12-Day Advent in Art: #8 Peace
"Peace in the Nation's Capital:" Washington D.C. Temple, 15 x 11 original watercolor.
And they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into puruninghooks:
Nation shall not lift up against nations,
neither shall they learn war any more.
O house of Jacob, come ye and let us walk
in the light of the Lord.
When I first visited this temple the peace permeated the walls and made the beautiful grounds feel hallowed and serene. I love that it's located so near our nation's capital city, and yearn for such peace to come over our citizens as well. Party shall not lift up against party, neither shall they contend any more. That would be my Christmas wish. Cooperation and unity, bringing peace in their wake. The light of Christ has the potential to make that wish a reality rather than a dream. How can we be sure we're walking in the light of his love?
12 Day Advent in Art: #7 Light
"Light in the Wilderness" (Red Willows, Oakley), 22 x 30
In him was life;
and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness;
and the darkness comprehended it not.
It was during one of the darkest times in my life that this scene spoke to me, and offered hope. I love the way the light travels over the distant mountains, just grazing the treetops, and is reflected in the river below. Next to the darkness, the willow branches grow a deep red, a symbol of the Savior—both his sacrifice, and the robe he'll wear when he returns.
"Cherub and Lute," 10 x 12 original watercolor, after Fiorentino. Cover of What Think Ye of Christmas?.
Forget not to show love unto strangers:
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
C.S. Lewis has a famous quote where he posits that if we could see who our fellow humans truly are, and the divine potential they hold, we might be tempted to worship them. How can I see other humans through divine eyes, see the angels in their souls? What stranger can I reach out to today?
"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.
Father's Day Sale: Air of Respect
"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.)
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.