Slow Change

See this oil painting of a lion called “Lion of Judah” come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)

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!


Believe

Watch me paint “God’s Promise” in 2 minutes (time lapse)

This project was for the book “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia“. It was a scene I saw one day across the lagoon that I can see from my patio. The painting style is rather primitive. I was dabbling and experimenting with interacting with the oils with my fingers and also by lifting some away with a paper towel. The effect I wanted was to subdue the colors, but it didn’t hit that mark as well as I’d hoped. That’s ok, I figured. The project goal was reached, which was simply to tell the story about the double rainbows.

However, I regretted sharing this one on a platform where a troll instantly grabbed hold of it and commented something along the lines of that this art sucked and looked like it had been done by a child. Well, of course I know who I am, and what my credentials are (accepted for a 14 month traveling tour for my first oil painting, thereafter in gallery showings and landed a solo gallery exhibit in Ireland- that I unfortunately had to cancel when I couldn’t get my visa extended- but anyway, I know who I am). The troll had never heard of me apparently, and felt comfortable dishing out a nasty insult.

I removed the video, since I didn’t want to be judged on that experimental project, but I will share it here and it was included in the book that I painted it for. I believe in myself and my abilities. I do not need permission or approval from others. I’m careful when my work doesn’t represent me well, so I will respond when something isn’t well received, but I only take that into small consideration.

We must believe in ourselves when no one else will. If we do not, we can’t expect others to believe in us. We also have very little to offer others when we don’t hold ourselves up to a high standard. How can we inspire our children, communities, and the world if we are too self-absorbed, always peering inward to see if we are good enough, if we’ve earned enough admiration or outward signs of success? Self-doubt and low self esteem can be a form of selfishness and narcissism. We must let go of our focus on ourselves so that we are free to think of others.

So, it is with full confidence that I share my “inferior” rainbows painting with you. It’s an interesting project, and I don’t need to meet anyone’s standard but my own. This art isn’t a favorite of mine- not even close- but it has merit because of the story behind it, and because I was experimenting with art in a way that might be fun for others to try. Most of all, seeing people like me free to try new things that might fail, and comfortable sharing those unflattering moments with you, may encourage and motivate you to step outside of your need to please others or meet a standard other than your own.

Believe that you are uniquely human, that you are special in the eyes of God. Honor this by reviewing yourself as special. Soak up every confidence to give yourself the courage to share your life and spirit with others. We need each one of us to be who we were designed to be. Believe.

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Growing or Thriving?

Do you remember when I first posted “Strawberry Flower” (when I painted it in April)? At the time, the strawberry wasn’t actually ripe yet. Indeed, it was barely a strawberry when I chose to paint my daughter’s strawberry plant that hangs outside. I painted into the future a bit, by imagining the strawberry as already ripe and ready to eat. Shortly afterward, my amazing prophesy came true! 😉

This morning I checked on my patio garden and I was alarmed to see that the cucumber vine had found my beloved new peach tree! ACK! I will need to end that monstrosity! I’ll unwind the coiling tendrils from it’s grip on the young peach tree trunk and attempt to “train” the vine to go where I want it to go. Diverting the vine from grabbing hold of random things nearby has been an ongoing battle with this crazy cucumber plant, which now looks like Jack’s beanstalk. Suppose I shall climb it someday to see what’s beyond the clouds?

On a happier note, I’ll soon have a bumper crop of cucumbers, most of which I plan to make homemade pickles with. They’ll make sandwiches taste delicious! I’ll also include other vegetables when I make pickles, so there’s plenty of flavor. The nutrition is better than buying pickles from a store, but not as good as eating cucumbers raw without any added sugar. The ones we eat straight from the garden will offer the best benefits.

And now for the vine metaphor that this blog post is leading to… thriving vs growing:

The cucumbers and strawberries are both are big success. My oldest daughter and I were wistful after seeing my youngest’s prized project, so we now each have strawberry plants too. Ours are also thriving. All three of our plants have grown vines that suspend below the pots. It’s possible to grow more strawberry plants from the vines if they grow roots. So, not only do we have delicious strawberries today, but we may have more plants for the future. And as I’ve already mentioned, my cucumber vines are sprawling endlessly. 

However, my wisteria vine is merely growing. The first year, we had plenty of beautiful, truly gorgeous, draping purple blossoms swaying from the expanse of its vine. The following two years, we had no flowers at all. The vine simply grew and grew, winding itself around and around and around, teasing us with leafy foliage, some of which would then die off and leave a mess behind. 

This season, the wisteria vine produced a single flower. That’s it, just the one. Then the vine continued to grow, spiraling around everything in its path. Before I caught it, it had wound itself around my dear red roses and snapped one of the established budding stems, severing it! It killed one of my roses! That got my Irish up, so I was quick to yank the wisteria vine and move it to the “naughty corner” of the garden where it is now sentenced to winding itself around an ugly post. It has beautified the post, and it has no roses to harm. From there, it’s fine that it may do nothing more than grow and grow, without ever producing the flowers that it is capable of.

With my metaphor firmly rooted, let’s ponder this philosophical question: Are we growing or thriving? When we simply muddle through life, adjusting to the changes in seasons by adapting and surviving, we may grow without thriving. We may even be a harmful influence on others, as our energy overpowers those who were flowering or producing fruit, suppressing them or even breaking their spirits. 

When a vine grows and grows without producing much, it may be more invasive than beneficial- like the wisteria. Even if a vine will one day produce a bountiful harvest, like the cucumbers, if the initial growth is a vine that latches on to everything else to pull itself up, it may harm the garden as the vine gets itself where it wants to go. The method to our success matters. A truly thriving spirit doesn’t need to pull others down to raise themselves up.

The strawberry plant has dropped vines that are not only producing fruit, but are floating below the plant, swaying in the warm breeze like it’s dancing. My daughter has placed a window planter box on a table below her plant (the plant I painted in the video at the top of this post), and the vines are gently hovering over it, nearly sweeping the soil now. Soon, they will land and we’ll see if she can grow more strawberry plants from these pretty vines.

A person who is thriving will dance through life without hurting anyone. When they succeed, they will drop their vines to inspire others to grow and thrive as well. There is a big difference between growing and thriving, and it also matters greatly how we get to where we want to go: if we keep climbing without ever reaching down to lift others up, or if we remember where we came from and look back to help those who are left behind.

Whether an underachieving and toxic wisteria, or a successful but overpowering cucumber, if we are a vine who goes on whatever path we want, with no regard for others, we aren’t thriving. We’re just growing, until one day we are no more. In the end, we’ll have nothing to show for our time here, but a withering coiled vine that eventually fades away.

But if we are a strawberry vine, we leave behind the ones we’ve inspired. We are never truly gone, as our energy carries on into the future. This is a life that is not merely growing, but thriving.

Maybe we’ll remember my wisteria-cucumber-strawberry metaphor when we feel too lazy, tired, or discouraged to work and invest in others the way that we know we should. I include myself in this. Whenever I come up with these metaphors for you, I put these seeds into my own mind as well. I feel instantly hypocritical if I don’t practice what I preach. So, I’ll strive to be a strawberry plant. And it just so happens that my favorite color is red!

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