Slow, it’s how we walk up the wide wooden staircase behind her, holding on to the spindles, and breathing in the era of grace. Stop on every third step while Janet explains each of her paintings hanging on the mahogany wall over our left shoulder. Like a docent telling us the secrets behind the brush strokes, we get the backstage tour of Tara by Scarlett herself.

I met Janet and Tom at a church dinner, on a picnic table over a bowl of steamy chili. She extends an invitation up two flights of steep white see-through, to the tree house over her garage that is her art studio. When I tell her about how I amuse myself with watercolors on the weekends, she offers some lessons for the price of conversation.

She and Tom left their upper crust Virginia home to retire on the water and I can see it in her eyes. The loneliness of pulling up roots leaves her a stump of her former flourish, hidden in a field of wild flowers.

Those meetings of brushes swirling pigment grows a friendship. She invites my Aunt Paula and me to lunch while she is in town. Paula, she feels the ache too. Of roots, dangling free clinched in a hand of new dirt.

Janet walks with scales weighing heavy on the right, leads us to the top floor, through stacks of books and ledgers lying open on tables of southern sprawl. Tom’s chair spins our direction and away from the computer screen like a monk hidden among the holy. His head tilts up to get a good look at the visitors traipsing through his bifocals and waves.

We’re on our way to the bathroom to look at another painting.

Huddled together among the pink tile, we admire green jar illumination holding flowers on a window ledge. That’s when I feel it. Drops of inspiration bleed into lonely crevices, filling up the longing.

Each painting drips with a chapter in the story of an artist that inspires courage and beauty.

My aunt flies back to Ohio, signs up for watercolor classes from a local artist, forms a weekly huddle in her basement with fellow pilgrims, and gives countless paintings away.  Many hang on my walls today.

And just like that day of tilted light when God took us on a walk to tell the story of what it means to live loved, to express love freely and give it away, He wants to uncover His imprint on you too. We need your art. 

It will be quiet here for a few days. I’ll be away at Laity Lodge for a Writers Retreat, meeting some friends in person that I’ve only known on-line, learning the art of a sentence from Lauren Winner. It’s my first, so I look forward to sharing what I discover with you next week.

And those paintings in this post? My Aunt Paula reads my blog, collects inspiration from the photos and paints a few of them to give away.

Looking for some inspiration to share your art? Read Emily Freeman’s  31 Days to Change the World Series at Chatting at the Sky, Amber Haines Monday posts on Writing, and Jeff Goins encouragement here.