Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A New Day

8"x10" Oil on Panel
with Palette Knife

This year’s Advent painting depicts the beginning of a new day. The scriptures for this season are full of hope for a new day of justice and salvation. However, this is no soft glow over a dew-filled morning, but rather a saving light breaking through the cold darkness of a world desperately in need of grace.

More than an illustration, this painting is a prayer for the suffering, the homeless and the desperate. It is a reminder that we are not consigned to live in darkness. A new day has indeed come. It keeps dawning over and over.  When we find ourselves in a place where righteousness and justice seem lost in the dark, we have hope. The break of new day will come again.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Autumn Anthem

12"x12" Oil on Panel
with Palette Knife

And here is an autumn water abstract for the 
Nov 6–8 form 8 a.m–5 p.m.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Heron Glide

8"x10" Oil on Panel
with Palette Knife

Here is another portrait of a most fascinating bird. 
This Blue Heron will be on display at the 
Nov 6–8 form 8 a.m–5 p.m.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Playing in Puddles 24x24: Celebrating the Ordinary

24"x24" Oil 
on Deep Edged Canvas
with Palette Knife

The church calendar is deep into the season of Ordinary Time. It is the longest season of the church year, turning into Advent in the fall. Some congregations go off the lectionary script and study biblical texts of their own choosing. Many congregations feel the lack of full sanctuaries due to  people being out on summer vacations. It can be a long season indeed, and let's face it, Ordinary Time isn't a very exciting name either. But rather than slouch in a summer slump, I invite you to embrace a new awareness of the ordinary.

Ordinary things are what make the church great. Warm smiles, concerned hugs, conversations of the week's events. They are all beautiful expressions of grace. And the world is full of beautiful "ordinary" moments, if you stop to see them. Jesus asks us to "consider the lilies of the field" and "the birds of the air" as reminders of God's beautiful creation and the extent of God's provisional grace. 

As a painter, I enjoy finding the beauty in ordinary things. This painting is a larger take on an abstract I painted a while ago. The painting is based on reflections in a water puddle in a school parking lot after a heavy spring rain. It doesn't get any more ordinary than that. But looking at the reflections in such a simple thing, there is a color palette of infinite beauty and grace. 

So take some time to enjoy the ordinary in you life—and be thankful.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

God in the Storm

9"x12" Oil on Gessoed Panel
with Palette Knife

Psalm 29

The Voice of God in a Great Storm

A Psalm of David.

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;
    worship the Lord in holy splendor.
The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord, over mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
    and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl,
    and strips the forest bare;
    and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
    the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the Lord give strength to his people!
    May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Show & Sale 8/7/15

I will be showing and selling my art at 
Shuff's Music during the Franklin Art Crawl on 
Friday, August 7, from 6-9pm. 
Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow 20x20

20"x20" Acrylic 
on Gallery Wrapped Canvas
with Palette Knife

My little hymn painting based on the Doxology is now bigger and bolder. 
This is a 20'x20' Acrylic enlargement on gallery wrapped canvas. 
Nothing like adding a bit of forte to your work.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Wishing Bird (Revisited)

6"x6" Oil on Gessoed Panel
with Palette Knife

While recently painting a Cardinal (see previous post), I also revisited a painting from two years ago titled "The Wishing Bird."  See the link below to learn the origin of that name. 
You can also compare my technique and development between then and now. 
My… how time flies.

They Wishing Bird 2013

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


6"x6" Oil on Panel
with Palette Knife

Cardinals are plentyful all year in Middle Tennessee. Commissioned by a lover of these boldly feathered friends, here's a little Cardinal sitting on a branch.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Color Garden

8"x10" Oil on Panel
with Palette Knife

Spring is such a beautiful time for plein air painting. Today's painting comes from the Color Garden at Cheekwood

Or send me an email.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Winter Reflections

24"x30" Oil on Canvas
with Palette Knife

THIS painting, I'm particularly proud of. It is  a 24"x30" palette knife painting of wintery reflections on the surface of the Harpeth River. It is for the The Chestnut Group's Cumberland on Canvas event. I have painted water reflections before, but this is largest surface I have ever attempted. I'm very pleased with the result. I love how it is recognizable yet abstract, which was my goal for this piece. It shows well in the modern urban exhibit space of the Bridge Building. If you are in Nashville this weekend, I highly recommend that you stop by and take a look.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Impressions of Spring

8"x10" Oil on Panel
with Palette Knife

Here is another painting with the The Chestnut Group for the Cumberland on Canvas event. A portion of the show's proceeds benefit the Cumberland River Compact. Event Details below.

This is a reflecting pond from Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum. Here is a field shot on location.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sycamore In Spring

8"x10" Oil on Panel
with Palette Knife

I love Sycamore trees. I call them "Lightning Trees" because their stark, white, branches look like a bolts of lightning to me. I have been itching to paint one for some time now. I finally got my chance while painting with the The Chestnut Group for the Cumberland on Canvas event. 

We will be sharing and selling our paintings for the Cumberland River Compact April 17 and 18. Details are in the attachments below.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Music City Winter / Riverfront Lights

Music City Winter
8"x10" Oil on Panel
with Palette Knife

My first attempt at plein air cityscape painting went pretty good. Although the winter day was not the best of weather, it was a lot of fun to work with all of the different shapes of the Nashville skyline. I painted these with my friends of The Chestnut Group. We will be sharing and selling our paintings for the Cumberland River Compact April 17 and 18. Details are in the attachments below. We painted in a beautiful urban space, just across the Cumberland River, to get a good view of the city. After the sun wend down, I stayed a little longer to get this nocturne quick-draw below.

Riverfront Lights
6"x6" Oil on Panel
with Palette Knife

There was a reporter there form Nashville Arts Magazine to capture us in action. Read the article here. The painter sitting in the top photo is your's truly.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Walking Wet

The Baptism of Jesus
8x10 Oil on Panel

On February 25th, I had the opportunity to preach a homily on the very passage that inspired this painting.

Mark 1:9-15
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved;with you I am well pleased.”

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

(After) the Baptism of Jesus

One of the joys of working with the Confirmation class is the opportunity to teach powerful theological concepts like the sacrament of baptism. In one of our first meetings, the confirmands and their covenant partners gather around the font. They are reminded of the promises made in baptism. The promises God makes, the promises the parents make, and the promises the congregation makes. Everyone is encouraged to touch the water and mark their foreheads. It is a beautiful moment of exploration with the sacred symbol. In class, we teach that Baptism is a visible sign of an invisible reality. It is a sign that points to the nature and work of God. It is also a seal, a guarantee that God keeps God’s promises. We remind the students that in baptism, we are claimed as God’s own children, unconditionally loved, and called to live a life in gratitude to God’s amazing grace. The middle schoolers spend a year of reflection, study, and questioning. They create their own statement of faith and share their faith journeys with members of the Session. On Confirmation Sunday, the confirmands lead us all in worship. Recently, we’ve added a processional to that service. In the processional, the confirmands bring a beautiful, blue silk banner into the sanctuary and place it under the font. It makes the font look like a cascading stream that stretches all the way to the back of the sanctuary. It brings the confirmands back, full circle, to the font—the central reminder of their identity and purpose.

Water has always been a sacred substance used by God to wash and heal the world. Genesis records that in the very beginning of creation, the spirit of God was moving over water. Later, God saved creation, and humanity though a flood and an ark. In Exodus, God liberated God’s people by parting the red sea. In Joshua, the river Jordan was parted to bring the people of God into the Promised Land. And then there is the mystery of baptism—where water is used for the cleansing of the soul. As the Confirmation curriculum puts it, “In a world that says ‘You made the mess, you clean it up,’ God washes away sin and makes all things new.” And according to our Reformed tradition, God always acts first, while we are just little babies, before we even know right from wrong. And the rest of our days are lived out in response to that act.

Which brings us to this story in Mark. If there ever was a gospel written for today’s culture, it’s the gospel of Mark. We live in such a fast-paced time of twitter, you tube & vine—all feeding our ever-shortening attention spans. We multi-task, over schedule, and cram as much into our day as we can. It’s enough to make our lives feel at times like an uncontrollable crazy train going exponentially faster and faster. Mark’s rapid narrative speaks to this culture. He wastes no time with unnecessary information. He sticks to the essence of the message in each story and then instantly teleports Jesus to another place, miles away for the next marvel of grace. So in Mark’s account of Jesus’ baptism, the event is only a couple of sentences long. “Jesus comes out of the water, he sees the sky tear apart. He see’s God’s spirit descending upon him like a dove. He hears God’s covenantal words, “You are my son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.”

It’s a scene that been portrayed time and time again in art. There are countless paintings of Jesus standing waist deep in the river, looking up to heaven and seeing the Spirit dove. Complete with light beams and halos. As an artist, I love looking at paintings of Bible stories. I love even more taking my own shot at painting bible stories. And As I thought about how to envision this story, I was not lead to paint that all too familiar scene. I felt lead to paint to what happened next—after the baptism of Jesus.

What happened next was quite unexpected. After the Jesus’ baptism, there were no celebrations, no baptismal certificates, no luncheons with family and friends. After Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit lead him into the wilderness—for 40 days of solitude and fasting. Immediately, says Mark, without so much as a hug or a pat on the back from John the Baptist, The Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness, or As Pastor Chris so eloquently puts it, into the wild. Without change of clothes or even a towel, Jesus walks off the stage.

The painting in you see here depicts that moment where Jesus steps out of the water and walks off for a wilderness journey, soaking wet, following the spirit’s call. If we really think about our life after baptism, Jesus’ experience doesn’t seem all that uncommon. Let’s face it. After baptism, there is a lifetime full of survival, suffering, journeying, temptation and uncertainty. We are very clear to communicate to our confirmands that, after we are baptized, there is still life, which can be a wilderness at times, full of confusion, disappointment, pain & loneliness. God’s grace does not spare us from hard times, but it does help us deal with it. Though we feel so alone at times, we can take comfort that we are not alone. Like Jesus after baptism, we have the Holy Spirit as our companion and guide. We have the assistance of angels, from simple smiles and random acts of kindness to a loving and care-giving community of faith. And if we listen, we can still hear the echo of God’s baptismal claim skipping across the distant water, “Your are my child, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.”

The confirmation curriculum has an interesting activity to help teach baptism. It’s called “Walking Wet.” The activity involves using watercolor to paint pictures of what it means to live out a baptized life. The watercolors themselves lead to a free-flowing expression in color. Students can express emotions and feelings. The medium allows you to mix color with water, blend colors by adding water and There’s even a technique were you lay down water first before applying color. It allows the color to spread and flow in pre-determined tracks marked by the clear water. And while the painting is going on, the concept of walking wet—living a life in response to God’s grace is explored.

And speaking of water and color, perhaps you’re wondering why the painting before you is mostly focused on the reflection in the water. About 3 quarters of the painting is water & reflection. In the rippling water you can see a distorted image of Jesus and a hint of the spirit dove leading him away. Is it not like how we see Jesus today—though fragments, short stories, and parables? We can catch reflections of Jesus in other people’s acts of charity, love, and sacrifice. Like Paul, looking through a mirror dimly, the church has never had a definitive, crystal clear understanding of Jesus. There is plenty about Jesus that is an unsolvable mystery.

But we should not be discouraged about this uncertainty. I contend that it actually strengthens our faith. It demands that we look harder—to find the reflections. It keeps us looking for more glimpses of the living Christ in the here and now, we can find reflections right here, tonight, in this very room, at this table and at this font. From this very font, there are gleaming reflections of Christ that ripple on like a cascading stream flowing all the way to the back—and out the door.

At the end of worship on confirmation Sunday, the confirmands remove the blue silk banner and take it out through the back doors—into the wild of life. You see, sometimes wilderness moments just happen. And other times, God’s spirit leads us to it—to serve as angels, soaking wet with gratitude and grace. As followers of Christ, we should let our colors follow the water right out the door and take the wilderness head-on. And it doesn’t stop there. Like Mark’s Jesus, we should allow ourselves to be transported from this place to the Galilee, to our workplaces, our schools, our marketplaces, and the streets. We are called to walk wet in our hectic, fast-paced, crazy train lives. We are called to proclaim Good News in those places and be reflections of the living Christ. That’s how God continues to wash and heal the world—with the water—dripping off of a claimed and called people walking wet.

May we dare to walk wet in this world.  Amen.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

What Wondrous Love Is This 18x24

18"x24" Acrylic on Deep Edged Canvas
with Palette Knife

As the lesson of Lent begins, I'm posting an 
enlargement of the hymn abstract of "What Wondrous Love Is This". You can see the original 8x10 here.

What Wondrous Love Is This
American Folk Hymn

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this
That caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul!

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down
Beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb,
Who is the great I AM,
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing,
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free
I’ll sing His love for me,
And through eternity I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
And through eternity I’ll sing on.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Early Autumn Walk

8"x10" Oil on Panel
with Palette Knife
for A Hear for Warner Parks Exhibit

Plein air painting is always a joy in Warner Parks. Here is one I made last fall. It will be in "A Hear for Warner Parks" show and sale Feb 13-15. Portions of the proceeds benefit the parks. On the day I painted this serene, leave-covered path, an class of elementary children came by. I loved hearing their thoughts about what I was doing. Below are some behind-the-scene shots from that day.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

30 Days of Painting—Looking Back

Here are all of the 30 paintings at a glance. I'm proud of the variety of subjects and techniques that I achieved this month. In the past 30 days, there were:

6 Abstracts based on prayer
3 Illuminations based from the Bible
5 Winter scenes
7 Landscapes
1 Seascape
2 Water close-ups
1 Study
2 Florals
1 Insect
3 Birds
6 Animals
23 6x6 Paintings
5 8x10 Paintings
2 Extra large paintings
2 Gifts
1 Commission
4 Subjects never before attempted 

My favorite technical accomplishments are:
Foggy Mountain River
Learning to Fly
Holy Family

What was YOUR favorite painting or genre?

Thanks, again, for following along these past 30 days. Come and see these live and in person at the Lipscomb art event this February 6-8 at Lipscomb Academy in Nashville.

Stay tuned for more on my upcoming participation in a show benefiting Warner Parks, February 12-14.