Tonia Colleen Martin is an author, painter, and poet. She refers to her art making as Mining With A Feather, and believes writing to be an act of incarnation. Each book within the trilogy of her work is individually sealed but together reflects a variegated perspective on this question: “If we are all God’s free children, why are we living like slaves?” Personal upheaval experienced by Martin’s characters sends them home through caverns of loss lit by failure and broken splendor. Home’s door swivels on the hinge of surrender within walls of joy, fixed on humility, insulated by hope. Ultimately home is a Presence not a destination. Orphan thinking plagues all three of her main characters: Nisryn, in Blood Exodusbelieves she is unworthy of her freedom; Cloe, in The Frankincense Tree, steps into her brother’s madness thinking she can control it and Larissa, in The Society for the Prevention of Blindness, responds to her husband’s suicide by isolating and writing anonymous poems to God. In a universe where facts are at our fingertips, Martin’s work reveals the surprising equation: Knowledge does not equal power. Instead her work suggests the scandalous alternative of strength by way of humility. What she reveals through her written work she has also explored in the medium of watercolor and ink. Tonia Colleen Martin earned her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in Roseville, California. Her first two novels, Blood Exodus and The Frankincense Tree are complete. Her third, The Society for the Prevention of Blindness, is a work in progress. Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency represents Martin’s literary works.
Beauty for Ashes
Living naked spawns a pool of tears. Nakedness, unlike airbrushed nudity, reveals scars and imperfections. To live in the freedom of nakedness, we must surrender our definition of desirability into The Creator’s fire. In this position of surrender we guard against relapsing into placating nudity. In nudity’s ash, life blooms.
The Battle of the Bloom
After years of nurturing the soil, watering, fertilizing, waiting, waiting
and more waiting, a rather impressive bloom erupts. Unfortunately,
it quickly grew its tiny plot and must be transplanted to a more suitable
location. Though the sky is almost completely obscured, it is swathed
with a rainbow so rich in promise that overflows in rivulets of color.
Dragging the bloom over rough terrain, along the precarious ledge, the woman
maintains her grip and trusts the God of Abraham, Jacob and Issac to assist
her in her arduous labor.
Everlasting Supper (Watercolor and Ink)
This “remastered” masterpiece depicts Christ’s disciples as children.
Coupled with the shock of Messiah’s arrival as an infant,
was His subsequent declaration: “I’m telling you, once and for all,
that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re
not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in.”
(Matthew 18:3 The Message)
Given Messiah’s command of time and eternity, this painting reveals
a redeemed future by showing Christ’s foot on the serpent, the lion
at peace with the lamb, and the tattle-tale rooster has nothing to say.
(Watercolor and Ink)
What happens when the fireball in the sky lands in your dream and you have to listen to its flames? When you have to make sense of the blazing language that climbs up on your tongue and starts it wagging? I’ll tell you what happens, a light gets turned on. All those dark nights turn into summer and you begin to see why the shadows confused you. The fireball doesn’t have to be enormous, it just have to be hot, given the nature of fire you know that it is. You know it can burn you but it won’t. The fire will only burn the things that aren’t needed. Things like shame or fear or regret. Things like I wish I had not, I should have, I missed out on.... Once the fireball lands on your tongue you’ll be like those crazy people in Acts who knew about love. You’ll stop being cold, you’ll think about winter and how it won’t ever freeze you. You’ll realize how ridiculous it is to bundle up your desire. You’ll begin to yearn and stop caring about what is missing and why you can’t have it. You’ll start telling the truth and the feel the fire warm you on the inside where snow used to camp. You’ll act a little crazy when the fireball lands but it will be the kind of crazy that makes sanity jealous. People will circle around you just to stay warm and you won’t run out of blankets. I think the fireball was never meant to hide in the sky. I think it was meant to hide in you and me. It was meant to cause an uproar. To wake us up. To keep us hopping. To make us lie still. To undo us, to put us back together. All of this. All of it. All of that. The whole thing is ours. Its fire and its God and it is crazy and its good and now we can fan the flames and let it burn....let it alarm you. Good morning.
(Watercolor and Ink)
If God brought the world into being by the spoken word,
then surely the union between the God of the universe
and the Virgin of Mary was accomplished through song. In
the details of this painting one can see seeds and flowers
and all manner of winged creatures gathering in the
vortex of music and song.
My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord (Watercolor and Ink)
Just as incomprehensible and as real as God coming to us through
the virgin birth is the reality that Jesus Christ continues to live in
the life of every believer and at once in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Watercolor with ink, applied with brush and stick.
A collaboration of experience, intuition,
faith, despair and hope. Various motifs of Paris:
balloon, representing freedom, the Eiffel Tower
representing vision. Mont Martre, The Basilique
du Sacre Coeur, representing God’s provision.
The honeybee’s assigned positions are written in
French. The bee represents impossible flight;
the egg, new birth; the sword, severance.
The woman is newly betrothed to a future apart
from human endeavor. She reaches heavenward. Of
course the night in shining armor is our
Supreme Rescuer, the Prince of Peace, The Great
Physician, the Alpha and the Omega.
War of the Seasons –
(Autumn Reluctantly Waving, Spring Fever, Summer Protesting, Winter Resisting)
(4 paintings – Watercolor and Ink on rice paper)
Spring Fever, Autumn Reluctantly Waving
Good-by, Winter Resisting, Summer Protesting
“Now you will have noticed
that nothing throws him into a
passion so easily as to find a
tract of time which he reckoned
on having at his own disposal
unexpectedly taken away from him.”
The voice of Screwtape in C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters.
(Watercolor and Ink)
Refusing Despair, we surrendered to Hope.
We remembered our ruined stories, reviewed the disasters along the way.
Returning to depths of misconceptions, nearly drowning for fear of discovering
more than we could fix, but faith carried us forward.
We opened our eyes.
We unstopped our ears.
Truth showed us grief we ignored, crimes we witnessed, committed, swept under the rug.
We came to see lives broken by self-management and
at the same time embraced the friendship of clarity.
Using the mirror of longing,
we unearthed relics of desire in our prayers.
In the spring of our excavations, we found the children we suffered to be.
Discovered them isolated, cold, hungry.
We embraced them,
soothed them with listening,
cradled them with empathy.
We told them what we ourselves had forgotten and they had never heard –
“Tell us more.
Explain every detail.
We are listening.
We believe you.”
Now we become newer each day,
Eyeing the birds, receiving our daily bread,
Exchanging God’s peace for our lack.
Under the Almighty’s Wings
(Watercolor and Ink on Rice Paper)
The gesture of her hand against his back is an articulation of surrender.
He can't move her to the horizon, nor she move him to shore.
In the safety of companionship, they walk accusations off silent planks.
They want to know each other before everything, before the discrepancies
between what they had and what they believed gave them what they had.
But it is an impossible expectation. The braille of history says, “Pay attention.
Live this present story from the pockets of the future. Remember past failures
as opportunities for repentance. Intimacy comes by way of owning error. Hope
hides under the Almighty’s wings.”
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