See this oil painting come alive in about 1 minute (time lapse video). Note: if you read my blog via e-mail, my videos probably won’t show up unless you click on the link to this blog post and play the video directly on my site.
My latest painting “Yellow Rosebud” is a companion piece to the open, fully bloomed, flower art “Yellow Rose” (inspired by the same rose bush outside my window). These paintings will be included in the 2022 collection “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Seasons (of life and nature)” for the section called Spring and Summer. Previous collections in the “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by” series:
(Some paintings are not included in the “inspired” series)
The unexpected move put me behind schedule, when I was previously ahead of schedule. I’m doing a few quick projects to catch up and then I’ll slow down with some detailed and longer works. If all goes well, there’ll be a spree of new paintings over the next few weeks.
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The painting video I shared yesterday included a piano instrumental version of “In Christ Alone”. My daughter (standing behind my chair) was kind enough to sing it with me for you. I added the lyrics at the top of the screen. This old hymn is good comfort for the times we are living in and goes well with the inspiration of a lighthouse.
By the way, the unframed canvas paintings you see on the shelves behind me are my drying system. I lay a fresh painting flat when it’s very wet, then I move it to the shelf (vertically leaning, as you can see in the video) to continue setting/drying. When it’s dry I move it into the closet storage. Then start all over again with the next wet canvas, still working toward my lifetime goal of 1,000 finished oil paintings. I have one on the canvas right now but I’m feeling tired and I’m procrastinating. We’ll see if my willpower wins today or my physical fatigue. So far I managed singing this song, one of my favorite hymns, and that was a good thing. God bless you and your families as we move forward in these chaotic times.
See this oil painting “Americana” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse video), or view the longer version in the 4th of July show. This painting features an American flag painted on a barn, as a dog waits for his owner to come home. A yellow ribbon on the tree is a tradition to show support when a loved one is in the military during times of war. The happiest days are when a veteran returns home and the ribbons are off the trees.
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The song in the video is a piano instrumental version of the hymn “In Christ Alone”.
“In Christ Alone”
In Christ alone my hope is found He is my light, my strength, my song This Cornerstone, this solid Ground Firm through the fiercest drought and storm What heights of love, what depths of peace When fears are stilled, when strivings cease My Comforter, my All in All Here in the love of Christ I stand
No guilt in life, no fear in death This is the power of Christ in me From life’s first cry to final breath Jesus commands my destiny No power of hell, no scheme of man Can ever pluck me from His hand Till He returns or calls me home Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand”
(there are more verses, but those are the ones that I feel fit the theme of the painting the most)
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See this osprey come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse video).
My new art area is now fully set up and I should be able to stay on track better now. I hope to return to daily blogging soon. There’s still quite a bit to settle in from our recent move, but one day at a time!
I have a fun announcement: I started an online store for cool, fun, and elegant gifts with my art on it. You’re invited to check it out and tell me what you think of it. The link is here.
Blankets, keepsake boxes, posters, mugs and more! If you want to have (a reproduction of) one of my paintings in your home, I hope you find what you’re hoping for. Happy Wednesday, and God bless you.
“Osprey” is part of the 2022 collection “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).
“Osprey” represents re-inventing oneself at different stages of life, new adventures along life’s journey, embracing change. It is part of the section called “Changes and Milestones” in the 2022 collection Seasons. [posters and other fun products available below]
I’m finally working on a new painting. I’ll share it on Wednesday. My daily blog has fallen behind since our sudden, unexpected move. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it. But I’m finding my way back to normalcy and I’ll resume regular blogging again soon. Meanwhile, here’s another father/son painting (at least I think so, maybe the penguin is actually a mom?).
I hope all of you are doing well. I miss chatting with you every day, as I move toward my lifetime goal of 1,000 finished oil paintings. I’ve fallen a bit behind schedule so I’ll be back with renewed passion to crank out the paintings. Let the paints fly!
Again, I’d like to wish you all a Happy Father’s Day. My dad died when I was a child, but I think of him and wonder what he would have been like at this age. He’d have loved being a grandpa. If you are a Grandpa, or even a Great Grandpa, then my Father’s Day wish goes double or triple for you. 🙂
I’m finally back to work after our big sudden, unexpected move. The move took wild turns and we ended up buying a house at least a year before we were ready to do so. The way it came together wasn’t what we wanted, but we have landed in a place I already love, and I will heal from the things that happened. There’s a lot I can’t say here, that I’d say if we could be in person and have a long heart-to-heart over a cup of tea or coffee. I’d bring one of my cakes or a batch of cookies. But, here we are, chatting through my blog that anyone can read. It’s a bit like being at a party, having a personal chat, and a person with bad intentions overhears- twists our words to hurt us, or takes offense at something that wasn’t meant for them, and spiritually had nothing to do with them.
Anyway, I think you know what I mean. I wish I could fully describe the extreme highs and especially the lows, but I can’t. I’ll say this: I have felt profoundly hurt and disappointed by some of the unfair and bitterly unjust events that unfolded, but through it all, I felt divine intervention and spiritual support that can’t be explained away by logic. We’d have to believe in a complicated series of coincidences to dismiss it all, and that would frankly be more of stretch to believe than to simply take it as it was: I was being spiritually supported in a mysterious way that I can’t understand, but I’m grateful for. My family felt it too, but I don’t say much about their experiences on the blog, as those are their own stories to decide to publicly tell or not.
So why did I choose to paint a yellow rose as my first painting in my new home? Because, shortly after we moved in, my rose plant bloomed for the first time. It is symbolic for me because yellow roses have a special meaning in my life. My grandma loved them and would keep her roses on a hill that was highly visible. When she passed, I thought of her whenever I saw yellow roses. Since I always admired them, I wanted to grow some. Grandma was successful with hers in upstate New York, but we were living in Minnesota at the time, which has much harsher temperatures in the dead of winter (sometimes as low as -25 F). I could only have a specialty engineered rose, an “arctic rose”, in yellow. That’s all I could find that had a good chance of thriving. It did thrive, and those were the roses that were in bloom long after they should have been, when I was Mom’s caregiver and bringing her cut roses. The roses finally stopped blooming after she passed- which was after the regular season when my roses had usually already stopped producing new roses for the year. If you garden, you can probably relate to how surprising it is when flowers, fruit, or vegetables survive much longer than expected. It feels like a miracle, especially if there is a heavy emotional impact.
After we sold our hobby farm that we’d built (after years of fixing up dirty rundown houses while living in them, selling and saving toward having a nice new house one day and meant as a “forever” family home), because the company my husband worked for moved out of the country and laid everyone off after they trained their replacements, and I lost my job too since my arts school was based in my home studio, we moved several times (my apologies if you’ve heard this story too much, but new people join us regularly and don’t know my story so I have to summarize it fairly often). While moving around, I didn’t want to get another arctic rose, so I waited until I could live someplace warm enough for real traditional roses to thrive. Then I waited some more because I could find any- they were sold out when I tried to get some- and I was always a day late and a dollar short. Time slipped away, and I never did get my real yellow roses… until a few weeks before we learned we would have to move from our rental house sooner than we planned.
Fortunately, because we were renting, I planted my new roses in a grow bag container, not in the ground. So, when we were blindsided by the vacate notice, it was easy to move it to the new place. It was a new plant and hadn’t produced any flowers yet. I was optimistic it would survive and I’d finally get my yellow roses, but until proof of this appeared, the yellow roses were still just a hope, not a reality.
It was astonishing that as soon as we moved everything into this house, the first bud appeared. Even though of course flowers bloom, that’s what they do, it still felt like a breathtaking surprise, as if I was not really expecting to ever see yellow roses. It was glorious! So pretty, dainty, and perfectly yellow- just as I imagined my yellow roses would be!
But then, it opened. And I was amazed at how beautiful it was. This was truly a real rose, not a close copy. I tried to capture it by photographing it and then painting it. I looked outside the window as I painted the rose to see the leaves in real time as well (the flower itself had already faded from its peak glory by the time I finished painting it). In the end, it’s only a representation of what I saw, because there’s nothing that can capture what it feels like to see a rose in person. I hope I came close, and that you can feel the emotion. If I felt uncertain about the love of God blessing my new life, all doubts fell away when this rose opened its lovely pedals. I imagine this spiritual connection to flowers is universally felt by all who feel a connection to nature, regardless of your faith, background, or social status.
We may have to wait a long time for something our heart desires, or for grief to lift. It can take years, and twists and turns we didn’t want to take. We may have to live in places we didn’t want to be, and we may be pushed to go on a new adventure before we are ready. But one day, we will arrive. The time has passed. And we are home. That is when a new yellow rose will open up, the sun will strike upon its glorious color, and we’ll know we are loved by God. Wherever we are sent, in this life or the next, there is something beautiful waiting for us. We are never truly alone, even when it feels like we are. We are never abandoned. We are human beings who feel the weight and burden of time, pain, and fear, that clouds our judgement and burdens our hearts- blocking us from seeing the yellow roses. Until the right time, and my time is now.
I hope you join me on my new painting adventures in my lovely blue home with the red door in Savannah, Georgia! How I got here is complicated. How I’ll live here may be complicated as well. But I know I will have a good life because I choose it. God bless you and your families. Never give up. Always look for your yellow roses to bloom.
If you watched the above video (a clip from this year’s Easter Show), you saw how emotional I was while singing the cover of “I Can Only Imagine”. I could barely choke out the new lyrics I added to reflect the dark times we live in. Why?
Why do we get emotional when singing, painting, or maybe even some of you got a little teary while viewing my art? Just seeing the image of Jesus may make us feel powerful emotions. For some, it’s intense anger and malice, for others it’s overwhelming love and forgiveness.
I’ve attended many kinds of churches in multiple states and multiple countries. When living in Ireland, my family attended a church in downtown Cork. They were excited to see Americans, as an American had recently returned home and they were now without any in their congregation. They were keen to show off their “light lunch”, which they started up as a new tradition after their American friend told them about potlucks after church. Well, something got very lost in translation!
Yes, Irish and Americans both speak English, but trust me, Cork English is very different and hard for the uninitiated to understand. Also, the use of language and story telling, our different backgrounds, and the way we turn a phrase can cause some confusion. However it happened, the event they called “light lunch” was the biggest church feast I’ve ever had!
They were interested in our response. Did the Americans think that they’d done it up well? I’m laughing just thinking about it. It was a buffet rivaling a casino’s all you can eat binge fest- nothing like the more modest potlucks with casseroles (or “hot dish” as the Minnesotans call it), baked goods, and a few sides. Not that I haven’t been to large potlucks in which people went all out, but the Irish really took it to a whole new level. I have no idea how they got such an impression about American church lunches, but it was quite the experience!
I bring this up as an example of how church is all about perception. What we think church is, what we think it should be, and what it really is can sometimes match up perfectly, but often does not. A church is run by imperfect people and attended by imperfect people, so it will never be perfect. The history and religious foundations may be misunderstood, altered by political powers, or lacking understanding. The music may be off key. The speakers might stumble. The sound system may malfunction. Worst of all, people may leave church feeling more alone than when they came in.
The social and political aspects of church sometimes distracts and suffocates us. Maybe all we really want is the shared hope of life after death and seeing our loved ones again, redemption, mercy, unconditional love, forgiveness, deliverance, peace (“it is well with my soul” even when troubled times come), and gathering with other human beings who also want these spiritual gifts; sharing our lives with other families, seeing babies grow up, couples marrying, and supporting those who grieve- a community based on a genuine desire for everyone to be blessed by God. But the reality of how a church operates can be a vastly different experience than the raw honest emotion and connection that we long for.
So do we want to go to church? Is it worth the risk of feeling angry by something said at the pulpit, or by interactions with the congregation? It is worth feeling lonely, misunderstood, and rejected? Is it worth getting up early, making ourselves presentable, and pushing ourselves socially?
These, and more, are the questions I ask myself every time we move to a new place and need to settle the church question. I also go through this when a church situation is dysfunctional for our family and we need to look at making a change.
We’ve made changes. We’ve taken breaks. And we’ve somehow managed to still want to go to church. There are times when the Holy Spirit is in that place, and the love between fellow humans- many times complete strangers- is very real and powerful.
We have our boundaries though, and 2020’s government control of churches was one of them. We were half the choir, but when they banned singing as a response to orders without scientific foundation, we decided that they banned us. We did not return. For me, a church must be about the people who attend. More so than the political and religious order, more so than the government, more so than history and tradition, the church must be about the people. Jesus never pushed the lepers away, He went to them. He never rejected the elderly or the children. I can’t imagine a scenario in which Jesus would have agreed with the order to ban singing.
And in the end, I will not attend a church that violates my individual sovereign beliefs. Because, what critics say is largely untrue. Many of us do not attended church as cult-like drones, but instead our personal faith is the deciding force wherever we are, including church. And because of this, church (in many cases) is real. It is a space where humans gather, where personalities sit alongside each other, and our differences are tamed only by our desire for love.
When the government goes after the churches, we can imagine it’s because our gathering together gives us power that they do not want us to have. That alone should be enough reason to want to go to church? Maybe so. As I sit here today I don’t feel ready to face a new church experience, but I’m open to changing my mind and heart. I still want the things that I go to church for.
I’ve lost track of how many oil paintings I’ve done, but “over 200” is possibly right. My lifetime goal is over 1,000 finished oil paintings, so I’m about 1/5 of the way there. When I get closer to the goal (and after I’ve counted to be more accurate) I’ll add a progress bar to this site. Until then, I’ll just keep adding more paintings to the pile. And for that to happen I need to get back to work! The move has set me back, but I plan to start painting in my new space next week. I have to finish setting it up first.
Every time I’ve moved to a new place my life has changed. Sometimes the shift in my art is dramatic, sometimes subtle, but whether conscious of it or not, I begin a new art journey when I change my life. I’m thinking back to when I painted this angels painting and how it reflected what I was going through at that time.
Mom started developing health problems in her 50s but ignored them. By the time she reached her 60th birthday, she was struggling. I became her caregiver which was emotionally complicated beyond anything I can explain here. She passed away after a dramatic event in the hospital at age 62 that I was present for and traumatized by.
Dad died of cancer 25 years almost to the day, when he was 37. When Mom died it was like losing Dad all over again. My grief journey was as complicated as my caregiving journey, and all of this impacted my art journey.
I painted these angels about a year after Mom died, after we had to sell our house and move due to my husband losing his job when the company he worked for moved operations out of the country. I’ve told parts of this story on this blog several times, because it’s how I became an oil painter. Prior to selling our house, I had a home teaching studio, so I lost my job too when we had to sell it and move.
I’d been teaching dance, theater and art for many years and now everything I’d built up had abruptly ended. I no longer had a classroom and my own kids were outgrowing and losing interest in participating in the business. Why not just do it (art and shows) myself? My college age kids join in occasionally- only as they wish to do so. Most of the time I’m flying solo, no longer a backup singer to my kids or my students, no longer teaching art but painting it, no longer directing shows but performing them. For the past five+ years I’ve been an entrepreneur rather than a teacher and small business owner.
It was a big change, but it feels exactly right. Honestly, my students never had the passion, energy and intense work ethic that I do. I’d have stressed them out if I’d pushed them as hard as I push myself. I managed to teach some valuable things but the program was kept light and fun and tailored to meet each student where they are, whether child, adult, someone with disabilities, or someone with a spark of talent. Our shows were never going to amount to much more than something their families and community enjoyed. And that was enough for me. But it wasn’t enough for my life’s purpose and destiny.
My world was too small, and like it or not (and I did NOT at first! I didn’t want to give up the life I had and I felt very insecure about being in front of the camera rather than behind it) I was meant to move on even though moving (physically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually) is hard. You can probably relate to this. When we are pushed to let go of a life we’ve lost, it’s easy to feel that the old days were better. But the past is only a foundation. The future is where hope lies, and it’s in the present where joy lives.
Even when we’re in a season of grief, there’s a quiet joy that exists deep down, and is reinforced when synchronicity and God connections align. Which brings us back around to the angels. The angels painting was inspired by an unexpected visit by someone I knew a long time ago. The fateful encounter gave me hope. The depth of my sadness during that time is reflected in my art.
I can see that for myself now, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I’m offering this particular angels painting as a clear example of what I’m trying to say. My paintings reflect my life and change when I do.
I wonder who I am now as an artist. How is my life changing? How will my art journey change? We’ll find out together. Are you with me?