The update to yesterday’s post “Feeling Froggy?” is: no. No, the home owner is not willing to extend our lease by one month so that we can rent a house that isn’t available until June. We must be out by May 31, period. They want to sell and are concerned they’ll miss the housing spike window. Understood. So, I’ll have to put myself into the right mindset to take on this challenge of finding a new place to rent before then. Rents are so high, it’s absurd! We would be paying DOUBLE what we pay now in some cases. We might end up living an hour and a half away from where my family needs to be for work/school and it will even then still cost us a few hundred dollars more in rent than we currently pay.
This is rather heartbreaking because we have worked so hard to rebuild our lives and are only a few months away from buying a house. This could sink us and make us stuck in a rental for who knows how long. I will make sure that doesn’t happen! But, the fear is real.
I’ll have to live by my own words, when I previously featured this lion and lamb painting in a blog post about balancing the attributes of the character of a lion with the character of a lamb. This was the part about fear:
When I’m unsure of what to do, I ask myself “is this an action of faith or fear?” If I’m aligned with the character and attitudes of a lion and a lamb, then my decision is based on faith. If I’m not adhering to those traits, then I’m likely responding in fear.
Fear is a healthy and normal response, but our actions cannot be ruled by it.
Yesterday’s post called “HONK!” is wistful, expressing the simple desire to be as free as the Canadian Geese I painted. Today, I feel more like this snarling lion, as I’ve read so many angry stories and my own personal events are infuriating too. The vibe I’ve picked up from most of you is the same.
Whether it’s minor irritations that drip, drip, drip into our spirits like a maleficent faucet, or major frustrations that drench us like a scathing bucket of frothing malice dumped on our heads, fury is contagious and dangerous. If we don’t protect ourselves, we may drown in our own stress and anger. And when we collectively feel rage and despair, we bring each other down as individuals.
When I find myself drawn into the chaos for too long, I pull the plug and take a break from the madness. Balance is healthy. If you feel yourself sucked in, not living your own life, and paralyzed by news events, it may be time to take back your purpose. YOU matter. You matter as a sovereign human being, whose private situations and emotions are known only to God. No matter how big and how grand the global battles may be, they are never too big to diminish your struggles, your pain, your frustrations, your hurt, or your hope for a better day.
Stay strong and know that you are loved. God bless and keep you this day and always. May the sun shine upon your face.
This lion painting has had several changes of music. This is the latest version for YouTube. The emotional vibe is entirely different, depending on what soundtrack is used. And even within the same piece the dynamics of the music change as well, bringing drama to the painting.
Have you experienced times in your life in which you expected or wanted a change, an outcome, a shift in status, or successful progress toward something you’d been hoping for… only to find that change seems non-existent or very, very slow? Years later, did you look back and realize that some of the things that you thought went no where, were actually training for the very thing you wanted to happen?
It turns out that when I was blogging away, without my awareness of it, I was coming up with show concepts for my new vlog series (that I didn’t even know I was doing until a few weeks ago). And I can only do this series if I have a large collection of work. So it’s a good thing then that I finished painting after painting, after painting. Dozens. Fifty. A hundred. Now hundreds, I think. I have lost count. 200?
My life is changing, but I hardly notice it. It’s not overnight. It’s in every paint stroke. It’s in every keystroke. It’s in every day that I never give up. Opportunities come to me, and I’m astonished that I’m uniquely prepared! It turns out that when I thought “nothing” was happening, a slow change was building.
That’s YOU. If you want something, work toward it. If you work toward your dreams one day at a time, a slow change will take place. When we put ourselves in motion, it may take a long time to get where we’re going, but one day we’ll look back from on top of the hill and say, wow, it was a long climb, but we’re finally able to stand at the top and look down at everything it took to get here. And then… it will be time to climb a mountain!
I last shared this art in a blog post called “Guardians“, which was about protectors and believing in spiritual protection. That’s a big idea sort of post. Today was much more down to earth. I was trying to accomplish a lot of things in a short space of time. I was more like a caged zoo lion than this winged one. I felt like I couldn’t get off the ground.
But when lions fly, nothing is impossible! I managed to finish my new painting and I’ll post it tomorrow. I also got about half the things on my list done. The problem is that I kept looking at the the things I haven’t done instead of the things I did. So much of our prosperity and happiness depends on perspective. When we think we accomplish little, little is the result. When we think we can fly, we do!
I did a series of blog posts related to this painting: “Are you a lion or a lamb?“, “Be a lion“, and “Be a lamb“. But today I’m thinking of the traits meek and mighty. As we reflect on the week ahead, in which areas of our lives do we choose to be meek, and which areas do we choose to be mighty?
My personal focus is to be meek when it comes to control, and mighty when it comes to power. I want to let go of those things I can’t control. I have done my best, and that’s all that is expected of me. Humility allows us to accept that we are not capable of all things, and that others have gifts and callings that we do not. We are not always the best person for all jobs. We are only asked to play our part, not to worry about responsibilities that belong to others.
But when it comes to those responsibilities that belong to us, may we be mighty in power to do what’s asked of us with strong energy, a positive mindset, and a spirit of hope. Whether our roles are rooted in servitude, like cleaning up after others, or performing other acts that seem “low”, but need to be done (and are perhaps unpaid tasks), or whether attempting big projects and lofty goals, may we be gracious in accepting the work given to us and do it well.
Productive work is a human right. It creates a sense of purpose, which leads to happiness, peace, and health. Focusing on the work we’re asked to do, and letting go of responsibilities that are not ours, also leads to happiness, peace, and health, because we manage stress, reduce anxiety, fear, resentment and depression; and we sleep better at night. May we be meek about control, but mighty in power. God bless you this week and always.
You might remember when I painted the snarling lion in the video above, as it was fairly recently (August). Perhaps you see him as growling or even roaring. Although his mouth is not wide open in a roar, some of you may see beyond what is there.
Are you feeling like this lion? Do you feel a tension that is roaring, snarling or? Maybe you feel something else. Maybe you resonate more this THIS lion:
Proverbs 28:1 “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
I was inspired by the grief of injustice. When crime that is far reaching, affects human beings worldwide, and hurts so many innocent people, is perpetuated, orchestrated, and covered up by powerful persons, entities, and governments, it’s in our nature to have moments in which we feel righteous anger, courage, and the quiet strength of a lion who is observing, unseen. He’s watching. He’s biding his time. One day he may be surrounded by hyenas, and if that day comes, he will be bold.
We may hope to never be that lion ourselves. We may feel as trusting as child, that there’s a lion out there who will protect us. All we need to do is take care of our families and stay out of the way when the time comes.
There is something about the sadness and wisdom in the eyes of the silent lion that resonates with me more than the snarling lion. The power that is yet to be seen can be more chilling than the power revealed. Humanity has great power. When we collectively desire goodness, mercy, and justice, we shall have it. God bless you and your families.
A guardian lion statue is meant to symbolize prosperity and protection and is usually installed on behalf of a city or a wealthy person’s home. I was inspired to paint a fantasy representation of the resin winged lion statue in Savannah, Georgia. I imagined the lion standing at the edge of a cliff, guarding the land from whatever darkness may threaten its shores.
The real Georgian shoreline isn’t lined with cliffs, but the imagery is meant to universally apply in a spiritual sense, in any way that the viewer chooses. The concept of Guardians is appealing and comforting. Don’t we wish that such a winged lion exists, who will protect us, and keep us prosperous?
Believing in a spiritual protector and a God who blesses us requires faith. Wouldn’t it be easier if we could see something tangible, maybe as obvious as a golden winged lion? And yet, sometimes, faith comes as easily as this. There are times in our lives when darkness and fear overtakes us. In that dark place we may feel absolutely certain of the presence of a spiritual guardian, of angels, divine intervention, and God.
But when the crisis passes, we may doubt our experience. Always trust yourself and honor the certainty of the presence of divine love, protection, and blessings. Work to hold on to those moments when we have no doubts. Life feels so much easier when we believe that someone is looking out for us.
STORY do we want to tell?
EMOTIONS do we feel?
IMPACT do we want to make?
Art is a fluid language that flows from the artist, to the viewer, and back to the artist. Art adapts to the time and place of viewing- ever changing to meet people where they are. What we see and feel from a painting today may be different from how we thought of it yesterday, and how we’ll see it in the future. Therefore, we may have different answers to the questions in the headline above, depending on when we’re asked (What story do we want to tell, what emotions do we feel, what impact do we want to make?). We may also have different answers to those questions from the perspective of the viewer, including the artists themselves who become viewers as well (What story do we hear, what emotions do we feel, what impact is it making?).
Whatever our answers, art is personal, intimate, and we might change our hearts and minds seconds after we’ve settled on a direction. I can tell you what these paintings mean, but not what they mean to YOU. My perception about my art changes over time, so even though I’m the artist, I’m not an authority on art, not even my own. Once a painting is shared, art belongs to everyone.
Eyes can appear kind and wise. It’s all in what we see when we look into them. When painting eyes, it helps to imagine what we want the eyes to show and use our brush strokes to reflect that. Rounded shapes express gentleness, purity, innocence, and goodness; whereas sharp edgy strokes bring a sharp quality that expresses the opposite.
Layering with colors and highlights brings a flat painted eye to life. A fleck of white in the pupil is a “life spot“, according to my dad. He used to tell me to never forget that. Aiming for a small pin-point white dot works, but when the white fleck ends up as an organic, random “splotch” that doesn’t match exactly the life spot in the other eye, it has a more natural effect, so I try to resist making it too tidy. Light is generally not perfectly reflected or evenly cast.
Soft velvety texture on the lion’s face contrasts with the heavy paint strokes that become progressively more primitive as the mane extends to the canvas edge. What story, what emotion, what impact? Imagine running your fingertip down the bridge of that fuzzy nose, or a giving the lion a pat on that heavy golden mane. Is he gentle? Might he be dangerous? Would he hurt you? Would he protect you? What kind of lion is he, and what does he represent? Strength, wisdom, patience, victory over enemies? The story is up to the viewer, but an artist can steer the viewer toward asking questions. Contrasting elements give art a dynamic that is active, seeking, inquiring.
This mythical winged lion was inspired by a resin Guardian Lion statue in Savannah, Georgia. I imagined the griffin as made of gold, and “alive” (yet still maintaining the qualities of a statue). Again, it’s all about the contrasting elements, as this second painting also begs inquiring minds to ponder what this art means to them. The rigidity of the lion, its fixed expression, stern lines, and monochromatic coloring contrasts- and almost opposes- the soft terrain, wispy fantasy landscape, streaky brush strokes and colorful palette. The only movement is water spray hitting the cliff edge where the lion stands watch. What is the story, emotion, and impact? Do we feel safe? Is this lion in control, even over the elements, the sea?
“Lion and the Lamb” was inspired by stained glass windows in the historic Cathedral of John the Baptist in Savannah, Georgia. I wanted to paint religious art of my own, even though this isn’t in the style of the stained glass window art. My metaphorical intentions weren’t very deep (precious lamb, sacrifice and meekness; contrasting with mighty warrior lion and King). I guess we could bring that into a greater theological discussion about duality and the divine, but to be honest, I only imagined this art as a peaceful story, like the illustrations I have fond memories of from children’s Bibles when I was a little girl.
My Irish Gran used to dress up in her pink dress and sometimes she’d have a hat. If I was lucky to be at her home when she had a church event planned, I’d get to see her in her Sunday best. These memories are all caught up in my perception of Bible stories, which accounts for my peaceful and nurturing interpretation. However, I have received feedback from several viewers who have put quite a lot of thought into what they see in this metaphorical painting, and even took an entirely different path than I even knew existed. While I find their perspectives interesting, I still only see a gentle strong fatherly lion with an innocent meek lamb. Sometimes I paint on one level, while views take the art to much deeper levels. Art is a language that transcends, even if the artist is completely unaware.