The road less travelled is the road of persistence. It’s the path of those who do not give in, no matter what. It’s the path that rises to meet the strong overcomer: the one who walks through fire and flood with goodness and mercy all their days.
I began this large-scale painting January 2020 when our land was ravaged by bushfires then overwhelmed by floods, just before CV19 hit the world. Then I simply called it Fire and Flood, but now the canvas has evolved as the stories of persistence have unfolded. M. Scott Peck’s classic book was the beginning of “newfangled” psychology reaching the mainstream and leading people to a higher level of self-understanding, and overcoming challenges through accepting individual responsibility, discipline, love and grace. “The Road Less Travelled” was the beginnings of emotional intelligence.
The painting is also a play on Matt 7:13-14 ‘But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’
May you find your road. (Hint: it’s probably not where you think it is)
Title: “The Road Less Travelled”
Artist: Wendy Manzo
Size: 122 cm x 122 cm
Medium: Atelier acrylics on professional canvas
Painted: Creative Hearts Art Gallery studio – completed 29 April 2021
When I prayed for these beautiful young people on the morning of their wedding, thoughts of the separate worlds of the earthly and spiritual realm and the three-stranded cord came to mind.
As I painted I felt the full weight of support for this couple from both realms: the people who surround them in the natural, and the heavenly host, the great cloud of witnesses, cheering them on as they run their race.
The tree represents Casey-Lee and Izaacc as individuals, entwined and abiding in the Holy Trinity. The three-stranded cord. Each nourished and protected by the same source – with roots deeply planted in the foundation of their faith. The three, of course, symbolic of the trinitarian relationship. I wrote “3 in 1” on the canvas before I began. They are never alone as in God they are always connected. Always three in one. Even when there’s a ‘disconnect’ in daily married life, as sometimes happens in any marriage journey, the golden cord is not broken.
The three stranded cord (Ecc 4:12) is often used in wedding ceremonies but I felt there was a further aspect for Casey-Lee and Izaacc – with the three representing the symbiotic relationship between them “as one”; the earthly realm; and the spiritual realm.
The left side of the tree represents the myriad of family and friends supporting them. Blue represents humanity and healing, and pink is the colour of joy. The right side is the entry to the heavenly realm. Gold represents divinity and glory, and purple is the colour of royalty.
I was adding the finishing touches as the newlyweds were having photographs taken by the river bank, and suddenly the setting sun hit the canvas through the trees and a glorious gold appeared. It was unbelievably beautiful and I felt heaven’s approval over Casey-Lee and Izaacc.
Ecc 4:12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
Size: 102cm x 76cm. Medium: Atelier acrylics on professional canvas
Painted: Wedding ceremony Casey-Lee Morris and Izaacc Brewer 16th April 2021
Did you know there’s such a thing as an ice volcano? I did not. When the Lord gave me this image a few days ago, with the phrase – and it didn’t go away by Sunday, I figured I had better ask Him what it means. At first I thought of a volcano spitting the usual fire and brimstone and googled images, but then … an ice volcano? Perhaps the Lord is saying don’t let appearances deceive you. I discovered that ice volcanoes spit out ice! With immense force.
As I painted the “immense force” part struck a chord, and it is His glory that is coming forth. Not in a slow-flow like lava, but in extreme eruptive activity! The word He gave is “expect the unexpected”, not only appropriate because it is the title of one of my favourite of Narelle Crabtree’s sermons and David Crabtree was preaching at Glory City, but because amidst this season of global contagion disaster, the unexpected is exactly what we should expect from our God. Nobody expects icy mountains to erupt. No one expects icebergs to be anything more than a chunk of ice. These cryovolcanoes are even found on other planets.
As I painted, the sheer unapproachable, hostile barrenness became more evident, yet it hides what is happening deep within. I believe the Lord is saying, “Don’t look with your eyes”. In the last few minutes I changed the foreground of the painting. It became like an ice floe pathway. I felt the Lord saying “I will show you the way through”.
Several people gave me explanations of what they had seen (if you were one of those, please send me what you told me, and I’ll add it in the comments) – they were powerful interpretations.
Post Script: Well, what can I say, we all know what happened the week after this was painted. The world went into a crazy spin of Covid19 responses.
Title: Expect the Unexpected Size: 90cm x 90cm Medium: Acrylic on Canvas Painted: Live at Glory City Church, 15th March 2020
I feel the word is HOPE rising from the ashes. This is the first canvas I painted for 2020. Began before “City on Fire” and finished after, it is a partner to the story. It is the sequel to Australia’s bushfire crisis.
Bursting from the flames, regenerated, reborn: the life cycle begins again. At times we feel beyond the ability to recover, but the human spirit finds a way. There is always a new day rising. The ancient mythical phoenix symbolizes the innate nature of humanity to rise above diversity. Hope is our most valued treasure.
Size: 140cm x 77cm Medium: Atelier and Matisse acrylics on professional canvas Painted: 13/1/20 & 23/1/20 at Creative Hearts Art gallery, Australia Fair, Gold Coast Queensland.
The morning began with feeling I needed to paint over old canvases rather than selecting new ones, so I locked myself into that feeling by choosing only two painted canvases to take to DaySpring morning service worship. As usual, I did not have an inkling of what I would paint. As I prepared in rehearsal time, many commented “oh I love that” about the paintings sitting beside the easel, followed by a “huh???” when I said I was painting over it. It is hard to explain without sounding arrogant, but it is something like letting go of the good to make room for the great. It’s a ‘knowing’ about what you have to do without knowing why, the trust kicks in, trusting that tyou have heard correctly.
During pre-service prayer I was really drawn to Chloe, our lead singer’s, necklace and asked her if I could photograph it. I just had the word ‘crowned’ in my mind. We prayed the child-like joy of saying “up daddy!’ to our heavenly Father. As I played with the paint, a tiara or crown of sorts started to form … so that’s what I painted. The gemstones formed by the underpainting are Opals. I am about to embark on a journey to the Outback, so how appropriate are Opals?!! Then I felt a strong sense that this was AUSTRALIA’s crown.
Now I look at the underpainting and its symbolism… and I’m amazed at how God puts these things together, especially as I am so unaware at the time. (Hmmm, no comment please!) The underpainting is “Tall Ships” which was painted live in DaySpring worship in 2013 and celebrated the fleet in Sydney’s Darling Harbour at that time. I had painted the ship as a ‘ghost’ of the past of our Australian heritage, and the fireworks as a celebration of the future. I see this painting as symbolic of the ‘greening’ (new life) of Australia, and the country rising to its rightful place of kingdom royalty. And, David Crabtree preached on “We are Royalty”. (Of course!)
I felt privileged to paint alongside of several artists at Friends First Church in Melbourne, including Robert Gerlach and other students from our prophetic art workshop at Stairway Church, Whitehorse, the previous day. Friends First is renown for embracing their church as a family, and they certainly made me feel accepted and welcome.
We set up early while the band rehearsed and I remembered a quick sketch I had done a few months ago depicting a flaming guitar. I felt it was the time to paint that image. During the pre-service prayer I kept noticing the young guitarist, and I took a photo of his guitar. The painting came quickly and easily and I sensed a healing presence in the sounds of worship that morning. I’ve often spoken about the colour of sound and the sound of colour. In heaven, colours have a sound and you can see music. Those who have preached about quantum physics have often spoken about a sound that resonates in our DNA where the molecules in our bodies are aligned with the Kingdom, and in that place healing occurs. After the service I learned that the church were recording their first album and the young guitarist was instrumental in the writing of the songs. I believe the painting was a confirmation of healing anointing on this album.
It was a big week in many aspects, the least insignificant of which was Pour It Out’s full week of prayer nights calling forth revival. I am still processing the prophetic meaning of this painting, but here I will share the process with you.
In prayer preparation that morning I was listening for any direction on what I would paint, and having heard nothing I was happy to ‘wing it’ as I know painting angels always appear.
I was staying with Ben and Jodie Hughes. In their kitchen before leaving for church, I noticed the image on a cereal box. It was milk being poured into a bowl and the cereal sloshing from the edges. I questioned whether I was just noticing the ‘pour-it-out-ness’ of the image or whether God was wanting me to paint the pour-it-out concept again. Admittedly I muttered quietly ‘oh no’, but I felt a quick sense of … yes, more pouring it out.
The next image I noticed was the antlers of a stag holding a sphere. I had a sense of the sphere as a globe of the world, kinda felt ‘pouring it out from heaven (like the milk) into the world’ made sense, and I also sensed a fullness somewhat like how an egg fills the shell when you crack it open. On arrival at church I asked a friend for an image of Australia.
Armed with these three images I was ready to start. During the pre-service prayer Jodie saw cracking eggs being poured over my head in the spirit. Fun eh!
The painting evolved …. as always not what I start with, but always in the direction He takes me in. Worship was deep and off the charts. Ben and Keely Hughes leading alone but somehow sounding like a full band with an angelic choir (that was Lauren Darlington on BV). I had plenty of worship time to paint (an hour) and could have stopped and had a finished painting several times. I just kept adding details as I saw them in my mind. I almost didn’t add the Australia map but in the last few minutes knew it belonged in the picture.
After worship I kept being drawn into the painting. The ‘antlers’ took on an embryonic form. The globe looking more and more like an egg. The connectedness of Australia as the ‘Apple of His eye’ and the glory gold being poured from heaven. Then I just knew – it was what we had been praying about this week. The birth of revival. At that moment Ben Hughes began speaking about the revival in Hebrides being birthed in prayer. Hallelujah.
Don’t you love how God works?!!
Oh! PostScript. After the service we were gathered around the painting sharing what God had spoken to us about it. Always the greatest feeling to hear how He connects with each heart. Then suddenly the spotlight shining up onto the painting from the floor was turned off, and the gold just leapt from the canvas. It came alive! I just laughed. It was still speaking in the dimmer lights. Such a word in that thought! Also Pour It Out often just use dim lights and candlelight so it is appropriate that the painting glows when the lights are off. (And yes, the dim light you see in these pics is the lighting that I painted in.) Selah.
Post Post Script: The summer following this painting. Ben and Jodies Hughes led 90 days of Revival meetings on the Sunshine Coast, known affectionately as The Pineapple Revival, named after the venue in which it occurred – The Big Pineapple.
In my personal prayer and inspiration time a few days before painting with Linzi Carter at Victory Life Centre in Perth, a few images were highlighted to me … the branch, a white silhouette, the passionate figure of an intercessor, and a pear. When I heard Marika Court was preaching on PASSION, I was excited to be painting and “naturally” thought of the intercessor image. Explosive passion! I painted the word Passion on the canvas pre-service.
I began by painting white in the background, thinking I could silhouette the ‘passionate’ figure but found my brush dancing along a branch, next thing I noticed the formation of a pear. I stepped back from the canvas to worship. I looked again at the canvas and “saw” blood dripping over the pear. I needed to add red paint! I asked as I painted … ‘What is it Lord?’ and felt the words “all your fruit is under the blood, all your work is under the blood”.
Later as I listened to Marika speak about running our race, I pondered the meaning of pear. The cliche symbolism of fertility, fruit of the spirit, nourishment and longevity – although seemingly good and right – did not sit well. All I could think of was the Cockney rhyming slang “Apples and pears, climbing stairs”. Well climbing stairs is hard work for me! So what was the message of this painting??!!
The Spirit spoke to me about the futility of performance and striving, and how to produce fruit the pear tree simply rests in its identity and the fruit comes in its season.
Marika spoke about what is required to run … to get up every day and run the race … to continue to pound the ground day after day with the same pace … it didn’t scream PASSION!!! The painting didn’t scream PASSION!!! But both the preaching and the painting expressed the quiet inner strength of passion that doesn’t scream but speaks to the heart “keep going, keep going, keep going… I know the road is tough and the going is hard, but don’t give up… Trust the process … keep going, keep growing, and put all your efforts under the blood of Jesus, and you will run your race til the finish line, and you will produce glorious fruit easily”.
The painting is about persistence, longevity, and true strength.