Artist Finds More Meaningful Way to Decorate Her Christmas Tree

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In 1992, Liz Lemon Swindle, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and well-respected artist began painting murals surrounding the life of the Savior.

Discovering a Gift

Using oil paints on linen, Liz says that a blessing she received from Elder Neal A. Maxwell gave her direction to know what she should paint.

“One of the things that he said in that [blessing] is that with these paintings oftentimes I’ll see many of them before I paint them, not in detail but conceptually I’ll get the idea and it always comes for me, not always but a good share, comes for me when I’m not quite awake in the morning… There isn’t a set pattern to it, but I would say overall much of it comes because of that blessing.”

This special blessing gave Liz new insight into how to bring Christ to life in her paintings. Liz’s talent was always there and was noticed at a young age. Liz’s first grade teacher brought her talent to light after letting her parents know that Liz had a bad habit of ‘tagging’ school property. Liz explained,

“[My teacher] was quite upset about it and well intended to get my father to channel this talent because right now it was just destructive. So my Dad went right to it. He was actually my first art teacher and he couldn’t draw worth a lick. But what he did do was make available to me books, so that I was looking at other artists. So he was very instrumental in it. Very encouraging, if I did any kind of art, he was always very praiseworthy.”

Putting Christ Back Into Christmas

Like most members of the Church, Liz loves the Christmas season, and especially the decorations.

I love the decorations of Christmas. I so want to put them up before Halloween. I’m way into the Christmas thing.

Liz shared one experience in particular that deeply affected her outlook on decorating for Christmas. Over the years she had collected a set of special edition fairy ornaments that she would hang on her tree. One year, she lent them to her staff to use to decorate the tree at the museum where most of her art is displayed and sold. Without the fairies, she realized she had no ornaments for her own tree. She explained,

“They took the entire collection and put them on this sixteen foot tree and it was beautiful in the gallery. But then I would come home from work, be it late, and there would be no Christmas tree. And I thought, OK I’ll just put something up… and I thought, you know, maybe I’ll just do some things of Christ. I’ll just go back to Modern Display or wherever and I’ll see if they’ve got anything that has to do with Christ. And there was nothing. There wasn’t anything that would hang on a tree. So I took some of my paintings, the tiny ones, and framed those and put them on the tree. I think that was all I had that year.”

She continued,

“But when I put those on my tree, something changed that fast when I saw it. It was like there was a different Spirit in the home, not that the other one wasn’t fun and wonderful, but there was something very sacred about it when I came home.

Because of this experience, Liz decided to let her gallery keep her once precious fairy collection, and stick to decorating with ornaments that would remind her of Christ.

And now the tree is so beautiful and every inch of it is filled with something to do with the Savior and his birth. I look forward to Christmas every year to put that tree up because that’s the kick off for Christmas and it’s just such a spiritual experience.

Sharing Testimony of the Savior

Liz hopes her testimony of Jesus Christ is felt by those who see her paintings.

“The art for me is, whether it’s the original or if it’s a print that someone is connecting with, it’s my testimony, it’s my way of telling you about the Savior. My hope is that people see the work and it somehow ignites something in their heart that either they’re missing something and they’d like to have that in their life or if they’re already there that it can just deepen and enhance it. So just to make people’s lives better, that’s really why we do it.”

For the full interview with Liz Lemon Swindle, watch the video above.

Whitney studied Communications with an emphasis in Broadcast Journalism at BYU. She also served as Miss Utah 2009 and spent her year promoting Children's Miracle Network, fundraising for anti-bullying/suicide prevention programs, and speaking to mutual groups.