"Abundance," 12 x 16 original watercolor, from the waterfall series, July 2021.
And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought...and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters fail not.
I have probably painted a hundred things that could work for "a watered garden," but this one is my favorite because it also shows "the spring...whose waters fail not," and the rich imagery of abundance at play in our lives, including the growth--even on stone--that results.
Sometimes when I pause to really see, I am stunned at what a watered garden my own life is, how everything has been touched by God and represents his endless goodness and extraordinary love for me. I stand all amazed.
"The Way," 12 x 16 original watercolor from the Desert Metaphors series.
The voice...that crieth in the wilderness,
Prepare ye the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
I love this straight and narrow trail in the outskirts of southern Utah. I love the way that it points and the promise it holds if we follow it: Safety, an enlarged perspective, and peace.
Preparation is such an important part of advent. Just as John was called to prepare the way for Christ's ministry, each of us can and must prepare our hearts to receive him today. Sometimes the littlest things, the smallest of changes, can make the biggest difference. What will I do differently today to prepare?
"The Light that Shines Forth in Darkness, " 12 x 16 original watercolor. SOLD
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: They that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
I was stunned when I hiked this trail in early October and saw how incredibly the light was shining, lighting up the whole field in gold, amidst so much darkness and shadow. Sometimes we humans also walk in darkness, and sometimes when we're really fortunate we see a great light, a light that shines on us, comforts us, directs us and guides us.
"His Handiwork," 10x10 original watercolor from What Think Ye of Christmas.
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
As an artist, I recognize the infinite love and sacrifice that goes into a handmade gift. That the recipient is ever-present in your mind and heart as you labor. It would be heartbreaking to have that gift rejected.
I love that this beautiful earth is a gift, hand-made for us by a loving God. And yet the Son of God was rejected, even by his own people, ironically by some of the very people he came to make into sons of God. That seems to be the way of the world.
The antidote, and resultant hope? Believe on his name.
Refiner's Fire, 22 x 30 original watercolor, framed under museum glass. Not for sale.
But who may abide the day of his coming?
And who shall stand when he appeareth?
For he is like a refiner's fire...
This was an old blacksmith we watched working his trade in Nauvoo, IL. I loved seeing the scorching flames burst up as he calmly reshaped the metal. There are days when we feel the flames of the refiner's fire licking up around us. They can be a little painful, but it's who important to trust the process and the vision of this creator. Hopefully we are experiencing enough refining in the here and now that we will be able to stand when he appears again someday.
Our Plein Air group on June 11, 2021.
Early-morning sunlight streaming through the trees. The rippling of the water, and the call of birds. My primary source of summer bliss is plein air painting. Every single Friday.
I’ve noticed that occasionally people feel a little frustrated with Plein Air painting. It's a very different experience from painting in the studio.
Here are a few pointers that have helped me:
First of all, Go easy on yourself. Toss any thoughts of perfection aside, and immerse yourself in the experience! If your painting turns out well, that’s a bonus!
Second, Mindfulness. The joy is in the journey: being outside, noticing the ground under your feet supporting you, carefully observing the beauty of nature, listening to the soundtrack of bird calls and water flowing, feeling part of creation. This is the best therapy there is!
Third, Simplify. Don’t try and capture everything you see—it can be completely overwhelming. Zoom in on a section or an area, even an interesting plant or two. Save detail until the very end—you might not need it at all! (Sometimes it’s helpful to simplify the materials you bring on location as well!)
Fourth, Values. If you focus first on sorting your lights and your darks, everything usually falls right into place. This also helps to simplify the scene. I don’t always do a value study, but my paintings usually turn out better when I do!
Fifth, Focus. Keep your mind and your eye—and your painting — centered around the one thing that initially drew you to the location. Was it bright-colored flowers in the foreground, a glow of light in the background, an array of interesting shapes? Whatever it is, don’t lose sight of the magic that initially inspired you, and don’t let anything upstage it!
Sixth, Embrace the challenge. Plein air painting really stretches you as an artist. There’s a reason artists have been choosing to paint on location for centuries, from the French Impressionists to the Hudson River School in upstate New York, these artists knew that getting outside and painting from life in nature would improve their painting skills and powers of observation better than any other practice.
Seventh, Instruction. Sometimes a short private lesson on color mixing or value studies or some other key principle can make a big difference when you’re painting on location. Don’t hesitate to reach out and schedule a private session if you think this would help you over a hurdle or two.
If you're interest in joining us, reach out to me directly via the contact form, or sign up for the group email under the LEARN tab. Anyone is welcome. You don't have to be mega-talented. And we always have a great time.
"Air of Respect," 11 x 15 original watercolor
Once upon a trail, as a friend and I were descending a rocky slope, we suddenly found ourselves in a face-off with a bighorn sheep.
We stood there in a stunned silence, frozen in our tracks as we became aware of the potential danger. After a few moments that felt like an eternity, it occurred to me that if we stepped off the trail, to the left, maybe the ram would understand that we weren’t aggressors. So we carefully took a few steps to the left side of the trail.
As we did so, the sheep took our cue and politely stepped to the other side of the trail, sending a benign signal of its own. Respectfully we passed each other on opposite sides of the trail and continued our journey.
My friend and I remarked on the danger and the beauty of this experience. How this beautiful animal commanded an air of respect. She later shared with me that spotting a bighorn sheep on the trail is considered a good omen in some cultures.
This is not from the photo we nervously took that day. But it is from my own photo, taken years later, still in awe of this beautiful creature. I'm calling it Air of Respect, which is also a perfect phrase to describe most fathers.
It's not too late to gift Dad the wildlife watercolor he's been wanting for his office or den! 15% off all existing landscape and wildlife paintings, this week only. (Also perfect for our favorite Highland High School grad.)
More ideas for Dad:
A vacation home or ancestral home; a favorite travel destination; underwater sea life
Portrait of a child or grandchild; ancestor portrait; rugged landscapes, western art.
Gift certificates are available to announce commissions.
Note: All existing landscapes and wildlife paintings 15% off for Father's Day.
(Commissions are not discounted.)
Mothers' Day is this weekend, but don't worry, I've got you covered.
You can score the perfect gift at the perfect price right now.
PLUS: Use coupon code MOM to save an additional 10% sitewide.
SEE WHAT'S NEW THIS MONTH
Mini Europe Paintings -- at a very giftable price
Cover her wall with art and not fingerprints! Just added this week, mini original Europe paintings (4.5 x 6.5, in 8 x 10 mat). Subjects from England, France, and Italy. On sale 15% off this week! Choose your favorite, or create a grouping. Hurry before they’re gone! These are selling fast!
Cookbooks in stock and on sale!
Inspire her with brilliant images and delicious recipes. This bestseller is back on sale with a two-for-$35 Mother's Day Special. Best price this year! Save $25 off list when you buy two. (Just need one? They're on sale this week too.)
"Wonderful cookbook with beautiful art! I so loved and can’t wait to try the recipes!"
Abstract originals from the cookbook: Add a pop of contemporary color!
Flowers that won't shrink, stretch or fade.
"Peonies", original watercolor, 8x8, $225.
Give her flowers that always stay fresh, never wilt, don't need to be watered, and last forever. All 10% off through Sunday.
Tulip Trio, 8x8 Dancing Daisies, 6x6 A Rose By Any Other Name, 15x15 Blossoms,8x8
Sanctuary of Faith prints:
Only a few left in stock! 8 x 10 or 4 x 5, with or without type; with or without mat.
Thank her for the environment she creates and the spirit she brings to your home.
I also have gift certificates in virtually any amount, and you can gift her an e-course, a private lesson, an amount toward a painting, commission a portrait, anything you like! You can also send as an e-certificate.
Remember: Use code MOM to save 10% sitewide!
Exactly ten years ago we we went to the Carl Bloch exhibit at the BYU Museum of art, and had a transcendent experience seeing these well-known depictions of the Savior as the original, larger-than-life paintings. They were breathtaking.
Around the same time, I was offered an opportunity to stay with my family at a friend's vacation home near St. George in exchange for my painting a "house portrait" of the home when we returned. We were excited about the opportunity to spend Spring Break together as a family in the desert, to hike and explore. But we were unprepared for how stunningly beautiful the homes and the development was, all designed to complement rather than detract from the desert setting.
The combination of having been so deeply moved by the Bloch paintings, followed immediately by these four or five days in the desert made me a whole new kind of alive. All of my senses were heightened, and for days on end I experienced what I now call "mindfulness on steroids," an intense but active meditative state where you experience your surroundings as never before. In this case, what I saw literally everywhere I turned in the desert was a metaphor for the Savior and his atonement. Although we were vacationing as a family, I spent that year's Holy Week in a state of relative holiness, contemplating moment by moment aspects of the savior's life, sacrifice, death, and rebirth.
I since planned a series of paintings called Desert Metaphors, in an attempt to share my experience with others. For people who are not religious, they are simply a collection of rare glimpses of the Utah desert at springtime. But for believers, there are layers of additional and deeper meaning to be found in every image.
Ten years later this series still is not complete, but I am ready to present some of these pieces. Yesterday was Palm Sunday, a day Christians celebrate Jesus's triumphant return to Jerusalem, where his followers honored him by waving palm leaves, and shouting Hosanna, which means "Save us now." They laid palm branches, along with articles of clothing, by some accounts, to line his pathway to the holy city...and ancient attempt to roll out the red carpet, if you will.
I absolutely love what President Russell M. Nelson said about palm branches and Palm Sunday, in a video yesterday. He asks the world to “make this coming week truly holy by remembering — not just the palms that were waved to honor the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem — but by remembering the palms of His hands.” He then quotes one of my favorite scriptures, Isaiah 49:16: “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands” — a promise, President Nelson says, that “[Christ] will never forget you.”
And so for today's image, in commemoration of Palm Sunday, I present the first in this year's Desert Metaphors series: "His Palms." This is done in a technique I learned from a Florida artist, Jean Grastorf, based on her book, "Pouring Light." The goal is to capture the illusion of light. Perfect for a goal, #StartingToday, to see and choose light in our lives. #Iwillseethelight
"His Palms" 15 x 11 original watercolor.
Gifts From the Sea, a new online course at Jana's Departures Watercolor School
Places where I've walked along the sand, collecting seashells: The white-sand beaches off the coast of Sarasota, Florida; up and down the California Coastline; small beach towns dotting the central coast; all the towns and beaches circling Monterey Bay; the rocky coast of the Oregon shoreline; the four main islands of Hawaii.
I love the meditative act of beach combing. There is a mindfulness, movement and rhythm, a letting-go of worries and stress, and a feeling of freedom, and oneness with the ocean and the shore. No matter where your favorite or closest beach is, there is something soothing and rewarding about walking the edge of the water and waiting to see what the tide brings in and leaves behind. Shells are Mother Nature's gift to the patient beachcomber. Treasures.
This series of six beautiful projects offers a similar reward to the patient artist: Treasures. You too can enter the relaxed, meditative zone as you work with water, pigment and light to create your own hand-painted shell collection! This course contains instruction on creating textures, understanding color theory (and why certain combinations work better than others) and tried and true techniques.
Watch, then follow along as I paint a variety of seashells from my own collection, including a starfish, a clamshell, a whelk, and a scallop. The instructions are easy, narrated every step of the way, including the colors I'm using with every dip of the brush.
Techniques: Learn new techniques such as the color-flow technique for soft, watery edge; negative painting, for creating depth and bringing out lighter areas; double and triple-loading your brush for fresh combinations without stirring, and combining colors wet-on-wet for soft, natural blends.
Textures: Learn how to use salt, spattering, scraping, dotted lines and more to achieve a variety of textures. The course includes a quiz at the end of every section, leading you through a self-evaluation of your work so you can grow and improve. (Don't worry -- it's not graded!)
The course is yours to keep. You can rewatch the videos and practice again and again. I also created a generous dot card with 10 must-have colors for painting natural, lifelike shells. Once you're finished you can frame them as a set to hang on your wall, or give as gifts. Make summer last just a little while longer!
The best news of all, this course -- and all my e-courses -- are 25% off for the month of September. For less than the cost of a single private lesson, you can create five beautiful paintings! Simply use the coupon code SCHOOL here at janaparkin.com, or on my sister site at teachable.com. (Discount appears at checkout.) The dot card is sold separately, right here. Materials associated with courses are also 15% off this month. Use coupon code SCHOOLSUPPLIES.
I am an artist and art instructor working in water media. Just knowing I can watch colors run together makes it worth getting out of bed every morning! Helping students capture the same excitement is equally rewarding.