Monday, December 31, 2018

Hills and Valleys

Hills and Valleys
30"x40" Oil on Deep Edge Canvas

God is LORD of the hills and the valleys. 
Come what may we belong to God.

Thank you for all of the blessings in 2018.
And especially for your prayers.

May God's love surround you all in the new year.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Wonder of Light

Wonder of Light
12"x12" Oil on Deep Edge Canvas

As the year comes to an end, it is a great time to pause and reflect on we've been and where we want to go. Here is a recent landscape abstract which contains art lessons that can apply to our lives as we contemplate the new year.

1. Gray is a beautiful color.
So many look at gray as depressing and drab. There is so much delicate beauty in all of the many kinds of gray. There are warm grays, cool grays, brown grays, blue grays, green grays and so much more.

Our society polarizes more and more into camps of defined color. (Black & White, Red and Blue, etc.) We need to learn to recognize the mixing and bleeding of gray mid-tones in life and culture. If we can do that, we can better live together as children of God.

2. Look for the light.
As a painter, I spend a lot of time observing light and trying to mimic the effects of light on canvas. Compositionally, light directs the eye around the painting. Light changes as the day progresses. As a plain-air painter, I have to bee quick to capture the light of a certain moment before it changes or goes away altogether. Light guides us. Light reveals. Light brings color.

There is plenty of darkness in our lives. If we think about light as Jesus taught, we remember that God is light and we are light as well. We need to be lovers of the light. We need to be looking for it always—and following it. We should be seekers of the subtle affects and colors that light brings and helping others to recognize just how much we are surrounded with light. We need to bear our own light to the world. St. Francis of Assisi once said, "For all of us would be blind if not for the Light of the World."

3. Find your source.
For me, nature and water are sources of renewal. I love to stand near a running rocky river, observing it's motions and listening to its sounds. Nature brings me closer to the hear of my creator. In nature there are no straight lines or right angles. In nature, everything is fractal and curvy. Painting nature is so much more forgiving than painting man-made things and structures. For me, there is no greater art teacher than nature.

It's very important to find something, someone or some place that inspires you and renews you. We all need to find our own sanctuary from the world's distractions and draw near to God.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas
Oil on Panel
On Exhibit in the Basilica of St. Nicola in Bari, Italy

In the spirit of Christmas, this is a commissioned portrait of St. Nicholas of Myra. The painting will be part of an exhibit at his home church, the Basilica of St. Nicola in Bari, Italy. 

According to the society of St. Nicholas website, He lived around 300 CE and is said to have attended the council of Nicea (from where we get the Nicean Creed). His legends revolve around helping young people and the poor. These legends inspired future generations in later centuries in the form of St. Nick (celebrated in much of Europe) and Santa Claus (celebrated in America). 

Read more here:

In this portrait, St. Nicholas, dressed in traditional bishop's attire, engages young children of all ages. He even holds an infant to remind us of the gift of the Christ Child. One of the children plays with a toy ship. St. Nicholas is considered the patron saint of children and sailors among many other groups. The lighting behind St. Nicholas alludes to the giving light of Christ that shines though the stories of the saint's life.

Monday, December 24, 2018

The Manger

The Manger
Oil on Panel for 
Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary
by Ascension Press

Christ is born! In this painting, we see the newborn Jesus on a bed of hay wrapped in cloths. Mary and Joseph create a protective space for Jesus with their bodies as they rest on the hay. Jesus, the light of the world, illuminates the Holy Family against the world’s surrounding darkness. It is a touching, intimate scene of family love.

Interestingly enough, this painting has no manger—no wooden structure of hay like we are accustomed to seeing.  That is because, to God, the entire world is a manger. Our entire world is that dusty, hay-filled box with creatures and animals of all kinds. And yet, God loves us so much, that He humbled himself into our messy existence in order to bring us salvation.

I hope you have enjoyed these meditations over the past few days. May you be blessed by Emmanuel this day and in the year to come.

Merry Christmas!

Advent Delivered

Manger Sunset
Digital Illustration for 
Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary
Video Series
by Ascension Press

Sun goes down. 
Temperatures cool. 
Animals settle. 
Contractions increase. 
The baby is coming!

Body exhausted.
Far from home.
Camped in a stable.
Take a deep breath.
The baby is coming!

Wanted better conditions.
More fit for a king.
God's plan is greater.
Have to dig deep.
The baby is coming!

Promises delivered.
Prayers answered.
Love made flesh.
Pain sharpens.
The baby is coming!

Justice is coming.
Salvation is coming.
God is with us.
Time to push.
The baby is coming!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Advent Unexpected

No Room in the Inn
Digital Illustration for
Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary
Video Series
by Ascension Press

"This was not supposed to happen." Mary may have been thinking that when they arrived at the stable. After their long journey to Bethlehem, they find the city overcrowded with no room for Joseph and his expecting wife. The only place offered to them was a back stable full of animals. This illustration shows the couple inspecting their temporary new home, and the place where the promised Son of God will be born. "Blessed are you..." the angel said months ago to Mary. The stable surely feels a far cry from being "Blessed."

This was not according to the birthing plan, I'm sure. Yet Mary and Joseph did what they had to do. This shows just how strong the two of them were. These conditions prove Mary is not all that meek and mild, but rather the bold woman who sang the Magnificat months before. The social scandal, the journey to Bethlehem, delivering the christ child in a stable—these are all examples of the hardships Mary had to overcome after saying "let it be" to God. In none of these situations would anyone consider themselves "blessed."

Blessed and easy are very different things. Mary is blessed because God is with her. No matter what the world has to throw at her, she can always find strength in God. And that strength will endure a stable birth, a flight to Egypt, parenting the christ child, and ultimately, witnessing that child's suffering and death. 

Mary's strength will eventually pave the way for us all to be "blessed" as well.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Advent Next

To Bethlehem
Digital Illustration for 
Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary
Video Series
by Ascension Press

Almost there. The destination is in sight. Mary and Joseph breathe a sigh of relief. But there is plenty of uncertainty ahead. The city is just as much a wilderness journey for them as the ninety-mile journey it took to get there. Their dependance on God which helped them survive the journey is still required for them to make it through the next few days. 

How often have we overcome one challenge, only to face another? Dependency on God is not for momentary seasons. It is a posture for a life with God. It is a life abundant in ways the world cannot quantify of imagine.