myself is to stylistically join with the Imaginative Realism movement. This term was coined by James Gurney in 2009, but retrospectively includes artists that trace back to the Renaissance in Europe (Hieronymus Bosch, Albrecht Durer, and later Gustave Doré to name a few).
In America, the movement can be traced back to Howard Pyle in 1898, who started the Brandywine School of Illustrators in Delaware and Pennsylvania. The movement is still alive today, as we see imaginative worlds being created by very talented artists often found working in movie studios, video game studios, and on board games. A few also work in publishing where they create covers for fantasy and science fiction novels. Thanks to the internet, artists who are interested in this movement can learn directly from each other and from the masters of the past who have passed on their insights to new generations.
Bryn Hovde is an artist and art teacher who teaches at Hillcrest Academy, and resides in Wellman, IA with his wife and two children. He received his undergraduate training at Goshen College in Art Education. His work and life draws from a variety of cultures and experiences, as he was born in New Mexico while his dad taught at a school on a Navajo reservation, lived as a missionary kid in Ethiopia while his family was with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM), and attended high school and college in the Midwest. He then taught art in Sarasota Florida at Sarasota Christian School, and worked for a number of years at an art gallery in Asheville, North Carolina.