When I uploaded this one to YouTube today, I was thinking about how art is a language that fills in the gaps. How can we think with both emotion and logic at the same time? How can we see the science of DNA while also seeing the divine hands of our Creator? The painting of the baby in this video is just blobs of paint, but when arranged a certain way, our brains see a pattern that forms a picture, and we understand what the paint is showing us.
So many times, we try to communicate our feelings about the Miracle of Life, and it may come across as only science, or only emotion/abstract/spiritual. It may come across angry or judgmental. But what if we could express ourselves in colors and movement? Maybe then we could express harmony, passion, and a true love for humanity: goodwill and sovereignty for all living beings.
Aww, sweet story… my daughter does freelance and commission work. She usually works with data or websites- she has a Math degree, but sometimes she does art related work or something unusual. Today it was something unusual. She was assigned the task of typing a love letter on behalf of a client for her husband. She (likely an elderly person as most on that client list are) wanted her husband to have a professionally transcribed letter from her cursive handwriting. This is for Christmas. Aww, it just warms my heart. I love this story, don’t you? Thought you’d like hearing this simple little thing that inspires us to feel good about humanity.
That’s all for today. The progress on the show is going very well, right on track! Good night, dear friends. Sleep well. God bless and keep you, may His face shine upon you, and give you peace.
I’ll be working on new projects this week. These projects require that I be in high energy, full of light and positivity, and confident in what I’m sharing. This can be hard to live up to when I’m feeling worn, discouraged, demoralized, and doubtful about the future. Any vocation is harmed when we don’t put our full and best selves into it. Our energy goes beyond careers or projects and into our homes and relationships as well. A big part of our future success, fruitfulness, prosperity, and influence for inspiring others requires that we live a life of healthy balance.
A great deal of my painting schedule is the time that I spend when I’m not painting. My choices affect who I am, and if I can be the person I need to be to produce the kind of work that I’m meant to share. Or, if I’m so consumed with my small life that I can’t create beyond my own needs and inner circle. And sometimes that’s all that’s expected of us: there are times when we must prioritize ourselves and our families. No one has regrets about work on their death bed. It’s the people we love and the dreams we didn’t act on that really matter, those are the things we may regret.
We all have a role in the bigger picture beyond what we can see; and our personal dreams may be important to the age we’re living in. Work must be a vocation; everything should have meaning. I’ve worked many other types of jobs, and I felt the same about those jobs as I do about being an entrepreneur, even when I hated those jobs. It’s something my dad used to say: “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” He was pushing for integrity and excellence, but I’d like to think about this as something more. Whatever we’re given to do, if we don’t do it well, it is not worth doing at all, as it wastes our life’s energy and brings our spirits into a rut that can be hard to come out of.
Whether seemingly trivial projects or something more meaningful, everything we share becomes a part of something bigger. When we contribute goodwill, we add to the collective positive energy that helps humanity. When we fail to contribute, or when we contribute negative, fearful, and unemphatic work or actions, we hurt humanity. Our lives are bigger than ourselves; we must strengthen who we are so that we can fulfill the purpose for why we are here.
So, while it doesn’t seem related to my goals as an artist, when I spend time gardening and feeding the wild birds, I am putting work into my spiritual self, which is a big part of whether or not I succeed in my vocation. When in healthy balance and feeling strong, we can better handle the demands on our time, whether it is home related or work related- or handling unexpected crises events.
After a flurry of other things to focus on and manage, I’m ready to re-focus on the painting schedule. One of the paintings on the schedule is a long term project, the other is a short term one that I’ll likely share with you by the end of the week. These will put me two more oil paintings toward my lifetime goal of 1k finished paintings. I’m also working on the next show, the 2021 Holiday Show (another variety show featuring live oil painting, but also singing and dancing).
My goals are to be joyful, encouraging, and a reminder that you are loved, that you were born to love others, and that love is the greatest blessing we shall ever have. When we focus on the love from those we lost, from those we nurture, and from those who love us, we live in gratitude. No darkness can swallow this light. It is a gift that shines in the deepest pit. It is a light that pulls us through excruciating pain, intense anxiety, and the starkest of fear. It is my hope that my work inspires you.
Some of my work is casual, average, mediocre, or unfinished and rough. Some of it is just a frog or an odd composition for a project. But every now and then, I paint a masterpiece, as defined by the person who connects with it and feels understood. When my work becomes something bigger than myself, I have done what I’m meant to do. It is with this in mind that I paint the next project, and the next, knowing that not all of my art will hit the mark, but each painting is one painting toward the ones that do.
You might remember when I painted this one and shared it in early April? At that time I hoped that the world would have sorted a few things out by the end of summer, and obviously that didn’t happen. But through it all, I try to share happy things when I can. Is there such a thing as “Happy Grief”? In my experience, yes, there is.
When we share hardships collectively as humans traveling in the same time line (those of us currently alive on this planet, spanning four or five generations across the globe) we may feel a special connection with humanity that is unique; and known only by people who experience the crisis together. Of course we may need to be “on the same side”, however we may define that to be. Connection is based on kinship, and that doesn’t happen with those who rule in dominion over us, or with those we perceive as in alignment, enforcement, or loyal to the ideology of those we are oppressed by. We do not bond with our abusers, but we develop intimacy with fellow travelers on the same journey. This is part of the “Happy” side of grief. Feeling close to fellow humans makes us happy.
Another aspect of “Happy Grief” is due to the extreme emotions. When our lows are very low, when our spirits try to counter-correct and restore balance, we swing to the other extreme- very high; happiness, joy, elation, bursts of creativity, optimism, and overall confidence that “everything’s gonna be alright”. We may feel surprisingly nostalgic and have vivid flashbacks to times, places, and people from years ago, or even many years ago. We may then take an abrupt turn in mood, as we remember people we’ve lost, and a world that used to be, but is no more.
During these extreme mood swings, we may land somewhere in the middle, but it’s not an ordinary kind of middle. It’s the middle that happens between highs and lows of crisis grief. In this sacred space, we find the greatest treasure in “Happy Grief”. We feel certain of what is most important in life. We know the secret of happiness, and it’s not things or work or relationships that we do not choose. It’s a secret that many elderly people already know: happiness comes from doing what we want to do.
When we see time as precious, vulnerable, and fleeting; when we feel that our future is uncertain and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed; when we can’t trust that the world we know today will still be there tomorrow… we live differently. We live with intention. We choose to spend time with the people we truly love, and have little patience for time wasted on those we do not enjoy being with. We structure our days differently. We are more willing to do productive work like gardening, baking, or making something homemade without thinking we should be doing work that pays an income or we should be doing nothing at all. Why work if there’s no pay check? Because productive work is happy work, and when we do something productive we are often rewarded with adventure, a pleasant outcome, and connection with others. These things make humans happy.
When we live life with intention, instead of scurrying along each day on a schedule to get each thing done, every item checked off a list, prioritizing meeting the expectations of others, putting paid work ahead of anything else- then we start to live on our own terms. We remember who we really are, and we may wonder why we squandered so much of our life trying to please others and doing what was expected instead of what we want to do. We may wish we had “one more day” with someone we lost. We may feel overwhelmed with regret or pangs of longing.
As the grief emotions sweep over us, we can channel these highs and lows into something good that improves our lives forever. Do that thing you’ve always wanted to do. Be that person you’ve always wished you could be. “Live as if there’s no tomorrow. Love as if we’re on borrowed time.” It’s not just a catchy phrase or song lyrics, it’s real. And we know it’s real when we are in a state of “Happy Grief”. That is what I meant by Happy Grief. Because, when we live as if there’s no tomorrow, we finally learn how to be happy. May we take this precious awareness into a post-grief season, and never forget. But, of course, the grief season must end before the healing can begin. I will pray for deliverance, and I will pray for YOU. I do not need to know who you are to do this. Prayer is powerful. I need only to care. God bless you and your families.
You might remember that I finished the 2021 collection “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Nature“? I said I’d reveal what the 2021 collection is at a later time, and that time is NOW. :::drum roll please:::
The 2021 collection is called “Seasons” (of Life and Nature). Paintings in this collection celebrate seasons of life (metaphorical, representational, or inspired-by-real-life scenes about milestones, rites of passage, and shared human experiences of love, aging, family, and beyond) as well as seasons of nature (literal scenes depicting autumn, summer, fall, and winter).
The first oil painting in the collection is “Generational Tree“, which is a good transition from the Nature collection to the Seasons one, since it is a piece that could have been in either. “Generational Tree” represents the passage of time; how the elders in a family reside at the top of a mature tree and are the branches which through the ages become fragile and one day fall away- yet the branches below are healthy and strong, tender new twigs will continue to grow, and the roots created long ago will give life to this family for many years to come.
I’m very excited about this new collection because I’m going to lay my heart out through my paintbrushes. I didn’t look at any reference, photo, prompt, or even out a window for “Generational Tree”. I listen to your comments, and something one of you said about free painting settled into my brain and encouraged my soul to do more of this style of painting, in which I don’t restrain and constrain my art. I’m not saying I’ll never look at a reference for guidelines on proportions, perspective, or details (especially if wanting to get markings and anatomy correct when painting animals, people, and other identifying subjects), but my previous collections were probably 70% or higher art that was planned, used a reference, and was held to the boundaries of the project goals. I’d like to decrease that to 50-60%.
“Generational Tree” was of course a safe project for free painting because it’s simply a tree and a basic landscape (very organic, nothing precise about it). But I’d like to challenge myself and remove the safety net more often. I will still look at a reference when painting specific people when I want to capture a resemblance, but there’s no reason to look at a picture of a person when I’m painting an imaginary person.
But the decision to free paint more often is not really what I meant by laying my heart out. The theme of this new collection lends itself to meaningful work that I will be personally invested in, in a deeply emotional way. That will show in my art if I let myself be an instrument of the source of where creativity, expression, and raw (not taught, born with- or suddenly gifted with, such as after an accident, grief or a diagnosis, etc… in other words, a blessing) talent comes from. Arrogance has no place in art. Art is a language meant to share empathy with humanity. It is not meant to be hoarded or controlled by elites. It is not meant to be restricted to only the select chosen. It is not meant to be about the artist, the possessors of art, or the gatekeepers who decide which art gets seen.
Art speaks to people in ways that we can’t put into words. It is my lifelong desire to let my life be used to heal others. When people see something in my paintings that feels like a message of hope for their own lives, or a whisper from God “I see you”, or a confirmation of faith in humanity… that in a dark world, we still have light, love, compassion, and a deep desire for goodwill for all mankind, it’s beyond myself- it is a personal connection between the viewer and the art that no longer belongs to me. It’s a lofty goal, to be an instrument of healing, but I am honored to strive for this to be my lasting legacy. I’ll also paint lighthearted projects, not everything will feel so heavy. Look for a few paintings that are simply fun.
Thank you for being a part of my journey toward my lifetime goal of 1k finished oil paintings. Along the way, I hope that one of my thousand paintings (years from now!) will make a difference in your life. You are loved by God, and you are never alone. If I can remind you of that, then it’s been a good day.
Watch this deer oil painting come to life in 2 minutes, and then see below for the real life video I took today!
Even when humanity is having a bad day, a dark day, a day of violence and unspeakable horror, nature goes on as if untroubled by the woes of mankind. Chaos and evil may rule our minds, yet the seasons pass undisturbed, giving us hope that we will feel peace once again. This is what I saw today. There is a magical moment at the end when eye contact is made. May you too experience this second, in which your breath stops, as you too make eye contact with peace on Earth, as fleeting as that beauty may be.
If you missed my new painting show announcement, here it is! Have a happy Independence Day, no matter where you live. Freedom is for all persons, and is a right of humanity. Be brave, be strong, be FREE!
All photos in the slideshows are of my own family and places I’ve been. Most of the pictures are my own photography (except for the ones that I’m in, and the photos from Germany and Iraq taken by my husband or his fellow soldiers). This is my American story. I hope that you can see how much I love America, and why.
Wherever life finds you, find a way to love your home. The ground beneath your feet must never be condemned, lest you condemn yourself and your neighbors. The blessing to be alive for another new day is a privilege awarded to all who live and breathe.
My new painting featured in the 4th of July show is called “Americana“. See the art page for a 2 minute time lapse version to watch me paint it, and/or options to purchase prints.
When artists paint a diary of their lives, their work may be recognized globally, regionally, or locally. “Flag at Tybee Island” is a famous icon, as it is displayed on the only road to or from Tybee Island, Georgia. Tybee’s beaches attract tourists worldwide, and because the Internet brings every corner of the globe to the far reaches of the Earth, one doesn’t need to visit a place to be familiar with it.
This particular icon was also given international publicity. The flag was featured in major media after police officers rescued it from flood waters after a hurricane. That news story was then distributed widely online. So, while I painted this scene because it is my personal happy milestone telling me and my family that we are nearing our favorite weekend place, it is globally identifiable. When I posted this art online with no description, someone recognized it immediately as the flag from the Tybee Island roadside. What may be a personal “diary share” in the artist’s mind, may be globally recognized.
When paintings depict objects, people, or events that aren’t globally recognized, they may still be regionally identifiable. “Floral Cross” was inspired by a table display I admired on Easter morning at a new church I was attending. Each guest was invited to place real cut flowers into the cross display. I’d never experienced this beautiful Easter service ritual before, but the same experience was shared by all who attended that service, and was likely heard of throughout the region.
Even the things we see in our own backyards may be recognized, at least locally. I enjoy this little guy who comes to our patio hummingbird feeder often. He seems like “our” tiny wild pet, but he is of course an ordinary common bird belonging to nature. “My” backyard birds are all over the neighborhood, and little birds identical to him are local visitors to everyone in the surrounding area at the same time, as we share the same seasons, specific environmental conditions, and localized weather impacts.
When artists paint the things that they see in their daily lives as a shared diary of sorts, their work may be relatable on a global, regional, or local scale. However, spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally, any shared art can still be relatable, even if the viewer doesn’t recognize or connect with the painting through personal experience or prior knowledge. The beauty of sharing our personal lives with others is that we often find that other people have experienced similar joys, sorrows, and the full range of emotions that make us human. When we share our humanity, we are never alone.