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.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Advent Intimacy

Joseph Listens for Jesus
Digital Illustrations for 
Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary
Video Series
by Ascension Press

One of the sweetest moments during my wife's pregnancy was the privilege to rest my head on her belly and listen for our baby to kick and move. We even had a home device where we could hear the swishing of the baby's heartbeat. I suspect Joseph and Mary had similar experiences. These two images, show an intimate family scene. Joseph rests his head on Mary and listens for Jesus as Mary lovingly runs her fingers through Joseph's hair.

May we also pause to listen for Jesus. God desires intimate prayer with us. God wants a close communion with us, not just a one-sided list of complaints and wants. Relationship is what Emmanuel, "God with Us," is all about. God wants us to come close and listen for the heartbeat of LOVE. God want us to wait, expectantly, to feel the kick, punch and squirm of God's GRACE.

May we strive to draw nearer to God in such ways this season—and always.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Advent Encamped

Mary and Joseph Fireside
Digital Illustration for
Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary
Video Series
by Ascension Press

The ninety-mile trip to Bethlehem was no day trip. It could have taken Mary and Joseph a week to get there. Here we see the holy family encamped for the night. They are tired and hungry. They have given their all for the journey—yet more is required. They might even be getting a little short with each other at this point. After giving so much, they need to be open to receive.

We give a lot of ourselves in these last days of Advent. Work, school exams, church events, shopping, cleaning, concerts, parties, traffic... you name it. It's been a long year and we are tired. We are ready for a break. But the holiday is not yet upon us. We need to be open to receive. Receive God's renewing spirit. Receive grace from another person. Receive gifts of patience and tolerance. We need to rest and eat from what the LORD provides. Only then will we have the strength to cary on in the work of Emmanuel.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


Journey to Bethlehem
Oil on Panel for 
Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary
Book and Video
By Ascension Press

With every birth of a new child, parents go through a uniquely powerful journey together. It’s a whirlwind of emotions, anxieties and hopes.  As I imagined Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, I could not help but wonder how their “Birth Journey” might have been like.  I imagined Mary, trying to balance on the back of a donkey while Joseph leads them both through a harsh environment. In this painting, Mary relies on Joseph for support, both physically and emotionally. Joseph walks boldly and steadfast. Internally, however, he may be full of fears and anxieties of his own. Both of them showing their resilience, their trust in God, and the loving support they have for each other.

In this painting there are two, personally, favorite moments. The first one is Mary’s hand on Joseph’s shoulder. It’s such a sweet moment that brings the both of them together in a very loving way. The other moment is the blowing wind. The wind not only alludes to the harsh adversity of their experience, but it also hints to the presence of the Holy Spirit as they journey together.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Advent Embarking

Mary and Joseph Embark for Bethlehem
Digital Illustration for
Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary
Video Series
By Ascension Press

The journey will not be easy. In this scene, Mary and Joseph begin their travel to Bethlehem. Mary appears uncertain and apprehensive, yet trusting. Joseph shows his empathy and support—his hand on her back to keep her steady and comfortable. They are in this journey together. Whatever challenges lies ahead, they will face together. They are traveling out of obedience to the laws of the land. Little do they know, they will be fulfilling prophecy as well.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Advent Change

Joseph Speaks with Mary
Digital Illustration for
Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary
Video Series
by Ascension Press

With Mary being full term, I would suspect that traveling to Bethlehem for a Roman census was the last thing Mary wanted to do. This scene depicts Joseph breaking the news to Mary about the journey they will soon have to endure. There is a tenderness among them that reveals the strength of their love. The journey ahead may be dreadful, but they will endure it together by the strength of faith and love.

We can make the best plans and prepare our homes for holiday festivities, but sometimes life interrupts everything. The fragile lives we think we can control are inevitably subject to the chaos of life. We need to be flexible enough to let go of our plans and react in faith for whatever life throws at us. And we need to be able to share each other's burdens with grace and love for each other.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Advent Unborn

Jesus Hears Mary's Song
Digital Illustration For
Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary
Companion Video
By Ascension Press

Advent is a time of waiting. But we don't wait for just abstract ideas, hopes and dreams. We wait for a person, Jesus. We wait for "God with Us," the Word made Flesh who will laugh with us, cry with us, hold our hands, guide us, and ultimately, save us.

This is a follow-up image from yesterday where Mary sings to Jesus. This image shows Jesus hearing Mary's song. I am so thankful that Ascension Press asked for this image to be rendered. It was a real challenge and I have never really seen anyone attempt to portray the Christ Child BEFORE his birth. Most importantly, working on this picture reminded me of the humanity of Jesus and his total dependency on his family. 

God humbled and poured out in such a way is hard to imagine. I hope this uncommon portrait of Jesus helps you to ponder in that mystery in your own heart—if even for just a little while.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Advent Song

Mary Sings to Jesus
Digital Illustration For
Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary 
By Ascension Press

The holiday season is a rich time of singing. Through Advent, I relish the ancient hymns of promise and enjoy the singing of carrols. Even the radio offers channels overflowing with holiday classics new and old to get us all in the Christmas Spirit.

What kinds of songs would expectant Mary have sung to Jesus? Perhaps some of the ancient psalms and songs from scripture. Perhaps inspired original compositions like the Magnificat. I find it helpful to think of Mary singing as I sing the songs of the season. Imagining Mary helps me remember that I am singing to a person, Emmanuel, "God with Us."

During this season, we all sing of hope not yet fully realized and promises not yet fulfilled. But we also sing to Jesus—the Messiah who was and is and is yet to come. Let us raise our voices to Him in hope and joy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Advent Waiting

Mary Waiting
Digital Illustration For 
Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary
Video Series

Waiting is at the core of the season of Advent. We wait for Christmas. We wait to celebrate Christ's birth. We wait for family to come and visit. We wait for end of the year bonuses or new beginnings in the new year. But in an instant gratification culture such as ours, it is all the more important to wait.

As an expectant mother, Mary waits for all kinds of things. In this illustration, Mary takes a break from daily chores of getting water to wait. She waits for Joseph to come home for the day. She waits for her strength to renew to finish the journey home. She waits for the birth of Jesus. 

Whatever it is that you are waiting for, recognize the importance of the waiting. May we let go of our instant expectations, put down our time-pacifying smartphones and just wait. Let us Trust in God's time and sovereignty in our lives. 

Let us wait. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Advent Rest

Mary Reclining
Digital Illustration For 
Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary
Companion Video

This was a digital illustration or the Rejoice! series companion video. In this illustration, Mary rests in the morning while contemplating and embracing the Holy child she carries.

The Christmas season is full of hustle and bustle. In addition to our already busy schedules, we cram in gift buying, parties and other holiday traditions. Advent, however, is a time of preparation and waiting. May we never forget to pause and rest during the Advent season. May we take time to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Visitation

8x10 Oil on Panel
For Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary
Published by Ascension Press

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women,and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Mary Visits Elizabeth

I like to think of this painting as a baby shower of grace. As Mary and Elizabeth meet, the Spirit of God showers them with gifts of assurance, prophecy, joy, hope, and encouragement. These are exactly the gifts and blessings the two mothers need to carry on towards the challenges that lie ahead.

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Annunciation

8x10 Oil on Panel
Interior Illustration for Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary

The Angel Gabriel Visits Mary.

“Do not be afraid.” The angel said to Mary. This painting meditates on the intimate conversation between the angel and the virgin after those words were spoken. In this painting, the angel, Gabriel, interrupts Mary in her daily chores to announce that she will give birth to Jesus. Gabriel’s glow not only reveals his glory, but also, like a candle’s light, brings a comforting glow of grace to Mary. Although appearing small and modest, Mary stands comfortably in the angel’s presence—listening to his every word. The painting is a balance of miraculous wonder and prayer-like peace.

This painting is also about vessels. The two vases on the floor represent the Law and the Prophets. Mary, a vessel herself for Christ, holds a basket representing our Savior, Jesus—God poured out for the entire world.

Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary is a devotional journal and video series published by Ascension Press. To purchase the journal and art prints of this painting, visit:

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary

Recently, I was blessed to have the opportunity to paint illustrations for Ascension Press. The artwork was for a devotional guide called Rejoice, Advent Meditations with Mary by Fr. Mark Toups. The meditation guide focused on several key stories in the life of Mary leading up to the birth of Christ. The stories were: Gabriel’s annunciation to Mary, Mary’s visit with Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, and the Holy Family at the nativity. Each composition was a truly prayerful and meaningful experience. 

In addition to the devotional guide paintings, Ascension beautifully made a companion video series. The series is full of meditations and prayers centered around Mary’s story. For the video, I had the opportunity to create digital illustrations to be shown during the prayerful meditations.

It has been an honor to illustrate Mary’s story. I hope you enjoy these special paintings and take a moment to reflect on the story of the Blessed Mother, her faithful husband and the advent of our Lord, Jesus Christ. 

I will be posting more images from this series and giving you my reflections on them soon.

Friday, May 18, 2018

SOLO Exhibit

Come see my solo exhibition at 
Belle Meade United Methodist Church 
now through the end of July

121 Davidson Rd

Nashville, Tennessee

Open during office hours: 8 am - 4 pm weekdays.
And of course, Sunday worship 8:30 am and 11 am

See my latest works:

Natural Abstracts.

Contemporary impressionism.

Handel's Messiah Abstracts.

Miracles Abstracts.

The entire "Stations of the Cross" Series.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Frost at Dawn

Oil on Deep Edged Canvas
with Palette Knife

I'm really enjoying abstract landscape painting!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Arise and Walk

Oil on Panel
with Palette Knife

Another abstract from the Gospel of John. This time from John Chapter 5.

Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes.  In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.

This painting depicts the mystery of the healing itself. When people are healed by Jesus, they are completely made whole. Their bodies, their emotional well-being, their status in society... everything. So the painting explores all of those other things that are being made whole in the healed man.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

From Water to Wine

Oil on Panel
with Palette Knife

I really enjoy painting abstract of Jesus' miracles. In the Gospel of John, there are no parables from Jesus. Rather, John uses the miracles as parabolic signs of God's kingdom. Painting these miracles in abstract form creates space for the mystery inherent in the miracle to take root in a more contemplative way.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Point of Peace

Oil on Deep-Edged Canvas
with Palette Knife

Some springtime colors from Tims Ford Lake in Tennessee.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018


Oil on Panel
with Palette Knife
Click Here to Purchase

Feeding the Five Thousand

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”

John 6:1-14 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)