I met Aya Kowata in a group chat with fellow artists from Created to Thrive Mentoring Group. As we have both spent time in each other’s native country I was interested to get to know her story a little more. She has graciously written today’s post which I am incredibly grateful for, because due to a darling daughter being rushed to hospital, I have been otherwise occupied. Said daughter is now home and doing well recuperating and Aya’s post is perfect timing as I catch up here. Everything works out well, doesn’t it?! So please enjoy Aya’s contemplations on gratefulness…
In contemplating on gratefulness, I must say I’m very grateful that I have now been
given the privilege to pursue art and become an artist.
The first half of my life had been met with many discouragements towards any creative
pursuit. My childhood was full of competitions for good grades at school, comparing and being
better than others at studies. I vaguely remember being very unhappy and having multiple
addictions in my teens and early twenties.
Yet I also remember always having a sketch book on me, being able to draw things
exactly the way they looked without any instruction. Nobody told me to do it, it was already
in me, a gift planted in me to create.
Then I met Jesus in my late twenties when I was staying
in New Zealand. The experience was so life-changing I could
no longer silence my creative voice. I bought painting supplies
and painted whatever I felt to. It was pretty rough and raw
but I didn’t really care. I was finally awakening to what God
meant me to be.
In looking back, the right kind of help came my way
whenever it was necessary. During my time in New Zealand, I
needed a lot of healing and encouragement towards creativity.
The environment I was in was definitely abundant in prayer,
encouragements and freedom to be who I was. New Zealand
was a stranger to conformity, a place where differences and
originality were respected, and I really thrived in it.
After returning to Japan, I started looking really into
developing my art. I found a wonderful acrylics art teacher
online called Will Kemp and started taking his courses. This
really allowed me to progress in my artistic skills. When I
started needing more direction as an artist, I found Matt
Tommey and his mentoring program where I was able to find
like-minded artist believers to encourage each other in becoming the artist God created us to
From there I found more people who can help me
go further in my artistic path. When I needed more
direction in painting more intuitively under God’s nudging,
I found Amy Smith and her abstract art workshops.
When I needed resources for painting my women and
landscapes series, I came across Erika Masterson, a
wonderful artistic photographer in her own field, who
offered her friendship and her photos. When I needed
feedback on my artwork in progress, I found Jan Tetsutani,
another great artist from Hawaii who became my good
friend and mentor. Last year, I was also given the
opportunity to enter a very competitive art exhibition
without really realizing what it was and was accepted for exhibition on the first go.
Most of all, I am grateful for having found something meaningful to do with my life.
Every artwork seems to be a message of love from our Heavenly Father for someone who comes
across it. God seems to be directing me meticulously every step of the way towards what He
has always wanted me to become. It has been an incredible journey and I have a feeling it is
far from finished.
Aya Vi Sophie Kowata